Once you have studied to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), your career in the field of nursing has just started, and there is a far way to go if you choose to also do some of the many specialized programs for LPNs. The only thing in your way of going right to the top of the nursing career ladder is you yourself. There are various specialized programs for LPNs that will improve your career, provide opportunities for advancement and salary increases.
There is a need for Licensed Practical Nurses wherever patient care is required, and they can either continue to practice as an LPN, study further to become a Registered Nurse (RN) or follow another track and do some specialized programs for LPNs, of which there are in excess of 60 available, according to the Mayo clinic. Most LPNs start off their careers in hospitals, long-term facilities or clinics, and do the basic patient-care tasks such as taking down patient histories, taking vital signs, monitoring patients’ reactions to medication, assisting patients with their personal grooming, and generally seeing to their personal comfort.
Choosing to do one or more of the specialized programs for LPNs will make your foray in the world of nursing much more exciting, and will make you much more marketable to prospective employers; apart from the additional skills that you will gain from the specialized programs, doing them will also prove that you are passionate and dedicated about your career, which is what employers are looking for. There are many specialized programs for LPNs and the best way for you to decide which one or more you should do is to take stock of which field interests you most; if you enjoy working with babies then perhaps you should do a course in Pediatrics; if you have a soft spot for the elderly then I would suggest that you do a Geriatrics course; if you prefer to work one-on-one, then perhaps a Home Health Care program would suit you.
Some of the most popular specialized programs for LPNs are:
- Cardiology: Patients with heart conditions
- Critical Care: Patients are in critical condition and often require advanced medical care
- Emergency Care: Patients require immediate attention
- Geriatrics: Patients are 65 years or older
- Home Health Care: Patients receive treatment from the comfort of home
- Neonatology: Newborns under 28 days of age
- Oncology: Patients with cancer
- Pediatrics: Infants and children up to 18 years of age
The following are just a few more of the specialized programs for LPNs that are available:
LPN Hospice Certification
An LPN Hospice Certification is one of the specialized programs for LPNs that trains a Licensed Practical Nurse to care for those in the end-stages of their life. People are living longer and longer and therefore need nursing care longer, but there are also young and old individuals that are in need of care in their last days on earth, and who need dedicated, compassionate nursing to ease their transition. There is currently in excess of 2 000 hospices in the United States, and more than a million individuals who require palliative care.
Hospice versus Palliative Care
- Hospice Care – Hospice care is given to patients who are in the end-stages of a terminal illness, and who a medical doctor has determined will not benefit from medical treatment. Hospice care essentially means that an LPN cares for the patient either in the comfort of their own homes or in an institution and helps to ease their pain and suffering, allowing them to spend their last days on earth in peace and pain-free and to die with dignity.
- Palliative Care – Palliative care is given to patients who have life-threatening illnesses but who can still have some life-expectancy if given palliative care. This type of care focuses on the physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs and expectations of the patient, and could include aggressive forms of treatment.
Palliative and Hospice Nurses also provide support to the families of their patients, helping them to accept what is happening and keeping them informed as to what is transpiring with their loved one. The fact that the LPN is providing their loved one with end-of-life care and assisting them to live without pain and die with dignity also gives the family peace of mind.
LPN Pharmacology Certification
This is one of the popular specialized programs for LPNs, and one that is more than likely to increase your salary and make you more marketable. This type of certification shows commitment to the field of nursing and many employers will even sponsor an LPN for the pharmacology certification in exchange for them working for said employer for an agreed period of time.
This program is a mark of excellence that has allowed thousands of LPNs to gain a national, post-licensure credential, the National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Services (NAPNES) Certification in Pharmacology (NCP), and has been around since the mid 1960s.
LPNs who have gained their NCP will, apart from the normal LPN duties, also:
- Give injections and enemas
- Dress wounds
- Give alcohol rubs and massages
- Monitor patients for adverse reactions to treatments or any medication and report any to the RN or attending doctor
- Monitor Patients’ catheters
- Record fluid and food intake and output
LPNs that have successfully completed the program and certification exams are entitled to use the designation LPN, NCP in their signature/title.
Certification in Long-Term Care
Certification in Long-Term Care, generally referred to as CLTC, is another of the specialized programs for LPNs. This is a comprehensive program that covers the entire lifespan from the cradle to the grave for the chronically ill. NAPNES Long Term Care Certification has replaced what used to be the NAPNES Gerontology Certification program, and is a far more comprehensive program.
The Long Term Care Certification covers excellence in nursing for all age groups, which means that individuals who obtain this certification can care for babies, toddlers, seniors and any patient in-between that requires long-term care for a chronic illness. Licensed Practical Nurses who have completed this program and passed the certification examination can use the designation LPN CLTC, which serves to inform employers that that you are engaged in skill-building and possess the necessary knowledge in long-term care.
