Licensed Practical Nurses: A Dying Breed?

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media , April 12, 2011

As healthcare delivery changes, do licensed practical nurses (also known as licensed vocational nurses) still have a role to play in acute care? A growing number of organizations have decided they do not and are actively phasing out the role.

Just last week, local media reported that Schuylkill Medical Center-South Jackson Street, located in Pottsville, PA, decided to phase out all LPN roles within the next six months. LPNs will be encouraged with the aid of existing tuition reimbursement programs to pursue education to become RNs. Another option for the LPNs is to move into nursing aide positions with lower pay.

Across the country, organizations are wondering whether the LPN meshes with the direction acute care delivery is headed. In some areas of the country, staff shortages mean the LPN in acute care cannot be abandoned. However, as healthcare delivery changes and hospitals streamline care delivery models, organizations are acutely aware they will need staff with higher levels of education to provide the nursing care needed by hospital patients.

Moving away from LPNs must be handled with care. Depending on the number of LPNs an organization employs, the move could be contentious if not handled with tact. Some organizations have faced the threat of age discrimination suits from LPNs angry at being pushed out.

Others believe that pursuing designation as an ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® (MRP) facility—a designation of nursing excellence—involves doing away with the LPN. The popular nursing website Allnurses.com has featured discussions where LPNs believed pursuing MRP designation would get them fired. In fact, the MRP program has no requirements for RN-only care models.

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4 comments on "Licensed Practical Nurses: A Dying Breed?"


Sandy Partain (2/2/2016 at 9:26 AM)
Rebecca, I do agree with the other writers.. Please check your facts before stating this insulting information. I have worked as a LPN and known many other LPNs who have functioned professionally in all areas of patient care. I currently have a staffing company for healthcare providers. The hospitals, clinics and long term care facilities are eager to request an LPN when the job description allows. It keeps their overhead down. I have several LPNs who are extremely proficient in their skills and are continuously preferred over the high paid RN. Again please check your facts.

Jack Steffen (12/18/2015 at 7:13 PM)
This is all about money, as most things in this world today are. Hospitals stand to gain millions of dollars if they convert to all RN staffing. Hospitals of course don't want to miss out on any of this money. It's not about nursing skills or so called critical thinking. As an LPN who does patient assessments, med passes, wound and respiratory care, I would consider it an insult to be categorized as "unlicensed personnel". But some people don't care about that - this is what money and the chase for it does to people. As another commenter here noted this story was probably written by someone with a vested interest in seeing LPNs eliminated for more money.

Joanna Schlabotz (5/22/2013 at 6:29 AM)
I just read an article that linked to this one and I must say I'm appalled at the misinformation and defaming of LPNs. To even mention the subject of a process that goes on in one's mind (that would be "thinking" Rebecca, critical or otherwise) as something that can be measured shows a decided lack of the same in the author. In short, Rebecca, I believe this site is most likely sponsored by someone with a stake in the issue. Sometimes it takes time to peel the onion, but it will be done nonetheless for the benefit of unknowing readers who are unaware of how unscrupulous these groups can be.

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