These are questions the LPN Coordinator is frequently asked:

Are LPNs new?
The term LPN stands for Licensed Practical Nurse. In 1892 the first formal school for practical nursing was opened in Brooklyn New York. During the 1940’s and 50’s, in response to registered nursing shortages created by WWII, practical or vocational nursing schools began to open around the country. At this time the majority of registered nursing schools were hospital based with a certificate issued at the end of the program. Traditionally the LPN has continued to be trained in the vocational setting with certificate degrees in practical nursing being granted upon completion of the programs. After passing State Board exams a license is issued. Herkimer BOCES was initially established in 1962.

What are the different levels of nursing?
As health care has evolved so has nursing. Currently there are 3 primary areas that one can practice within the nursing field. All are regulated by the individual states board of nursing.

Per the NYS office of professions they are defined as follows:

There are three distinct licenses within the nursing profession in New York State: Registered Professional Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse and Nurse Practitioner.

A Registered Professional Nurse (RN) may:

  • Diagnose and treat a patient’s unique responses to diagnosed health problems;

  • Perform health assessments to identify new symptoms of possibly undiagnosed conditions or complications

  • Teach and counsel patients about maintenance of health and prevention of illness or complications;

  • Execute medical regimens as prescribed by licensed physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and podiatrists, and,

  • Contribute as members of an interdisciplinary health care team and as consultants on health related committees to plan and implement the health care needs of consumers.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) provides skilled nursing care tasks and procedures under the direction of an RN, physician, or other authorized health care provider.

Nurse Practitioner (NP) is an RN who has earned a separate license as an NP through additional education and experience in a distinct specialty area of practice. Nurse practitioners may diagnose, treat, and prescribe for a patient’s condition that falls within their specialty area of practice. This is done in collaboration with a licensed physician qualified in the specialty involved and in accordance with an approved written practice agreement and protocols. Nurse Practitioners are autonomous and do not practice under the supervision of the collaborating physician. (Nurse practitioner specialty areas: Acute Care; Adult Health; College Health; Community Health; Family Health; Gerontology; Holistic Nursing; Neonatology; Obstetrics and Gynecology; Oncology; Palliative Care; Pediatrics; Perinatology; Psychiatry; School Health; Women's Health)

One level is neither better nor worse than the other; all three require formal education and a licensing exam. All three provide patient care. The difference is depth of knowledge and scope of practice and where they can be utilized in the health care setting.

What is scope of practice?
The individual state boards of nursing set the scope of practice for the varying levels of nursing. Scope of practice directly regulates what the nurse can actually do in the state they practice in regarding patient care. It is not universal nor is it dependent on the individuals’ ability. It is a legal definition and standard that the nurse is held to in the state they are practicing.

Where can LPN’s work?

LPN”s can practice any place where there is an RN, physician, or other authorized health care provider to coordinate the patients care and do any assessments needed to make adaptations and changes in the patients care. This is primarily done by an RN. They can be found in clinics, nursing homes, adult residential settings, home care, and selected acute care settings.

Can I use my LPN if I want to go on to school for my RN?

Yes, you will be trained in all the basics of patient care, wellness and disease processes, and pharmacology. This knowledge gives you an excellent base to build upon should you wish to continue your education. In addition we take great pains to prepare you academically for the rigors of an RN program. Approximately 30% for our students continue on for their RN at some time in their nursing career.

Is the LPN being “phased out”?

At present LPN’s can be found in all 50 states. They have established themselves as a profession with a solid market share within the healthcare field. The likelihood of them being phased out simply does not exist. Through the years, the areas they have been allowed to practice in has shifted from time to time but they are a permanent vital part of the healthcare team.