what do licensed practical nurses do

What Do Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) Do?

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are important members of a patient’s healthcare team. These licensed professionals provide basic medical care to patients who are sick, injured, and disabled. Perhaps most importantly, LPNs help patients feel comfortable and attended to throughout their visits in a healthcare facility—monitoring their progress, listening to their needs, and relaying concerns to RNs and doctors.

If you are considering breaking into the healthcare field, starting your journey as an LPN is an excellent choice. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall need for healthcare services is increasing, and demand for LPNs is especially high. LPNs are needed to help the growing number of older patients in long-term care facilities, as well as to keep up with demands in outpatient care centers. And the best part is, it takes less than two years to become an LPN —meaning you can secure a career relatively fast and begin helping patients in need.

Let’s explore the LPN career path in more depth, and unpack what LPNs do on a daily basis. Below you will learn about common LPN job duties and how these nurses fit into the larger healthcare team.

What do LPNs do, exactly?

LPNs are responsible for basic patient care and comfort. They work under the direction of a registered nurse (RN) or physician, carrying out routine tasks like taking vital signs and dressing wounds. However, the work of an LPN goes beyond patient care. These practical nurses are often patients’ primary point of contact, meaning they have the ability to make a difference in patients’ experiences (and lives).

What are the job duties of an LPN?

On a daily basis, licensed practical nurses can be found carrying out the following tasks:

  • Administering basic patient care and comfort
  • Changing bandages and dressing wounds
  • Changing and administering catheters
  • Interviewing patients when they arrive (asking about current medications, medical history, etc.)
  • Checking patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure and body temperature
  • Collecting laboratory samples
  • Discussing care with patients and their families
  • Getting patients ready for discharge
  • Helping patients with bathing or dressing
  • Issuing medications as prescribed, depending on where you work
  • Monitoring the status of patients health
  • Providing immunizations and preparing IVs, depending on where you work
  • Recording patient updates and maintaining health records
  • Reporting patients’ concerns to registered nurses, physicians, or APRNs
  • Supervising certified nursing assistants (CNAs)

The exact job duties of an LPN will vary, depending on their place of work. For example, those working in residential care facilities might be responsible for helping dress, bathe, and move older patients. LPNs working in a private practice may take on some medical office tasks. And, those in a hospital setting might conduct routine laboratory tests. In any setting, however, it’s safe to say that everyday brings new and exciting challenges for LPNs. LPNs get to work with a diversity of patients and conditions, which brings meaning and satisfaction to what they do.

The scope of work for LPNs can also depend on the state in which they work. Some states permit LPNs to administer medications, begin IV drips, or give immunizations to patients. Be sure to research your state’s limitations before beginning to practice as an LPN.


Become an LPN in Connecticut in just 16 to 24 months! Learn about Goodwin’s part-time LPN program.


Where can LPNs work?

LPNs can be found in a variety of medical environments, from hospitals to home health care settings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most LPNs (about 35% of those in the U.S.) work in nursing homes and residential care facilities. LPNs are also commonly found in hospitals, home health care services, physicians’ offices, and government agencies. Outpatient clinics and rehab centers are increasingly looking for LPNs, as well.

What do RNs do that LPNs cannot?

The LPN career path is relatively straightforward, requiring only a diploma or certificate to qualify for the licensing exam. Meanwhile, registered nurses must complete an associate or bachelor’s degree in Nursing, followed by a licensing examination. Because of the extended time in nursing school, RNs take on a larger scope of work than LPNs do.

In summary, RNs have the full capacity to evaluate patients, coordinate treatment plans with doctors, perform procedures, administer medications, conduct testing, and deliver a wide range of patient care tasks. The main job of an LPN is to support the work of RNs and physicians, helping with the more basic tasks and ensuring that patients’ needs are heard and tended to.


Learn more about the LPN vs. RN job duties here.


Both types of nurses play an important role on the larger medical team, and the path you choose will largely depend on:

  • How much time you can commit to nursing school
  • How much autonomy you want in your nursing career
  • How quickly you want to launch a job
  • How you see yourself advancing in the nursing profession over the years

Becoming an LPN

If you decide that becoming an LPN is a perfect path for you at this time, you are making an incredible choice. The work that LPNs do has the ability to make a real impact on others’ lives, and many find this career rewarding—even without a long time commitment.

You can become an LPN in Connecticut in as few as 16 months at Goodwin University. Our LPN certificate program will prepare you to complete the board examination, and equip you with the practical nursing skills needed to thrive in this field. Learn more by calling 800-889-3282 today. Or visit us online to request more information.