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Visit the Hot Jobs section of the website for the most current opportunities, the Employer list section to find all of the companies who hire LPNs, the Career Fairs section, and the Job Finding Tips for advice on landing that sought after position!
Okay, this blog topic is sensitive and may not be suitable for everyone. Reader discretion is advised.
I’m going to raise an issue that has bothered me in the past and one that I know has erked a few of you out there.
I’m just going to talk about it.
Comparing Licensed Practical Nurses to Registered Nurses; there I said it, it’s out there. Now, I’m not talking about the comparison in scope. That is pretty much written in stone and for LPNs it depends on where you work and your employer will give you the break down on any restrictions on your full scope. I’m talking about the stigma, the belief by the general public.
Working in health care we know it doesn’t really matter how well we do our own jobs, but it matters how well the majority thinks we do our jobs. It’s hard to change the minds of others once they are made. This makes it challenging for me as an LPN, one of the fastest growing professions, to change the mind of Mr. “can I speak to a real nurse”…. I am a real nurse. I know I’m not the only one and I’m sure there are many stories out there; once you get people talking.
For me, I don’t notice a huge difference. When I’m at work I don’t care if you are an LPN or RN. I want your professional opinion and I have always had excellent support from both sides, like how a team should function. Some of my favorite people are RNs and LPNs and I respect them all. It just bothers me when every other day I get asked, “When are you going to get your RN?” Well… maybe never? Maybe next year? I don’t know if I want to continue down that path or grow in the LPN role. I would love the accomplishment of a Degree because that is a great accomplishment; just like any education. There are many RNs with diplomas, not degrees; the real knowledge comes from experience. Besides, school is expensive and very few bridging options for LPNs (which is a shame). I like learning slow and building on my knowledge and skills, it just sticks better. When I was younger I wanted to be a lawyer (because I like to argue) and then a Doctor because I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do, I wanted to write the orders. But I grew up and what I wanted to be had changed.
It is not only the general public that have this thought or behavior, nurses too are guilty. I remember I overheard a new grad once reply to that very famous question, “Are you and RN or LPN?” with “Oh, I’m JUST and LPN.” Boy, I gave her an earful, never ever play down your accomplishments. I laugh every time I read a charting entry, “Report given to Stephanie, RN” or when family members automatically assume you are an Registered Nurse and are “surprised you are an LPN” It is an honest mistake and in a way a nice compliment. Not just to me or the LPN profession but to the team, working so well together that nobody really knows the difference because everyone is knowledgeable and responsible.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that the majority of the time it’s just because people don’t know what LPNs are capable of doing and what body of knowledge they possess and that is understandable since our profession has had a lot of growth and change since the1980s. So how do we change this? By websites like LPNcafe.ca; through professional organizations like LPNABC or your local regulating body and through public education. Lastly, doing the best job you can do everyday and not waiting for patients or family to ask you that oh so famous question. Instead, just smile and proudly say I’m a LPN.
Feel free to share your experiences and solutions with this topic.
I work with an amazing group of people and have been very blessed to come across colleagues and friends with great stories and achievements throughout their careers. It inspires me to be a better Nurse. I want to share a profile on one of my many talented colleagues (hopefully I can share all of them with you); Karen Kootenay. She is an LPN with a very Big heart; and she makes a mean batch of chili! I asked Karen a few questions about being an LPN.
Here is what she had to say:
Let’s start by asking what does it mean to you to be an LPN?
- For me being an LPN means that I have the knowledge and skills to help my client, to stay in their home, which is where most people want to be. I believe that we should not judge the “quality of life” chosen by a person, but see how we can facilitate their goal within the bounds of safety and best practice, including having a “good death” I fell that’s important as it is the last thing we can do for our clients., and their families. I am also very proud of the fact that I have the skills to make a difference (hopefully for the better) for clients, for some of them we are their voice in the system.
Karen, the more I talk to you and learn your story I am humbled and grateful to call you not only a colleague but a friend. I know you have come through some challenges to get where you are today; would you share some of those challenges and how it has shaped you as a First Nations woman and an LPN?
