Advance for LPNs/Florida and MetroAtlanta/ February 20, 2006

Editor’s Note:  the reader is referring to a National News story, “Study Call for More RN Staffing,” which appeared in the Jan. 25 issue of our online edition (www.advanceweb.com/LPN.  The news piece focused on the study “Nurse Staffing in Hospitals:  Is There a Business Case for Quality?” published in the January/February issue of the journal Health Affairs.  The study indicated that certain hospitals could avoid 5,000 deaths if they replaced 37,000 LPNs with RNs.

To The Editor
It has been my impression the LPN role has increased over the years.  I am a hospice nurse inFlorida, and I have the same duties as the RNs.  I have even been a charge nurse over an RN agency nurse, and have trained new RNs. LPNs, if certified for IV Therapy, can now give IV pushes without direct supervision of the RN.

There has been talk about getting rid of the LPNs for many years now.  I believe strongly that there is a place for LPNs.  Considering we make quite a bit less money than RNs while having the same nursing responsibilities, it would be advantageous to keep us.

I know a lot of LPNs who outshine RN’s in patient care and management skills.  There are LPNs, like myself, who were not able to get into RN school because of the long waiting list and took PN schooling with the intention of going on for their RN.  When I (graduated from PN school, a new LPN) had to be in the field for 1 year before applying to the transition program for RN training, and that would only take two semesters to complete.  I understand that has changed now and you can transition right after finishing PN school.

Like me, many LPNs didn’t go to nursing school until their kids were leaving for college.  I went through nursing school at age 48.  I have been a nurse for over 10 years now and have been so blessed with my career.  I have wanted to be a nurse since I was 7 years old.  I have been in psychiatric and geriatric nursing, and served as a float nurse in a large practice with doctors in every field.  Now I am blessed to be a hospice nurse.

Considering the current shortage of nurses, to limit the LPNs role would not only be unwise, it would be foolish.  Not everyone wants to work as a specialty nurse.  Not everyone wants to be a manager.  LPNs have always been known for being the “hands-on-nurses,” and most of us like it that way.  Let the RNs be the managers, teachers, and “high tech” nurses.  Please allow the LPNs to continue their role in patient care.  The RNs need us so they can relieve the heavy load and responsibility that they carry.  Thank you.

–Estelle P. Shrum LPN,Jacksosnville,FL