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What Does a LVN Do?

LVN stands for licensed vocational nurse. In many states, the name for this type of nurse is licensed practical nurse or LPN. These nurses can work in hospitals, clinics, nursing facilities, patient's home, and other places where nursing needs to happen. The main difference between an LVN and an RN is the level of responsibility and pay. The work will often overlap, but LVNs always have to work under the supervision of an RN or a doctor. Here are some of the primary duties that LVNs undertake:

• A primary duty for an LVN is administering medications and monitoring vital signs. When doctors give orders for medications, the LVN has the responsibility of measuring out those medications and administering them to the patient. Some medications are oral while others may require injection or use of an IV. The LVN monitors vital signs and keeps careful track of that information. All of this information provides the RNs and the doctors with critical information on how well the patient is doing.

• An LVN helps patients with personal hygiene as needed. In many cases, there are certified nursing assistants or CNAs that can do much of that sort of work. However, in many facilities, the duties of the LVN and the CNA can overlap. The LVN helps prevent illness and promote wellness as a part of the typical duties.

• An LVN can undertake wound care. When a patient has an open wound or a surgical opening, regular care is a requirement. The LVN can remove old bandages, clean wounds, and apply new dressings as needed. They provide education to the patients and the patients' families on how to do this when the patient transfer to home.

• LVNs also collect blood and urine samples as needed. When the doctor needs a sample for testing, the LVN will collect those samples, label them appropriately, and send them to the lab for testing.

The exact duties of an LVN can vary from state to state and from employer to employer. Most states have precise guidelines on what duties a LVN can perform and on what duties solely done by an RN or doctor. Moreover, some employers take those guidelines even further. There can be flexibility in duties depending on experience and certifications that the LVN holds. Each person will encounter different guidelines as they move from employer to employer. The final guidelines come down to what your employer and state allows.