- As I get older I realize that from a traditional stand point (First Nation) I have achieved some goals that a lot of woman my age have not, whether by choice or circumstance. I had a very abusive first marriage and at the end of it in 98 I made a choice, I did not want to be the “typical indian” single Mother ( I have six children) who lived month to month on welfare struggling to survive and giving myself excuses as to why it was okay to be that way. I took an Aboriginal program that was a year of intensive counseling and finding my way to myself as a First Nation woman and how my traditions could help me to achieve the goal that I had to be self-sufficient in caring for my family. That was the first smart choice I made, and once I felt stronger and more confident I pushed myself in the direction of a career that I love. The most important thing I have learned is to make a decision, they may not all be good or right, but it sure saves you from stagnation and a fat butt. The next thing is not letting anyone stop you from getting to your goal, there is always a plan “B”, sometimes I had to go as far a “Z”, but when you reach your goal it’s the sweetest victory. I also realize as part of who I am (traditionally) it is part of my responsibility to help the next generation by setting an example and living a life where family comes first. My daughter is in her 4th year of Nursing, she will continue on (she just told me) to the Nurse Practitioner level. All of my children have made good lives for themselves, and I have 3 who will graduate high school in the next couple of years, my oldest is in her 3 year of criminal justice and wants to be a Detective someday. All of this means to me that I am succeeding in my life, and being an Aboriginal LPN has helped me to do so.
Tell me a little about your experience becoming an LPN during a changing time for LPN curriculum in Alberta.
- I have two sisters who have been long time LPNs in Alberta and started out as RNA’s and have seen how they have evolved into amazing Nurses, when I became an LPN 10 years ago I was excited to be able to include medication administration as part of my scope. Since then I have taken a few extra courses to enhance my license, such a VON training, however my heartbelongs to the Elders (Geriatrics). I find the combination of hands on care and critical thinking avery satisfying career choice and I like seeing the progress of my clients as they move through the process of healing/rehab/death which ever journey they are on.
Who would you consider your most influential person in your career?
- The most influential person in my career, is the same person for my life in general, My Kokum (Grandma) Mary Louise Kootenay, who was the biggest advocate for all children to get an education, she instilled in me the belief that the only way we can heal and move forward as a Nation, is by education, and lifelong learning. She’s past on but I still hear her words of wisdom and love when I’m having a bad day, and it motivates me to get my butt in gear.
Where have you worked? What was your best nursing job?
- My best Nursing job was as the Director of the DAL /Elders lodge Alexander First Nation (My home) truly worked to the full extent of my scope and it gave me so many skills which have benefitted me in my career, I did everything from being the janitor to writing requisitions for tests, I also learned a lot about palliative care and that its one of the most rewarding parts of Nursing, helping a person and there family through the hardest period of life. Was also in charge of the weekend and evening portion of homecare on the reserve.
Karen’ Jobs so far:
- Millar Crossing LTC, learned everything about LTC and Dal units because I started working there when it was brand new and we developed some policies as we went, also taught me how to work fast and think fast, excellent place to develop critical thinking.
- Currently working as a Nursing Supervisor for a home care company, for the past 4 years, where I have used the skills I got along the way to help me do a challenging job that I really enjoy.
I know you have received quite a few awards in your career and that you’re a pretty smart cookie; I think it’s great and you should take this opportunity to brag about them HAHA. Could you share some awards and achievements with us?
- From school I received the Lakeland Region Outstanding Academics for Honors
- National Aboriginal Award for Outstanding Academics in Nursing also for Honors
- Pace Award, it is a Provincial award- given to College and Technical grads for reaching the highest office in their field within 7 years of graduating.
Stephanie has been an LPN since 2008. Stephanie graduated from Norquest College in Edmonton, Alberta. She worked mainly in acute care at the University of Alberta Hospital in their Neurosurgery program before moving to B.C. to teach and in the PN and HCA program there. Currently Stephanie lives back in Edmonton and has transitioned from acute care to home care working as a Nursing Supervisor. She is passionate about the nursing profession and continuing education. She has an information blog for Canadian LPNs and utilizes social media to spread knowledge of nursing. Her blog can be seen at http://forlpns.tumblr.com