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13 Pros and Cons of Being an LPN/LVN


Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN

Are you considering becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a licensed vocational nurse (LVN)? Do you know what are the pros and cons of being an LPN/LVN? Weighing the pros and cons of a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse is an important decision. You are probably trying to figure out if the pros outweigh the cons. Here is a breakdown of the top 13 pros and cons of being an LPN/LVN. Whether you are making your final decision or just exploring your options, this information can help you decide if becoming an LPN/LVN is the right career for you.


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What Is An LPN/LVN?


The term LPN and LVN can be used interchangeably. The difference between the two professions is that you would be referred to as an LPN in some states, and in other states, you would be referred to as an LVN. The job description for an LPN/LVN is that you will be responsible for the patients' primary care.


What Does An LPN/LVN Do?


Your everyday tasks will include but are not limited to taking vital signs, preparing patients for procedures, administering medications, performing the daily care of patients, and assisting in surgical operations. Depending on the state you practice in, an LPN/LVN cannot administer intravenous medicines. This skill is reserved for a registered nurse. It will also be your responsibility to communicate with family members or other medical staff when the doctor is unavailable. As an LPN/LVN, you will report directly to a registered nurse and be designated tasks by the registered nurse.


Where Does A LPN/LVN Work?


As an LPN/LVN, you can work in various settings. Some of the most popular LPN/LVN jobs include working in hospitals, doctors' offices, and other medical facilities. You can also find work as a school nurse or in an assisted living center. LPN/LVNs also work in nursing homes, adult daycare centers, home health care settings, and ambulatory healthcare facilities. As an LPN/LVN, you have so many choices of where you can work.


What Is A Typical LPN/LVN Work Schedule Like?


There is a tremendous amount of variety in how LPN's and LVN's can schedule their work. Some LPNs/LVNs work 9-hour shifts, while others work 12-hour shifts. Some LPN/LVNs will work weekends while others work only weekdays. There is no set schedule for LPN/LVNs, and it all depends on what kind of nursing facility you work for. Your schedule also will depend on if you work full-time or part-time.


How Much Does A LPN/LVN Make?


The entry-level LPN/LVN salary is around $35,570 a year, $17.10 an hour. Now, if you have been in the profession for some time, you can expect an increase in your salary to $23.47 an hour, roughly a yearly salary of $48,820 a year. The top-level wage that you can expect to be making if you have been in the field for a long time is about $65,520 a year or $31.50 an hour. The average salary you will see in the profession is $24.08 an hour or $50,090 a year.

Level of
Experience
HourlyAnnual
Entry-Level$17.10$35,570
Mid-Level$23.47$48,820
Top-Level$31.50$65,520
Average Salary$24.08$50,090
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Job Outlook For An LPN/LVN


One crucial aspect to consider when you are deciding on a career as an LPN/LVN is that you can expect this career to grow in a positive direction. In the year 2020, there were 688,100 LPN/LVNs. This number is projected to grow at a rate of 9.27% or an increase of 63,800 by 2030. This means that the number of LPN/LVNs will be 751,900. The annual job openings for LPNs/LVNs, including new jobs and the jobs being replaced due to turnover, will be 60,700.

Employment
in 2020
Projected
Employment
in 2030
New Employment
Growth (2020-2030)
Annual Job Openings
(New + Replacement)
Number %
688,100751,90063,8009.27%60,700
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Steps To Becoming An LPN/LVN


1. The first step that you will have to complete to become an LPN/LVN is to earn your high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED).

2. Next, you must enroll in an accredited LPN/LVN training program. Some programs will require that you pass the Pre-Admission Exam (PAX-PN) before being admitted to their program. You can find these specialty training programs at many vocational schools and community colleges. You must make sure that you ensure that the LPN/LVN program you are going to attend is accredited by the National League of Nursing Accrediting Agency (NLNAC).

3. You will then need to apply for authorization to test once you have completed the accredited training program. You will have to apply for this authorization through your local state board of nursing and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

4. Once you have received your authorization to test, you will need to schedule and sit for your licensing exam. You will be taking the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses or the NCLEX-PN exam.

5. The final step to becoming an LPN/LVN is the dreaded wait to see if you have passed your licensure exam. Typically, you can expect to receive your results within six weeks. Once you officially receive your license in the mail, you can then start applying for jobs.


TOP CONS OF BEING AN LPN/LVN

(The following are the top 13 disadvantages of being an LPN/LVN.)

1. You may need to pass the PAX-PN to even get started.

So, you are thinking about your career options after high school. LPN/LVN seems like an excellent option for you, that is, until you find out there is an exam that is necessary to complete before being accepted into an LPN/LVN program. This exam is called the PAX-PN, but what does it mean? What is it? The PAX-PN is a test created by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. It is an 8-hour exam consisting of 220 multiple-choice questions. Many programs will require that you successfully complete this exam prior to being accepted into an LPN/LVN program.

2. You will have to pass a licensure exam.

In order to work as an LPN/LVN, you will first need to pass your state's licensure exam, the NCLEX-PN. This exam tests your knowledge in several categories to determine your competency. Each state's board of nursing regulates the licensure for its residents. The state sets its own rules and guidelines for licensing procedures, type, and structure of examinations. You will not be able to work and begin your career until you pass this test. If you do not pass the exam, you must pay a fee to retake it.

3. Many hospitals no longer hire LPN/LVNs.

One of the biggest disadvantages of being an LPN/LVN is that many healthcare institutions will no longer hire LPN/LVNs and only hire RNs. This is especially true for larger hospitals or those with high patient loads and acuity. Some hospitals have cited the need to hire more RNs to provide patients with better quality care. In contrast, others have claimed that hiring LPN/LVNs is simply not cost-efficient. So, if you are dreaming of working in a large hospital as an LPN/LVN, do not hold your breath.

4. If you work in a hospital, you may not be able to work in certain areas.

If you do happen to land a job working in a hospital setting, you will quickly learn that your career options are not as vast as you probably thought. LPN/LVNs will not be able to work in specific specialty areas such as the emergency department and intensive care unit. Hospitals will tend to hire RNs who can practice independently in these roles. This is understandable because nurses in these positions need to be able to make life and death decisions that will impact the lives of others.

5. You may feel that you are not recognized as a real nurse

As an LPN/LVN, you may feel not essential or recognized as a real nurse. As an LPN/LVN, you may feel that your feelings and opinions do not matter because you are not an RN. As an LPN/LVN, you may feel as though you are not necessary.

6. You will earn less than RNs.

One of the disadvantages of being an LPN/LVN is that you tend to make less money than an RN. This is because most hospitals, clinics, and doctor's offices hire LPN/LVNs to work under the supervision of a nurse practitioner or registered nurse. An RN will earn an average annual salary of $77,460, whereas an LPN/LVN will earn a yearly salary of $50,090. That is a huge difference.

7. You will have a smaller scope of practice in comparison to an RN.

As an LPN/LVN, you will have a smaller scope of practice than an RN. This means that you will be able to do less than an RN. Some of the tasks that are not part of your scope of practice include counseling patients, starting intravenous lines, administering intravenous medications, helping them follow through with their care, performing assessments, and delegating tasks.

8. You may have to work nights and weekends.

You may find that one of the disadvantages of being an LPN/LVN is that you will have to work nights or weekends. This is not fun, especially if you are sleep-deprived. Working nights and weekends means that you will miss out on spending time with your loved ones. You will be absent for your friends and loved one’s birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions. Working nights is the pits. You never get to sleep in or spend time with your loved ones because you will be sleeping during the day while they are outliving their lives. It is a lonely existence without anyone around to spend time with when you work nights.

9. You may have to work holidays.

Another downside to an LPN/LVN career is that you may be missing holidays with your friends and family. Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas are especially important days that people spend with their friends and family. While there are perks to being an LPN/LVN, missing holidays with loved ones may be a downside of the job. When evaluating the pros and cons of being an LPN/LVN, you need to decide if working holidays is a deal-breaker or no big deal. Keep in mind, working holidays is no picnic; you will miss the memories made with loved ones.

10. Your job will be physically demanding.

When you are evaluating the pros and cons of being an LPN/LVN, one important aspect of the career that you must think about is that it is a physically demanding job. You will be on your feet for hours at a time, have to carry and move around heavy patient loads, helping them into their wheelchairs or even into bed. You will be bending, pushing, and pulling throughout your day. In this line of work, you can be easily injured. You can get a pulled muscle, a back injury, or a rotator cuff injury. An injury can mean you may have to work in pain, or you may have to quit the profession; then what will you do?

11. Your day will be dictated by the registered nurses.

One of the top disadvantages of being an LPN/LVN is that your day will be dictated by the registered nurse in charge of you. You will be delegated to specific tasks and asked to report back on the results. You will not be in control of your day or your patients. You will be told what to do all day.

12. You may have to deal with hazardous materials

As an LPN/LVN, you may have to deal with hazardous materials. These materials may be what you expect, such as alcohol or bleach. Some other types of hazardous materials may be less noticeable. For example, blood and body fluids can contain infectious agents that could potentially make you or your family sick.

13. You may have to work with challenging patients

One of the cons of being an LPN/LVN is that you may work with difficult patients. You may find that, at times, patients are rude, inconsiderate, and sometimes even violent. You may find yourself asking, "What did I do to deserve this?" The simple answer is "Nothing ."So, if you are a person who cannot take this kind of treatment with a smile on your face, then you might want to consider another career path.


TOP PROS OF BEING AN LPN/LVN

(The following are the top 13 advantages of being an LPN/LVN.)

