Vocational Nurse Professional Development
Vocational nurses are commonly referred to as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) or Licensed Vocational Nurses (VN’s). VN’s are trained by completing a practical nursing program, after which the seek licensing from the Nurses Licensing Board. According to the (ARNNL 2013), to become an LPN, one needs to have enrolled in either:
- A two-year associate degree. In the associate degree program, technical aspects of nursing are taught. These are the technical aspects that deal directly with offering practical care to patients.
- A four year Bachelor degree course. In the degree course, education and training are centered more on scientific research into new technologies and medical discoveries
Whether one attends the associate degree or the bachelor degree course there is practicum in a medical institution. Upon successful completion of the course and practicum, one sits for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses. It is only after an individual passes the exam that they can be placed within the employing organization.
When are placed with an institution VN’s are supervised by Registered Nurses (RN’s) and doctors as they offer the practical and routine care of patients. While as the RN’s assess, plan and evaluate the effectiveness of the care given to a patient, it is the VN who actually implements the care (Smith 15). A VN’s scope of work starts when a patient first enters a hospital.
- It is the VN who takes the vitals like blood pressure and temperature, as well as documents the patients’ medical history.
- Whether a patient is admitted or outpatient, the VN offers the practical aspects of medical from giving injections, taking blood samples and even dressing wounds.
- If a patient is admitted the VN continues with the practical aspects of medical care as well as offers bedside assistance in an effort to make the patient as comfortable as possible. This can range from feeding the patient to giving the patient a bath.
- When the admitted patient leaves the hospital the VN is the last point of contact with the patient. It is the VN that schedules the next appointment and even escorts you to the door on a wheelchair.
The job of a VN is physically, emotionally and mentally demanding. This is because the job of a VN is not to treat the disease but to treat the patient. This requires a certain degree of emotional involvement either with the patient. Since this emotional involvement can be positive or negative an LPN is guided by ethical principles to ensure that they remain neutral and able to perform the tasks given to them. In order to perform the role well a VN adhere to the following ethical principles (Smith 16)
- Maintain the sanctity of life at all costs, and ensure that disease is not further propagated.
- Promote the general welfare of the patients by ensuring that all procedures are done to the utmost professional standards
- Accept personal responsibility for all the practical care given to the patient, this is because the VN is considered as educated and experienced to perform the tasks given.
- Maintain the patient’s information confidential at all times.
- Give the same quality of care irrespective of the differences in religious, cultural, or racial standings.
- To read and stay abreast with discoveries and trends in the medical field.
According to Herron-Rice (2009), it is imperative for a VN to maintain the highest standards of professional competences by continuous education. This can be done by advancing to the next level in nursing, or by attending conferences, certification and executive programs that update the VN on what is going on. This is because within the medical field a small error can make the difference between life and death; ignorance is no defense either this continuing education enables the VN to adhere to the very strict professional code as follows:
- To shoulder all the duties assigned, this is because the assigned is done on the pre-assumption that the VN is a qualified professional.
- Function within the parameters of formal training and experience, this means that a VN cannot do the duties of an RN; neither can the RN do the doctors job. Everyone needs to perform only the tasks that they are qualified enough to perform except in the case of an emergency.
- Once everyone performs the tasks they are qualified to do the whole medical team will a cohesive unit that works for the welfare of the patient.
- To use the nursing process in giving patient medical care. This process involves the Planning, Implementing and evaluating health care and medical care.
- Be actively involved in all peer evaluations that promote and improve patients care.
- Be instrumental whether in the local hospital or in other forums in the improvement of policies that improve health care delivery.
A career within the medical field is progressive and dynamic and there is no limit to what one can achieve. According to NPLPN (2013), there are opportunities to grow vertically by advancing the level of education and having more supervisory powers. For instance, a VN can study and become an RN than a Registered Nurse Practitioner. The other option is to grow horizontally and specialize in one field. For instance, one can choose to remain a VN but specialize in geriatrics care. Career growth is based on personal goals and one’s future plans
According to Herron-Rice (2009) In 3-5 years the best approach would be to grow horizontally once one has received the license to become a VN, horizontal growth ensures that the VN:
- Extends experience in clinical practice by applying and perfecting all the techniques and skills they acquired in school and in the practicum. This is achieved by sharing the skills one has with others while learning from others with better skills and long working experiences.
- Develops consistent work habits that develop into professional competence. These skills will be vital as VN advances in career.
- Take advantage of short courses and executive courses that sharpen certain skills like trauma counseling.
- This would also be the best time to do clinical research on a certain hypothesis with the organization.
- Improve in deliverables within the organization like the efficiency of the discharge process.
- Manage their time and prioritize the tasks given and can even anticipate a patient’s needs before the patient asks them.
- Specialize in a certain field and be able to offer situational management to the specialized area.
- Participate in the creation of nursing and medical care delivery especially in the areas of specialization.
An LPN can also choose to grow vertically by going back to school and advancing to be an RN. According to MOH (2003), this vertical growth would offer the RN,
- Opportunities to develop managerial skills like conflict resolution and team management.
- A chance to be a mentor and develop the VN’s under their supervision. As a nurse gains more clinical practice they can become contributors in specialized areas.
- An opportunity to understand how departments interlink in ensuring that the patient receives the best medical care available. This equips the RN just in case there are opportunities in the future to grow horizontally.
- Personal development as one learns to not only take responsibilities for one’s own mistakes but for those of the team as well.
- A chance to participate actively in the formulation of policies that affect the quality of health care that a patient receives. This is done through peer reviews and constant evaluation of the implementation of the care prescribed for each patient.
In conclusion, in order to progress as a nurse in the medical field, one must engage themselves in continuing education. According to MOH (2003) the general model of career progression is that one is a new graduate, who becomes competent as they practice more, and then they become proficient as they gain more specialized knowledge, finally they become experts due to a combination of formal and practical experience this is because the medical field is rapidly innovating and developing. There are new discoveries and technologies that make the treatment of disease and patients easier, faster and safer. Therefore anyone wishing to involve themselves in this field must be in for the long-haul.
. Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador (ARNNL). “Standards of Practice for Registered Nurses”. 2013. St John’s: Author
Herron-Rice, Learae et al. “Standards of Clinical Nursing Practice and Role Delineations.” Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, Inc. 2009: 1-29.
Ministry of Health (MOH). “Investing in Health: Whakatohutia te Oranga T_ngata A Framework for activating Primary Health Care nursing in New Zealand.” 2003. Wellington: Author
National Practice Standards for the Licensed Practical/ Vocational Nurse (NPLPN), Inc., 605 Poole Dr., Garner, NC 27529. October 2003. <www.nplpn.org>.
Smith, T.C. “Nursing Standards: The Basics of Professional Practice.” Approaches to Nursing Standards (n.d.): 7-18.
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