Becoming an LP in California is a path that can lead you into an entirely new life! LP, or LPN, stands for ‘licensed practical nurse’. In California and Texas, the acronym ‘LPN’ and ‘LVN’ are interchangeable; LVN stands for ‘licensed vocational nurse’. These people take care of the ill and injured in hospitals and clinics, but can also be called on to care for convalescent and handicapped patients in private homes or sanatoriums. A wide variety of job opportunities and career paths surround an LPN in California.
Unlike a registered nurse, or RN, a licensed practical nurse in the state of California must graduate from a state-sponsored vocational nursing school instead of a degree. Most of these schools offer certification in a year or less; certification is much less costly than the three or four years of schooling required from an RN. Each LP in California is required to show evidence of continued education, although ‘continued education’ can take many forms. Attending seminars or lectures, participating in workshops or extension studies, and in-service work can all contribute to the thirty hours of education required for license renewal every two years.
Licensing and License Renewal
The Board of Vocational Nurses and Psychiatric Technician Examiners, Department of Consumer Affairs must license each practical nurse in California before they may begin practicing. Qualified license applicants are at least 17 years of age and have been certified by an approved vocational nursing school. They must also pass the licensing examination, which is offered three times a day, six days a week in various locations throughout California. Once an LP in California passes the licensing examination and is approved for work, the license is good for two years’ time. After that, it must be renewed by the board.
There is a $50 cost associated with a first-time licensing application and a $75 fee for the license itself. Renewed licenses also incur a $75 fee.
An LP in California makes an average of $18.84 an hour, a salary higher than LPs in most other states. Salary rates depend on the type of shift being worked, with a higher rate available for those who take evening shifts, and the place of employment. Many hospitals prefer hiring LPs instead of RNs because of the lower pay rate, but an LP working in a hospital can make more than one working for a private client. As with any other career, paychecks vary depending on hours worked, level of experience, and the employer.
Hours and Logistics
Nursing of any sort requires a fair amount of physical labor and the life of an LPN in California is no exception to this rule. Lifting patients and equipment can make many LPs predisposed to back injuries or strain, as can the stress and tension of their job. Another basic concern for any health practitioner is the exposure to communicable diseases, which often include STDs and other life-threatening conditions. Consequently, most employers of LPs offer sick leave and health insurance as fringe benefits. Paid vacations, holiday leave, and pension plans can also be included in the benefits a nurse in California can receive.
Hours for LPs vary depending on the employer, but new employees are more likely to begin their work on an evening or night shift by simple seniority. 40-hour weeks are normal for most LPs, although the actual hours worked are less predictable.
Getting the Job, and Getting Ahead
Check out this great YouTube video that is a good beginner’s guide to anyone looking for a licensed practical nursing job.
There are many resources designed to help a licensed practical nurse in California find the right job. Private employment agencies and the California Employment Department can be a great help in placing LPs with both private clients and hospitals. Local governments and nursing associations are also excellent places to begin a job search as a licensed practical nurse, as are medical recruitment agencies. As always, word of mouth and newspaper advertisements can be good sources to find out about job openings. It is also advisable to join the California Licensed Vocational Nurses Association or the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses to remain advised about news on recent industry happenings. These organizations can also provide a strong colleague support system in times of need.
For an LP in California trying to become a registered nurse, the best course of action is to pursue a degree from a local school of professional nursing while continuing to work as a licensed practical nurse.