If you are a Licensed Nurse Practitioner, keeping tabs on the employment outlook for LPNs is important. Although there is a nationwide nursing shortage, the industry is changing, leaving many healthcare professionals to wonder, "will LPNs be phased out?" Let's explore the job outlook for LPNs and how you can stay competitive in the nursing job market.
Employment Outlook for LPNs
The United States nursing shortage is putting pressure on the healthcare industry. With experienced nurses from the baby boomer generation beginning to retire just as an aging population needs additional medical care, the strain is being felt across the board.
As long at that shortage remains, there will be a need for LPNs. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the demand for LPNs will increase by 5% during the ten-year period ending in 2032.
That said, the job market is shifting. LPNs in today's job market are often outflanked by candidates with more advanced degrees. For example, the BLS predicts that demand for Registered Nurses (RNs) will increase by 6% over that same ten-year time period. This equals the need for nearly 1.25 million more RN jobs through 2032.
When it comes to earning potential, the job outlook for LPNs is not as strong as RNs. A registered nurse can earn nearly 49% more than an LPN.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an RN earns an average of $81,220 a year compared to an LPN at $54,620.
4 Massive Challenges Facing LPNs
1. Limited Job Opportunities: As medical disciplines and practices become more specialized, an increasing number of job openings are shutting out LPNs and requiring an RN (or higher)—especially on the hospital floor. For example, an LPN is rarely allowed to work in critical care or the ER. As a result, the majority of LPN positions today are relegated to nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and home care—all noble pursuits, without question. But with less career flexibility than an RN or BSN would have.
2. Limited Autonomy: In most positions, the LPN won’t have much autonomy and must answer to an RN. The LPN’s role may be very limited—and that often translates directly to decreased job security.
3. Legal Restrictions: Legally, an LPN cannot assess, diagnose or evaluate care of a patient. Even if the LPN disagrees with the supervising RN on diagnosis or treatment, he or she cannot change the tasks they are assigned to complete. (However, if the LPN feels an assigned task will have dire effects on the patient, the LPN can escalate the issue further up the chain of command.)
4. Experience Counts Less Than Education: Unfair as it may seem, time spent actually doing the job counts far less than an advanced degree for many positions. This can be especially frustrating for an LPN who has been on the job for many years and may know more about actual patient care than the fresh-out-of-school RN who is assigned as his or her supervisor.
Is LPN Still a Good Career?
LPNs are valuable members of any healthcare team, and the ability to quickly obtain licensure and begin working is appealing. But for those who want to eventually move up and take on more responsibilities, holding only an LPN certification may be limiting. An advanced degree is required for nurses who want maximum opportunities in their career.
Going back to school to become an RN helps improve the employment outlook for LPNs. Higher education is rewarded with pride, prestige, and pay, so it's worth pursuing.
Many LPNs looking to advance their careers choose an LPN to RN Bridge to help them balance school, work, and personal responsibilities. An RN Bridge Program helps guide LPNs through:
Will LPNs Be Needed in the Future?
The role of the LPN was introduced during World War II to supplement nursing shortages when RNs entered the military. For now, LPNs will continue to find work because there is still a nursing shortage, an LPN license can be obtained quickly, and LPNs earn less than RNs, which saves employers money.
However, LPN job opportunities will continue to dwindle over time, as more and more nursing positions shift to require candidates with advanced degrees. In fact, the majority of hospitals in the U.S. already prefer to hire RNs over LPNs. Even when LPNs do get hired, most medical facilities encourage them to continue their studies and take advantage of accelerated LPN to RN degree programs.
Improve Your LPN Career Outlook with Achieve
If you're interested in an LPN to RN Bridge Program you can start from home, Achieve Test Prep can help. Our flexible, supportive program has helped thousands of LPNs just like you make real progress towards their goals. To learn more about how it works, connect with our Achieve Advisor team, who can create a customized LPN to RN plan just for you.