Ambulatory Care Nursing
Ambulatory care nursing is another of the specialized programs for LPNs which is very popular with those who like to work in outpatient settings where they will be required to make quick focused assessments of patients, deal with high volumes of patients and issues that are not predictable.
Ambulatory care nurses are often called on to teach the patients and/or their family how to do certain activities that will assist the patient to recuperate quicker, and therefore often foster long-term relationships patients and their families. Ambulatory care spans all populations and includes wellness to preventative care, illness care, and hospice or palliative care.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
This is one of the specialized programs for LPNs that requires the LPN to acquire a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a related bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible to apply to the program.
A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist works as a part of a team, alongside other medical professionals such as dentists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, podiatrists, or ophthalmologists, and often operates in rural areas where they provide much-needed services to the traditionally medically-underserved.
CRNAs provide pain-management services, deliver local, general or regional anesthesia, administer intravenous sedation, administer anesthesia to patients undergoing surgical procedures, monitor patients recovering from anesthesia, conduct pre-anesthetic evaluations, provide pain relief therapy, give drugs or fluids, and provide ventilator support if necessary.
Perioperative Licensed Practical Nurse
If you are looking to do some specialized programs for LPNs and are interested in surgery, then this is one program which bears looking into. The Perioperative Nursing for Licensed Practical Nurses program is designed for LPNs who are interested in pursuing a career in surgical nursing.
Perioperative nurses provide support and care support to patients before, during, and after surgery. They are also responsible for monitoring the patient during surgery, maintaining a sterile environment in the operating room, and providing care throughout the process.
If you are interested in not only caring for victims of crime, but also working with a legal team, assist police investigations, collecting forensic evidence connected to crimes, and providing consultation services to courts, law agencies and other medical personnel, then Forensic nursing is one of the most interesting specialized programs for LPNs that you could do.
A Forensic Nurse spends most of their time in a laboratory, but also travels to prisons, hospitals, various crime scenes, police departments and morgues.
There are various categories of forensic nurses:
- Correctional Nursing Specialist
- Forensic Psychiatric Nurse
- Forensic Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Forensic Nurse Investigator
- Forensic Gerontology Specialist
- Nurse Coroner
- Legal Nurse Consultant
- Sexual Assault Nurse
Advanced Education In Orthopaedics For LPNs
This is a post-diploma advanced certificate program that imbues LPNs with the knowledge and skills required for a specialized career in orthopaedics. This program serves to further an LPN’s understanding of physiology and anatomy with regards to orthopaedics and orthopaedic radiology, assessment, and trauma, and includes specialized orthopaedic procedures, including casting.
The program consists of two courses and a clinical practicum and upon completion of this program an LPN will be equipped to work in a cast room, an orthopaedic patient care area, and an emergency room.
There are many other short specialized programs for LPNs, including:
- Urinary Catheterization and Bladder Irrigation – This is a 30 hour, 2 credits program that is designed to provide a licensed practical nurse with the knowledge and skill required to safely insert, maintain, and remove a urinary catheter; safely care for a client requiring intermittent or continuous bladder irrigations; basic knowledge on caring for suprapubic catheters and the care of the catheter site of a client with peritoneal dialysis.
- Mental Health Nursing for LPNs – This is a 60 hour, 4 credits program that teaches LPNs to examine care based on best-evidence related to clients and their families whilst they are adjusting to changes in functioning associated with mental health issues and related treatments. The program builds on previous knowledge and related theory in adapting the nursing approach to the health promotion and care of mental health patients and their families. The course includes a 2-day observation experience in a mental health environment.
- Wound Care: Using a Standard Approach – This is a 30 hour, 2 credits program that is designed to provide the LPN with advanced knowledge and skills in wound management. Once an LPN has completed this course they will be in a position to work in a leadership role and apply the principles of wound healing in various settings.
- Infusion Therapy for Nurses – This is a 45 hour, 4 credits program that builds on an LPN’s previous knowledge with practices based on best evidence in intravenous therapy, infusion therapy, care of central lines, subcutaneous infusion therapy (hypodermoclysis), medication administration, and blood transfusions. The program includes a laboratory component during which students will apply new theories and practice nursing skills related to infusion therapy, including IV cannula insertion.
- Nasogastric Tube Insertion – This is a 15 hour, 1 credit program that teaches an LPN the knowledge and skills necessary to safely insert, maintain, and remove a nasogastric tube, the use of nasogastric tubes for tube feedings and oral medication administration, nursing assessments and the roles and responsibilities of the LPN in relation to nasogastric intubation.
Whichever of the specialized programs for LPNs you decide to do, you will find that the knowledge that you gain, together with the esteem that another qualification gives you is well worth the effort, and will also open up many new avenues to you, so pick specializations that you will enjoy and have fun while you learn and earn.