According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPN-related job growth is projected to be 22 percent through 2020. Growth above the national average makes an LPN credential attractive, and there are other reasons a licensed practical nurse is likely to find stellar job security in the future.
There's a slight debate in the healthcare industry about whether or not the decade-long nursing shortage exists, but most experts are ready to admit the fact that nurses are in high demand. According to the Department of Health, 400,000 nurses are expected to retire in 2015, leaving an enormous gap in the already-stretched staff of many hospitals and clinics. One cost-effective solution to the growing demand is to mix LPN nursing staff with a small number of RNs. LPNs can tackle a range of day-to-day patient-care tasks, freeing RNs up for nurse management duties or more complex functions. Adding LPNs to the payroll also keeps patient-to-nurse ratios low without blowing tight hospital budgets.
Some companies in the healthcare industry are promoting LPN-to-RN education programs; nurses working for select facilities can take part in tuition reimbursement programs aimed at leveling up a new group of workers. Since an LPN license can require as little as two years at school, it's often the preferred route for individuals who are interested in nursing but can't afford an extended and expensive education. Companies are recognizing this fact and opening the doors to LPNs as a way to fill nursing positions and eventually promote from within.
The demand for LPNs isn't limited to hospital settings. The biggest demand for LPNs may be in settings like home health care, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. LPNs also find work in physicians' offices, pharmacies, imaging facilities, and physical therapy clinics.
Though the BLS numbers indicate an obvious demand for licensed practical nurses, job growth isn't equal across every state. LPNs, and nurses in general, can often land the best jobs through a willingness to relocate. Hospitals in cities with extreme nursing shortages often offer hiring bonuses that could cover the cost of a move. California, Connecticut, Alaska, Georgia, Florida, New Jersey, and Texas are some of the states with the biggest nursing shortage. Larger cities, such as Austin, TX; Raleigh, NC; Portland, OR; and Denver, CO, tend to offer the best job prospects to nurses. Even the relative paradise of Honolulu is troubled by a shortage of nursing professionals.
The demand for professionals with an LPN credential is high; even in areas where nursing-related job numbers aren't keeping pace with the national average, a qualified candidate is unlikely to go without work for long. Being open to new locations, learning new skills, and seeking additional education can increase an LPN's chances at stable employment.
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