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What Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Do

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (known as LPNs or LVNs, depending on the state in which they work) provide basic medical care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors.


Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses typically do the following:

Duties of LPNs and LVNs vary, depending on their work setting, For example, they may teach family members how to care for a relative; help to deliver, care for, and feed infants; collect samples for testing and do routine laboratory tests; or feed patients who need help eating.

Because medical care is regulated, LPNs and LVNs may be limited to doing certain tasks, depending on their state. In some states, for example, LPNs with proper training can give medication or start intravenous (IV) drips, while in other states they cannot. State regulations govern the extent to which LPNs and LVNs must be directly supervised; for example, an LPN may provide certain forms of care only with instructions from a registered nurse.

Experienced licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses oversee and direct other LPNs or LVNs and unlicensed medical staff.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition