Hospitals can and should increase their employment of LPNs while instituting practices that enable LPNs, RNs and other members of the nursing staff to function as an effective team.
While LPNs cannot substitute for RNs, they can be utilized to their full scope of practice, thus adding a highly qualified, cost-effective member to the nursing team.Hospitals need to work with other stakeholders to increase the number of accessible LPN programs in order to increase the number of new LPNs.
-Nursing staff working at the bedside should have a voice in the decisions that affect them, including appropriate staffing levels and mix.
-Creating appropriate job descriptions for LPNs,including any specialty experience needed, and making sure that the job description is clearly communicated to all current staff to prevent role confusion.
-Developing a unit-specific curriculum for training LPNs to work to the full extent of their authority.
-Developing and implementing an orientation and mentoring plan for LPNs. To make the transition succeed, it is important that hospitals provide additional compensation for mentors, as well as for LPNs who upgrade skills and take on expanded duties.
These recommendations will put the hospital industry in a much stronger position to address nursing shortages and to guarantee the highest quality of patient care.