The Challenges and Rewards of Becoming a Practical Nurse

The Challenges and Rewards of Becoming a Practical Nurse

If you want a rewarding and challenging career, choose a profession that matches your interests, aptitudes, and career goals. If you’re considering becoming a practical nurse, it’s important to explore what training involves and how the work aligns with your values before moving forward. Nursing has many rewards, but it also has its challenges.

Why Does Someone Become a Nurse?

People choose to become nurses for a broad range of personal and practical reasons, such as:

A Desire to Help Others

Compassionate people are often drawn to the nursing field because of a genuine desire to improve others’ lives. Nurses play a crucial role as frontline caregivers and patient advocates, supporting individuals and entire communities through sickness and health.

A Challenge

Nursing is personally and professionally challenging. It pushes the boundaries of your knowledge and compassion. As a science-driven field, there’s always something new and meaningful to learn. You’ll grow as a person and a healthcare provider.

Personal Fulfillment

Nurses develop close therapeutic relationships with their patients, providing comfort and support during challenging times. You’ll applaud their successes and mourn their setbacks. While you can serve people in any occupation, few fields are as emotionally gratifying as healthcare. As a nurse, you can make miracles happen.

What Are Some of the Challenges and Rewards of Becoming a Practical Nurse?

The challenges and rewards of practical nursing vary based on your preferences, but a few stand out.

The Rewards of Becoming a Practical Nurse

An aging population and shifting demographics are driving higher demand for practical nurses. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects strong growth within the nursing field through 2031. As more jobs are replaced with automation, nursing remains a secure career choice. Healthcare will always require a human touch.

A Quick Start

The best careers in the healthcare field require years in college to train for. But you can become a practical nurse in a fraction of the time. You’ll be out of the classroom and into the field while your peers are still studying and trying to pay their bills. It’s an ideal way for adults with responsibilities to make a career move without being out of the workforce for too long.

Accessible Training

RN degree programs are overwhelmed with applicants. Too few teachers for too many students means long wait lists and tighter admission criteria. It’s a crisis with no end in sight.

The vocational school admission process is less competitive, everyone is welcome to apply. If you’re ready to become a nurse but don’t want to wait to get started, becoming an LPN is a step in the right direction. For some students, it offers a two-, three- or even four-year jump on their nursing careers.

Flexible Work Settings

Practical nurses are employed wherever healthcare is offered, so you’re never stuck working in one place. Whether you enjoy the excitement of a busy hospital or the laid-back atmosphere in a nursing home, you can choose the job that’s right for you as you work, grow and change.

A Supportive Team

Teamwork is rare in some fields, but it’s the standard in medicine. As a practical nurse, you’ll work in a supportive environment with dedicated colleagues who work together toward a common goal. Shared values drive camaraderie.

Professional Autonomy

Practical nurses are entry-level professionals. As part of a team, they have the support of other healthcare providers. But they’re nonetheless licensed nurses who can make independent decisions within their scope of practice. It’s a level of autonomy few people achieve without a college degree.

Specialization Opportunities

There are no fewer than a dozen specialty certificates LPNs can obtain, improving their odds of working in a specific area of medicine, such as gerontology or pediatrics. IV certification is among the most valuable and can lead to gainful opportunities in home health.

Advancement Potential

LPNs have fewer opportunities for career advancement compared to registered nurses. You can still qualify for supervisory positions, but management and leadership roles are generally reserved for RNs.

But the good news is that being an LPN helps you get into an RN degree program; you may bypass the wait list entirely at some schools. And new LPN-to-RN programs are making it even easier to grow your nursing career. In the meantime, you’ll be earning money and gaining valuable experience.

The Challenges of Becoming a Practical Nurse

The Hours

Work hours vary by setting for practical nurses, but it’s a rare job that doesn’t include the occasional night, weekend, or holiday shift. Still, employers do their best to balance work requirements with time-off needs.

Most around-the-clock facilities, for example, have a rotation system whereby nurses take turns working the least desirable shifts. By ensuring that no individual is consistently burdened with too many holiday or weekend hours, employers help maintain a positive work-life balance for their clinical staff.

Others offer all-weekend or all-night shifts for a premium wage so that other nurses can work weekdays only. Overall, that’s good news for both early birds and night owls because there are so many schedule options.

Home care is a good alternative for nurses who need specific schedules. And most clinics and doctor’s offices offer a regular Monday through Friday schedule. New graduates might have to work hours they don’t like for a few months before landing the schedule of their choice in a large facility, but opportunities evolve continually.

The Backaches

Nursing can be a physically demanding career, requiring long hours on your feet plus bending, twisting, and reaching. If you’re not careful, the wrong move can lead to injury.

Most healthcare facilities, however, are proactive about preventing injuries, sparing no expense to give nurses the equipment they need to stay healthy. Still, it can be strenuous work, so self-care is critical.

The Emotional Rollercoaster

It feels great to be a nurse when your patients get better. But sometimes, that’s not in the cards. Witnessing pain, suffering and emotional distress can take a toll on your emotional well-being. The coping skills you’ll learn in school are helpful, however. And with time, it gets easier to see the silver lining in difficult situations.

What Does a Practical Nurse Do?

Practical nurses, also known as vocational nurses in some states, provide basic bedside nursing care. Their job responsibilities vary by setting, but typically include:

Assisting with Activities of Daily Living

LPNs help patients with everyday activities, such as bathing, dressing, eating and elimination. You may also assist with recreational activities and therapeutic exercises, doing for people what they can’t do for themselves.

Helping with Mobility/Keeping People Mobile

Immobility has consequences from bed sores to muscle atrophy. So, whether it’s repositioning bed-confined patients or helping people move from bed to wheelchair, you’ll do your best to keep them moving.

Patient Monitoring

Practical nurses are a doctor’s eyes and ears. They monitor patients for changes in condition, notifying their supervisor if they notice unusual symptoms. Acting quickly makes interventions more successful.

Performing Procedures

LPNs perform or assist with a wide range of medical procedures, from complex wound care to catheterization. You’ll remove sutures, flush feeding tubes, maintain tracheotomies, and check blood glucose.

Provide Emergency Care

As part of a vocational school program, practical nurses are trained in basic life support techniques, including CPR and emergency oxygen administration. Additional training in advanced life support protocols is available and particularly valuable for LPNs employed in hospitals.

Emotional Support

Nursing is a holistic practice. An LPN is responsible for their patient’s physical, emotional, and psychosocial well-being. In residential settings, patients may spend more time with nurses than with family, so it’s up to the staff to give them the emotional support they need. Yours may be the only shoulder they have to cry on.


Practical nurses are responsible for documenting the care they provide. This includes recording vital signs, medication administration, changes in patient condition and their response to treatments. Clear and concise notes are essential for effective communication among healthcare professionals.

Patient Education

LPNs provide basic education on healthcare topics, such as medication administration, wound care, disease management, and home safety measures. They explain treatment plans, assist with family education, and ensure patients understand their doctor’s instructions.

Team Collaboration

LPNs work closely with RNs, physicians, and other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive care. They communicate patient updates, participate in care conferences, and contribute to care planning and implementation. As advocates, they also represent patients, ensuring that their voices are heard.

How Do You Become an LPN?

Becoming a practical nurse is as easy as completing a vocational school program. All you need to apply is a high school diploma or general equivalency certificate.

Upon graduation, you’ll apply for a license through Ohio Board of Nursing regulatory authority. Once approved, you’ll sit for the licensure exam, the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Pass it, and you’re ready to get to work. Vocational schools have close partnerships with healthcare facilities in your area, they’ll help you connect with potential employers.

How Long Is an LPN Program?

Full-time students can complete an LPN program in about a year. You’ll graduate with a diploma, ready to rock the nursing world. The comprehensive curriculum combines classroom instruction with hands-on clinical experience to provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to pass the licensure exam and practice in your preferred workplace. It’s a short path to a long and successful career.

Final Thoughts

Nurses are born, not made. Training only brings out the best in your abilities. While choosing a career requires careful consideration, trust your instincts, and take the road that resonates with you. If you feel like you were born to change lives, the rewards of nursing are worth the challenges.

Want to Learn More?

The Practical Nursing (PN) Program provided by the Ohio Business college is 44 weeks or four quarters in length. The program covers a combination of theory, nursing skills lab, simulation lab, and clinical experiences. Once you graduate from the PN program, you will be fully qualified to write to the NCLEX-PN® to become licensed as an LPN in the state of Ohio.


Contact us today to learn more about our LPN programs.