Deciding to attend nursing school is an important decision, which is why understanding your nursing certification is a necessity. PN degrees are a little different than other nursing degrees such as an RN or a nurse practitioner. While still a vital and important career choice, it's important to understand the challenges you will face as a PN in the nursing field.
PN Practice Limitations
A Practical Nurse degree requires one year of full-time study or 18 months of night classes. At the end of this study, you will also have to obtain your certification through the National NCLEX-PN Nursing Board Exam.
While you will still be a licensed nurse at the end of your study, you will not have quite the same job as an RN. LPNs are limited in the ability to assess, diagnose, and evaluate medical care. Some states limit the ability of PNs to administer medication and IV drips too, delegating this role to that of support staff.
RNs and nurse practitioners will usually provide more in-depth medical care and diagnostic work. Examples of PNs duties include caring for the sick, injured, elderly, and disabled patients under supervision (usually a doctor or nurse practitioner). This care may include tasks like checking blood pressure and other vital signs as well as basic care such as feeding and bathing.
Strange Hours and Odd Locations
People need medical care around the clock and don't stop being sick or hurt after 5 pm on Friday. PNs must be comfortable working non-standard hours to provide needed patient care from early mornings to overnight shifts including weekends and holidays. A PN may also be required to work longer than an eight-hour shift.
Practical nurses don't just work in hospitals. Nurses will also care for patients at various clinics, rehabs, outpatient facilities, and even provide care in patient homes. Different locations will provide challenges in patient accessibility and equipment, as well as navigating stairs or be standing for long periods of time.
Wages and Job Outlook
Fortunately, the nursing field is expected to grow at an extraordinary rate of 16%. Unfortunately, not all opportunities are equal. Since PNs are limited by law and policy in their ability to provide care, many facilities prefer to hire RNs. Limited entry-level positions can mean fierce competition -- for both employment, internships, and even school programs.
With an average wage around $25 an hour compared to $28 for registered nurses, although may vary greatly by location. New nurses should be prepared for the possibility of limited senior staff based on nursing needs which can lead to larger workload and less schedule flexibility.
Make sure all your questions get answered before choosing a nursing program that matches your needs. Career counselors at Athena are available to give you these answers up front, contact them today.