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Licensed Practical Nurses ‘crucial’ to healthcare systems

Working as a licensed practical nurse is not only an accessible entry point into the nursing field, but it offers the opportunity to do meaningful, valuable work in a hospital setting. 

Executive Director of Healthcare Simulation Center Dr. Kathleen Kavanagh would know. She’s spent much of her career as a nurse, teaching them and most recently developed Jacksonville University’s first practical nurse program, which launched earlier this year.

LPNs are needed now more than ever, as hospitals around the country face nursing shortages and an aging population, she said. 

The American Nurses Association projects nearly 200,000 nurses will be needed every year until 2030. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 9 percent growth in LPN positions in the next decade. Health systems across the country, like JU’s partner Baptist Health, are constantly recruiting for nursing staff.

LPNs are an effective way to improve patient-to-nurse ratios and improve healthcare quality and safety in health systems. 

“LPNs play a crucial role within the healthcare team,” Dr. Kavanagh said. “They have increasing responsibilities and can work closely in a team model with a registered nurse in higher acuity settings such as the emergency department, critical care and obstetrics.”

JU’s partnership with Baptist Health to train and employ LPNs is one of the first of its kind in the state, said Baptist Health Chief Learning Officer Liz Bruno.

Bruno said LPNs provide direct care to patients in surgical, long-term care and other hospital settings. They play a crucial role in the hospital environment. 

The ideal LPN thrives in a fast-paced, dynamic environment, is empathetic and wants to make a difference in people’s lives. 

“We believe that LPNs are an important asset and addition to the healthcare team,” Bruno said. “LPNs have long been delivering safe, quality care to patients across a variety of settings.”

The LPNs who come out of JU’s yearlong program will have the opportunity to work with Baptist Health upon their licensure. From there, they can take their careers in numerous directions with tuition reimbursement programs that allow them to obtain additional licenses.  

“It is an excellent opportunity for a cost-effective entry point into the field of nursing,” Kavanagh said.