Before making a career change, it’s smart to ask what the future holds for your chosen field. Some jobs that were common a decade ago have disappeared because of technology, so why take the leap if employment prospects are bleak? If you’re interested in a healthcare career but are wondering what the demand for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) will be in the next ten years, keep reading, we have good news.
What Does an LPN Do?
LPNs are entry-level professional nurses. Responsibilities vary by setting but are primarily practical tasks such as:
- Helping patients to move, bathe, eat, dress and use the toilet
- Taking vital signs
- Measuring intake and output
- Dressing wounds
- Bedsore prevention
- Mouth care
- Tube feedings
- Managing medical equipment
- Inserting urinary catheters
- Checking blood glucose
- Administering medications including insulin
- Assisting with therapeutic exercises
- Collecting biological specimens
- Providing emotional support
- Patient education
Where Does an LPN work?
LPNs work for a broad range of employers including:
- Nursing homes
- Assisted living centers
- Doctor’s offices
- Home healthcare agencies
- Public health departments
Of the more than 688,100 licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses now working, most work in nursing facilities and senior homes. Hospitals come in a close second, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While LPNs have mostly been replaced by medical assistants in doctor’s offices, opportunities are growing in home healthcare. An LPN’s skills are ideal for stable, home-bound patients.
What is the Current Demand for Nurses?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for licensed practical nurses will grow 9 percent through 2030, that’s more than 60,000 new job openings. Why so many? The need is fueled by several factors across different fronts.
Why Are Nurses in Demand?
Nurses are always in demand. There’s been a persistent but manageable nursing shortage for two decades. But the need for new talent is increasing nationwide as we face a perfect storm of circumstances. A combination of factors is to blame.
The number of Americans who now have health insurance has increased, so more nurses are needed to meet the demand. Patients, insurers, and government agencies are all looking for ways to improve accessibility to services, and nurses are the gateway.
Nursing has evolved significantly as a profession in the last two decades. Nurses are taking over roles once reserved for physicians. Data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage of up to 55,000 primary care physicians by 2033, so nurses are picking up the slack. More nurse-centric roles have been created as medical students are increasingly choosing specialties over primary healthcare.
Supervised by doctors, advanced practice nurses are also stepping up as primary care providers. Their participation in preventive health and wellness programs is expected to mitigate demand for acute care services while saving the healthcare system billions. But every nurse promoted means one less direct care provider, so LPNs are in demand.
Quality Care Incentives
Quality care incentives have changed how healthcare facilities do business. Lengthy hospital stays have been replaced with better aftercare, most of which can be managed by nurses.
Nurses are also being tapped to prevent admissions by working with at-risk patients to manage chronic illnesses. Research shows that supporting patients at home lowers hospitalizations and mortality.
Changing Population Demographics
The Baby Boomer generation is the largest in history. Born after World War II, they make up more than 20 percent of the population, and they’re all about to retire. Many millions of older Americans will need more preventive care, and there’s no end in sight. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many baby boomers have two or more chronic medical conditions, making preventive nursing care a public health priority.
A Sicker Population
Chronic illness is also plaguing younger demographics. Many younger Americans have some form of illness, such as diabetes or heart disease, that requires ongoing management.
Preventive care is the key to controlling increasing healthcare costs and improving the quality of life for the most vulnerable. Nurses are helping to stem the tide by becoming health educators, but the shortage means positions remain unfilled.
More Advanced Care
Advances in healthcare and improved access to medical services offer baby boomers a better quality of life, but it comes at a cost. Elective joint replacement surgeries, for example, are at an all-time high.
More home healthcare nurses are needed to follow patients after procedures that affect their ability to take care of themselves at home. Complication-free recoveries are the goal.
Better care also means that people are living longer, yet many can’t be independent. The need for nurse-supervised care in nursing facilities and private homes has never been greater.
A Shortage of Nurse Educators
The retirement of seasoned nurses has created a deficit of qualified educators. Without them, nursing programs are unable to train as many new nurses as the workforce needs.
According to the American Associate of Critical Care Nurses, US nursing schools declined more than 80,000 qualified applicants because of a shortage of classrooms, faculty and clinical training sites. And strapped budgets don’t allow for expansion.
How Do You Become an LPN?
Students who enroll full-time in a vocational school program can finish training in less than a year. Training is rigorous but quick. As the pandemic wanes, student capacity is ramping up and programs are accepting new applicants.
For students who wanted to be registered nurses but can’t find a program with openings, becoming an LPN is a great way to break into the field without delay. Why put your life and your earnings on hold? As an LPN, you’ll make money while gaining experience that will help you move up the career ladder.
Many of today’s nurse leaders and nurse educators began their careers as practical nurses. And at some schools, being an LPN puts you higher on the waitlist for a spot in a degree program. The best part about nursing is that no matter where you begin your career, there’s nowhere to go but up.
The persistent nursing shortage is a problem for communities but an opportunity for students interested in making a difference. As the world changes, trendy careers come and go. But the need for nurses remains eternal.
Want to Learn More?
Did learning about how to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) on Long Island interest you? Ready for an exciting new career in the healthcare field? The Practical Nursing certificate program provides the graduate with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to function as a licensed practical nurse or LPN. Part of the practical nurse training curriculum is devoted to theory and the rest to hands-on laboratory skills practice and off-site clinical externship rotations. These rotations include work at long-term care and rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, and childbearing and pediatric outpatient settings.
Upon successful completion of NCLEX-PN, the National Council Licensure Examination, which is a nationwide examination for the licensing of nurses in the United States, the licensed practical nurse (LPN) works under the direction of a registered nurse or licensed physician in a variety of health care settings.
Contact us today to find out more on how to become an LPN on Long Island.