Practical nurses are an important part of many healthcare teams.
They assist registered nurses, physicians, and specialists with patient needs. Practical nurses use care while administering to those in need by gathering patient information, delivering medications, helping patients with personal cleanliness, and providing information on subjects that can better the patient's health.
They also help with the care of newborns, obtaining lab samples, and certain lab procedures. The list of possibilities continues on even to medical record keeping and other office or clerical duties. These duties are carried out in hospitals, doctor's offices, home health care programs, nursing care facilities, and several other medical facilities.
The need for this position in the healthcare field is growing and will continue to grow for years. There are several factors for the increase in demand for practical nurses. One of these reasons is new technology. Advances in medicine have meant that some of the procedures that were reserved for hospital stays are now being done on an outpatient basis, and a higher demand for these facilities.
These advances also mean longer life spans for Americans, which leads to needing increased medical care for longer periods of time. Another cause for the growth is the higher number of baby boomers entering retirement. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there will be approximately 78 million baby boomers turning 65 in 2011, and their medical needs will have to be met.
Yet another reason for this growth is the average age of nurses. As the current nurses retire, there will need to be up and coming nurses to replace their number, and the workforce in place now will not support this need. All of these issues are why there is a larger demand for practical nurses and why that trend will continue for several years.
For those who decide to enter the profession of practical nursing there are some requirements that have to be met. One of these requirements is the completion of a state certified program. These programs usually last for about a year. The next step is passing the exam for licensing, which is issued by the state's Board of Nursing. Some of the courses that are required for practical nurses can be transferred and given credit towards registered nurse programs for those who wish to advance to that position.
Most schools have some form of financial aid, for students who qualify. With some programs, applicants can apply online, but others prefer for their prospective students to apply in person so that they can tour the facility and go through financial counseling. To be admitted to one of these programs, a high school diploma or equivalent, is required. Some schools may also require an aptitude test and possibly a physical exam.
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