LPNs in Illinois: Setting the Record Straight

I’ve heard many myths over the years about licensed practical nurses, or LPNs. I’m here to clear up misconceptions about what LPNs do, where they work, and how much money they make. By setting the record straight, I hope to present a more accurate picture about the role of the LPN in our heath care system.

What Do LPNs Do?
LPNs in Illinois are allowed to perform many of the same skills as their registered nursing (RN) coworkers, such as initiating IV starts, administering medications, collecting data on patients, and monitoring for changes in condition. They check vital signs and perform wound care and dressing changes, specimens collection, urinary catheter insertion and care, care of patients with ventilators and tracheostomies, ostomy site care and maintenance, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), finger stick blood sugar testing, and much more. Proper charting and documentation of nursing care is also the LPN’s responsibility.

The LPN works under the supervision of an RN or physician;
however, the LPN is often the only licensed nurse present in many facilities. LPNs also supervise nursing assistants in certain healthcare settings. With the right mix of experience, LPNs can be promoted to administrative positions such as wellness directors, assistant directors of nursing, wound care clinicians, staffing coordinators, and case managers.

Where Do LPNs Work?
nurseOne of the most believed but inaccurate myths is that LPNs can only work in long-term care. While many LPNs do work in long-term care, it is not the only work they can or choose to do. LPNs work in acute care hospitals, and in fact, are increasingly being hired in our local hospitals. LPNs also secure employment in nursing homes, hospices, home health, private duty cases, psychiatric hospitals, prisons/jails, rehabilitation facilities, group homes, clinics, doctors’ offices, assisted living facilities, agencies, military instillations, and schools. I have even had pharmaceutical drug companies call asking for names of graduates for drug rep positions.

How Much Do LPNs Make?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses is projected to grow 25 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.” The bureau also states, “the median annual wage for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses was $41,540 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,970, and the top 10 percent earned more than $57,360.”

What is the Difference between an LPN and an RN?
In the state of Illinois, LPNs can’t give IV push medication, take care of central lines, or hang blood. They do, however, monitor the blood.

A large percentage of LPNs plan to further their career and become RNs. Choosing to become an LPN first has many advantages. It can allow more time for the student to advance and also be able to manage their busy lives, be more involved in family affairs, and gain experience and make more money until they choose to go back to school. Once the decision is made to continue their education, bridging into Parkland’s RN program allows them to start in the 3rd semester of the program. Currently, there are students who came to Parkland and graduated as an LPN, completed the RN Bridge, and are now in BSN programs and master’s degree programs. The biggest difference is just the route the student decides to take.

***Check out LPN offerings for spring NOW in the Parkland College spring 2016 catalog. Night/weekend nursing class options are available in the upcoming semester, making it more convenient to earn your degree!***

[Joanne Heck is director of Parkland’s Practical Nursing program.]

13 thoughts on “LPNs in Illinois: Setting the Record Straight”

    1. Hello Christina! Glad to hear you are working on your BSN! I’m proud you began it all in the Parkland LPN Program!!

  1. Parkland is also not an accredited nursing school so good luck finding a decent job. LPN are essentially CNA’s with a degree. They work below the nurses. LPN’s only administer oral and intravenous medications. The median wage is $38,000 on the higher end in IL.

    1. Not true. I’m a LPN and i make well over 60,000 a year. I made 40,000 a year as a CNA. I not trying to start a fight just stating facts.

    2. Not true at all! I graduated from Parkland’s LPN program and currently work for the VA. I make WELL over $38,000 a year and have a great responsibility in my current working environment. I was even chosen for the National Secretaries Award for Execellence in Nursing (one chosen per year for the entire VA, nationally) and went to Washington DC to receive the award along with ONE RN, ONE advanced practice nurse and ONE nurse exec. So please do not discount the LPN role! We are an important part of ANY facility that employees LPN’s and are respected highly by our RN counterparts and nurse managers…

  2. LPN programs are in community colleges throughout the state of Illinois, and the country. There are 19 programs throughout Illinois, and in reviewing these programs all (including Parkland) have been approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation as required by the State of Illinois, as is the standard for LPN programs. All of these programs form the first year of any RN program and are easily transferable to any associate or bachelor’s program. The National League of Nursing supports and values the Practical Nurse role as a vital part of the “nursing ladder” as well as an important member of the healthcare team. See the series published by NLN several years ago at the NLN website.

