What to Consider Before Pursuing an LPN Career

As one of the oldest professions, nursing is one of the most important but unsung jobs in today's medical institutions. Both registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) must have patience, compassion, and personal strength – along with steady hands and the stamina to work long hours. If you posess these traits, you should consider an LPN career.

When thinking about pursing an LPN career, it’s important to understand the personal characteristics and qualities you'll need to have to succeed in this fast-paced, demanding, and rewarding field.

Nursing Qualifications

To ensure that patients receive the best care from every RN and LPN, aspiring nurses must meet certain degree requirements to obtain a license to work. These prerequisites usually include:

  • A minimum age requirement (which may be lower for an LPN than for an RN);
  • An education requirement, usually completion of high school and a training program (one to two years for an LPN; four years for an RN) at a certified school of nursing;
  • In some cases, additional schooling and/or training programs pertaining to health care issues in a particular state or region; and
  • A "moral" or personality requirement.

Personal Qualities Characteristics

LPN Career

Although the personality requirement is perhaps the most important qualification for a nurse, it’s also the most difficult to define. Like any job, an LPN career has its rewards and its challenges, and anyone interested in pursuing the profession should be prepared for both.

First and foremost, an LPN must be patient and caring. On a daily basis, nurses are faced with caring for irritable patients, dying children, and hurried doctors, all of which can cause an inordinate amount of stress and despair. Nurses must be strong enough to face difficult scenarios with compassion and equanimity. Good nurses can make the difference between a good and bad hospital experience for patients and their families.

Nursing requires not only a warm heart and pleasant demeanor, but a cool head. LPNs are often required to help doctors and patients with paperwork, scheduling, and organization, in addition to keeping track of each patient's needs, hygiene, feedings, and medications. Nurses must be able to measure vital signs accurately and respond to doctors' requests quickly and competently, taking orders and working as part of an efficient team.

Finally, it's important for nurses to take care of themselves in order to better withstand the emotional and physical toll of patients who may be angry, ungrateful, or terminally ill. Death, illness, and aging are faced everyday in the nursing profession. It's important that nurses get plenty of rest, exercise, and mental diversion in order to perform at their best at work.

Do You Have What it Takes?

In addition to its emotional and mental demands, the nursing profession also requires hard physical work. A typical week may include four or more twelve-hour shifts spend standing on your feet, walking, and providing ongoing patient care. LPNs may be required to lift patients out of their beds, off the toilet, or into proper positions for medical scans.

There is some accommodation for nurses who are disabled, but most fit, able-bodied LPNs are put to the test every day. An LPN career, in most cases,consists long hours and physically demanding tasks. Nursing is not a career for everyone, but if you’re up to the challenge, it's also one that can provide invaluable life experiences and a chance to improve the quality of patients’ lives.


 Return to the home page for general information on the duties of an LPN.

Nursing in Australia







Educational Considerations
Funding Education
Beyond the LPN Degree Opportunities
Career Opportunities
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