According to a recent study carried out by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation–Illinois Center for Nursing, we may be in for a shortage of Licensed Practical Nurses in the near future. The survey was completed by around twenty-two percent of all Illinois LPNs. IDFPR secretary Bryan A. Schneider believes that this is due to the current LPN workforce aging, with insufficient younger, new LPNs to replace them as they enter retirement. He added that Licensed Practical Nurses play a hugely significant role in home care settings, nursing homes, and extended care facilities.
The poll results indicate that at least one-third of Licensed Practical Nurses in Illinois are planning retirement in the next five to ten years, especially those who are already over the age of 55. Ashley Harlow, administrator for memory care facility The Anchor which works with River to River Residential Communities in Marion and specializes in providing care to people with Alzheimer’s Disease, and Amanda Garner, River to River Residential administrator, are preparing for a potential shortage of LPNs to care for their patients. Harlow and Garver agree that for retiring Baby Boomers, retirement often coincides with a larger need for long-term care. They also added that the fact many see becoming an LPN as a stepping stone to more advanced training, for example a registered nurse practitioner and perhaps eventually a Doctor in Nursing Practice, also affects the LPN shortage.
LPN: Not Just a Stepping Stone
Many people train to become a Licensed Practical Nurse in order to gain valuable work experience which can lead to nursing school or to other opportunities which will enable them to train as a registered nurse or nurse practitioner. Currently, The Anchor employs ten nurses – one nursing director who is also a registered nurse, two registered nurses, and seven licensed practical nurses. Amongst their seven LPNs, one is currently training to become a registered nurse, another is applying to nursing school and two others are considering furthering their career and looking at requirements for nursing courses at schools such as Bradley University. However, despite this, both women say that so far, they have had no problem when finding new LPNs to work at The Anchor because it has a small staff to patient ratio.
How to Become an LPN
If you are interested in becoming a licensed practical nurse, you will first need to complete an approved educational program. You can choose to study either at college or online, where you’ll not only be able to study to become an LPN but also progress to study nursing further, with courses such as a DNP online course which gives you a Doctorate in Nursing Practice. Once you have completed nursing training, you will need to seek professional certification in order to practice as a licensed practical nurse. You can also improve your resume by gaining experience as support staff for current LPNs.
Chelsea Rentfro, who currently works at The Anchor as an LPN, says that she goes home every day knowing that she has made a difference.