LPN - I am a Professional

I received a certificate in the mail yesterday. It states I am a professional. It states I can append the letters L.P.N. to the end of my name. Oh my goodness, what a feeling it was to read that. I've been practicing as a nurse for half a year, but the graduation date, date of the licensing exam, and time it took for licensure to take effect spanned out over 5-6 months. I've, rightfully, been calling myself a nurse for multiple months now, but now I have a certificate I can hang on my wall and I have the right to append acronyms to my name. Wow. What a feeling...

That said, let's take a look at some common myths I've already run into as a practical nurse.

"LPNs can't give injections," said by an RN and read in NRGH's training manual on first floor (cardiac). Wrong. LPNs are trained to give injections in the same manner and style as RNs. The only medications we cannot give thus far is IV medications (includes central lines). Read that again -- LPNs receive the same training as RNs for injections. We can put in subcutaneous butterflies, too. Pretty darn easy skill... I was pretty taken back when this surprised one of my coworkers, but I guess there isn't much effort put towards educated people on the ever-changing role of the LPN.

"LPNs only work in nursing homes." Said by a very friendly coworker of my boyfriend. Actually, LPNs are respected assets to hospitals all across Canada. We work with stable patients. This is where the line blurs -- RNs will take unstable patients while LPNs will care for stable ones. Keep in mind that LPNs/LVNs in Canada are not the same as LPNs in the USA.

"LPNs don't work in maternity wards." I won't beat around the bush, the charge nurse at NRGH's maternity ward was nothing short of rude to my entire class during or practicum. She did her best to make us feel unwelcome and questioned us being there for the entirety of our stay. I really ought to return to the ward to extend my sincere gratitude to the RNs there that welcomed us to the ward with open arms and took us under their wings. For licensing, LPNs are required to have at least one day of maternity during our practicum... Why? Because LPNs can work on all floors -- we are trained to care for the full life span. Our scope of practice expands from newborns to the elderly. We can take all ages, so long as the patient or resident/client is stable. In more remote hospitals, LPNs are sometimes the only nurse on duty in maternity wards and can assist with deliveries. Unfortunately, less remote hospitals are not as open to change and still sees LPNs as having the scope of practice they had nearly a decade ago -- back before we even gave oral medications.

LPNs can... insert urinary catheters, be trained for ear irrigation, trained for dis-impaction,trained for mechanical debridement, soon BC LPNs will be doing IV starts, we can remove surgical drains, perform dressing changes, remove stitches and staples, take all vitals, per rectal medications, oral medications, subcutaneous medications (butterfly or injection), intramuscular injections, can be trained for vaccination administration, topical medication, eye and ear drops, all personal care, assist with ambulation post-surgery, assist with vaginal deliveries, perform newborn baby assessments, baby baths, weights/vitals, etc., etc.

Our scope has changed. We are now what RNs were a decade or two ago. RNs are moving up, too! In fact, I believe they have just had stitches added to their scope! Awesome :D

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