    According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), the base employment of LPNs in 2012 was $23,110. LPN jobs are predicted to grow faster than average and are expected to reach 27,709 in number by 2022. There are approximately 1,024 openings across Illinois.

    According to The Department of Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the range of LPN salaries across Illinois is $29,586 – $50, 990.

    According to the IDFPR Center for Nursing website, Parkland’s LPN program has had a 91% average pass rate the past five years. All those who graduate and seek employment are employed.

    If you would like to know more about how to become and LPN or learn more about what LPNs do, GO AHEAD… call Parkland’s Health Professions Department at 217/353-2126 to speak to the program director, or 217/353-2468 to speak to the assistant dean of students in Health Professions.

  3. Hi Haley,
    Thank you for taking the time to express your opinion of LPN’s and the LPN Program. I was disappointed in your response at my attempt to reach out and share accurate information about LPN’s with everyone who has an interest in nursing.
    Just to clear things up, LPN’s do not administer IV medication in the state of Illinois. They are licensed nurses who are employed in a variety of health care facilities in the Champaign-Urbana area. They work with RN’s, doctors, and other professionals as part of a team. As I’m sure you read in my post, LPN’s are in more demand than any other occupation at this time. In fact, a local hospital is offering a $1,000 sign on bonus for LPN’s!
    I was curious about your statement about LPN wages so looked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and how much LPN’s make in the Champaign-Urbana area. The accurate mean wages are $20.45 an hour and $42,530 a year, specifically for Champaign-Urbana. LPN wages are predicted to increase 25% in the next seven years (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Students who have graduated from the LPN Program have made their lives better, are better able to provide for their children, and can further their education to reach bigger and better goals. Becoming an LPN will change your life and make a difference in the lives of others.

    1. I loved starting as an LPN. Was it a longer route, absolutely but It gave me the freedom to finish school debt free. I currently am in the RN bridge program then on to my BSN. I was able to work 3; 12hour days as an LPN while making over 20$ an hour. Leaving me time for school, work and family. Plus getting valuable experience taking care of a range of people from G-tubes, tracheostomy patients, patient in dialysis, and the everyday elderly patient with Alzheimer’s. It definitely makes the RN program easier with the experience I have gained. If you just think LPNs work under RNs with no actual worth you cannot be further from the truth. I have trained RNs that have worked in clinics that came to our facility with skills they had forgotten how to use. We all are nurses, the foundation is the same no matter how many letters are after your name. I will always be proud that I did the Parkland LPN program.

  4. Savvy suggestions ! For what it’s worth , people a CT JD-CV-3a , We filled out a fillable form here http://goo.gl/CvuXL0.

  5. I am a LPN with 2years of experience and 21 years of experience as a CNA. LPNs can hang IVs if cerified by the Infusion Therapy Insitiute in DesPlaines,Il. LPNS, are in the long term setting, clinics, private practices of Drs, home health, private duty, school nursing. LPNs cannot work ICU, CCU, PACU, Med-Surg, in the big hospitals that obtain magnet status e.g UOC, Rush, Illinois Masonic. Assoicate RNs are being pushed to get their BSN, or leave the hospital setting. Hopefully this clarified the up above myths and negative. If not, go to the IDPH website and read the Nurse Practice Act for LPN or RN.

  6. Oh my goodness I am an LPN for thirty five years now.Back in the 80s We did everything from IVs to inserting N/G tubes..Just recently had been doing blood draws in KY and had to take the specimens to the hospital when we clocked out !!Small southern town. I love LTC setting it’s very rewarding .I am currently back in Illinois (Chicago) area and find it embarrassing to have to ask an RN to hang a piggyback for me.I guess where I’m going with this is just because LPN is behind someone’s name don’t automatically assume we don’t know what we are doing.A lot of us old timers can insert a catheter,Hug a resident,and find Moms missing dentures and handle a 3 hr med pass in two hours like it was nothing.All you young LPNs yes continue your education Laws are changing rapidly and you don’t want to get left behind !!God Bless !!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *