Licensed practical nurses (LPN) serve as primary caregivers to patients under the direction of a registered nurse or a physician. The LPN provides bedside care to help patients have the speediest and most effective recovery possible. Job growth among LPNs is expected to increase by 21 per cent from 2008 to 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. LPNs must develop a number of practical skills needed in the clinical setting.
As one of the primary caregivers for patients, practical nurses need to develop a number of different communication skills. Among those communication skills, one of the more important skills is the ability to actively listen. Sick patients who may be unable to effectively communicate may need the nurse to ascertain what they are trying to say, even when it is not clearly communicated. Active listening also involves listening intently to the patient, not interrupting him until he has communicated his needs and asking the appropriate follow-up questions to ensure that both the nurse and patient understand each other. This means that the LPN must also be able to speak clearly and cogently to convey messages to patients, doctors and other nurses for the patient's well-being.
Practical nurses must be able to think on their feet. They are constantly on the go and must have good decision-making skills. According to O-Net, practical nurses must weigh the benefits and costs of their actions relative to the well-being of the patient. The decisions that the LPN makes can affect the health of the patient, especially in critical situations. This also means that nurses must develop critical thinking skills, or the ability to use logic and reasoning abilities to determine possible alternative actions whenever necessary.
Practical nurses need a variety of clerical skills to perform their jobs effectively. LPNs spend much of their day taking patients' vital signs and recording them in their charts or electronic records. Practical nurses must do so accurately to avoid any adverse treatments being given to the patient based on false information. The nurse must be as observant as possible in all aspects of her job.
The practical nurse must use basic physical skills associated with nursing practice. Basic hand-eye coordination skills are necessary to perform tasks associated with the job. Practical nurses must use hypodermic needles, handheld spirometers, prepare patients for procedures, dress wounds and even give enemas to patients. They may need to lift patients from time-to-time.