1. Your training period will be short.

One of the advantages of being an LPN/LVN is that your training period will be short. The average amount of time it takes to complete your training is around 12 months. This is compared to the 3-4 years you would have to study if you were to become a registered nurse. During this period, you will learn how to be an essential part of the healthcare team by performing routine tasks under the supervision of a registered nurse.

2. You can get out and earn money sooner.

One of the top pros of being an LPN/LVN is that you will be able to get to work sooner than a freshly-graduated RN. In many cases, depending on the state you live in, you can begin practicing upon graduation from an accredited LPN program. Getting out there in the workforce means that you can start paying back your student loans, saving up to go back to school for your RN, or even just making a paycheck in general. If you have any debts, you can start paying those down as well. You will also be well on your way to independence.

3. You will have a steady income.

Do you want a steady, predictable job, and has the potential to be lucrative? If so, then becoming an LPN/LVN may just be what you need! You will find that you will have a steady income. You will be able to manage your expenses better because you know what will be coming in. You could be earning an average annual salary of $24.08 an hour or $50,090 a year.

4. You will receive benefits.

One of the best advantages of being an LPN/LVN is that you will be covered by your employer's health benefits. These benefits will protect your family and give you peace of mind! Here are some of the other benefits you may be entitled to, such as dental plans, sick leave, paid vacation, life insurance, long-term care insurance, and disability insurance. Employers may provide other benefits as well, such as education assistance.

5. You will be able to find a job.

Another one of the top pros of being an LPN/LVN is that you will always be able to find a job. As an LPN/LVN, you have a valuable skill-set that is always in demand. However, with the recent nursing shortages in areas such as Long-Term Care and other Domiciliary Providers, the value of your skills is at an all-time high. If you ever tire of what you are doing or feel like changing career paths, you will always be able to find another job quickly.

6. You could travel for work.

As an LPN/LVN, you could get paid to travel. You could become a travel LPN/LVN. This is a job opportunity that is not available to everyone. A travel nurse gets paid to travel while taking care of patients in other hospitals. Travel nurses get to do what they love while seeing new places and meeting interesting people.

7. You will be able to advance to an RN.

When evaluating the pros and cons of being an LPN/LVN you should take into consideration the ease you will have when advancing your education to that of an RN. If you are an LPN/LVN, you are already skilled at working with patients, assisting them during examinations, checking their vital signs, and helping them to recover. You can now take your career to the next level by advancing your education as a registered nurse. All you need to do is apply for an RN program near you.

8. You can advance your career online.

One of the pros of being an LPN/LVN is that you will have the opportunity to earn your RN online. Being able to earn your degree online is a great way to advance your career and give you the chance to complete your schoolwork from home. You will also be able to continue to work because many online programs will provide you with the flexibility to have the best of both worlds.

9. You can work in many different settings.

One of the top advantages of being an LPN/LVN is working in many different settings. Having the option to work in so many different settings will enable you to find the job that is a perfect fit for you. As an LPN/LVN, you can work in the following settings: medical hospitals and clinics, psychiatric and substance abuse facilities, home health care agencies, public and private schools, long-term care facilities (nursing homes, skilled nursing), or correctional institutions (prisons).

10. You will be helping people

As an LPN/LVN, in the end, it all comes down to what you want out of your career. One of the pros of being an LPN/LVN is that you will be helping people on a daily basis. You will be helping to improve people's lives. You will directly impact your patients, their families, and friends. You will be deeply appreciated by the people you help.

11. You can be proud of what you do

As an LPN/LVN, you can be proud of your chosen career. You have embarked on a career path that many people cannot successfully do. Your job is multifaceted and can be rewarding. You meet new people every day, and you help them in their times of need. You should be so proud of yourself.

12. You can have a flexible schedule

As an LPN/LVN, you will have a flexible schedule. Having a flexible schedule will allow you to juggle many tasks in your life. Being able to juggle many tasks in your life will allow you to accomplish things that you never thought possible. Being able to accomplish something that you never thought possible will give you a sense of personal satisfaction and confidence.

13. You can see if you really do have a calling for nursing

One of the biggest advantages of being an LPN/LVN is that you will see if you really have a calling for nursing. Since the course work is so short to becoming an LPN/LVN, you can feel if this is the career for you in a short amount of time. If you think that nursing is for you, you can always earn your bachelor's degree. If this is not the career path for you, well, then back to the drawing board.


My Final Thoughts


In the end, it all comes down to what you want out of your career. If you love the idea of working in a healthcare setting and want to help people live better lives, then becoming an LPN/LVN might be for you. After going through the pros and cons of being an LPN/LVN, you may find that there are some downsides, but if those do not deter you from pursuing this career path, then I hope my article on the top 13 pros and cons of being an LPN/LVN has helped you decide whether this is the career for you. Good luck on whatever path you choose!


Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.