What Is an LVN?

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Reviewed by Jeanne Kal Senior Manager, B2C Content, IntelyCare
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Often in healthcare, as in other professions, jobs go by more than one name. Sometimes the difference depends on the geographical area. One instance of a job that’s called two different things in the nursing world is licensed professional nurse (LPN) and licensed vocational nurse (LVN). So what is an LVN and what does an LVN do? Let’s find out.

What Is an LVN?

LVN stands for licensed vocational nurse. These professionals are also known as licensed practical nurses (LPNs). The job duties of an LVN vs. LPN are the same. The only key difference is the name. Texas and California use the term LVN, while other states use the term LPN.

What Does an LVN Do?

LVNs (and LPNs) work under the direction of doctors and registered nurses (RNs). They provide patients with basic bedside care such as primary nursing care, documenting the performance of prescribed medical treatments, and so on.

Typical LVN duties include:

  • Providing medical support to doctors, RNs, and patients.
  • Interviewing patients and gather information about their medical histories.
  • Providing essential care to patients such as helping them with eating, toileting, and bathing.
  • Taking a patient’s vital signs, including pulse, blood pressure, and temperature.
  • Reviewing medical records and record new information.
  • Giving patients prescribed medications.
  • Drawing blood and forwarding it to the lab.
  • Setting up ventilators and other breathing treatments.
  • Stocking the supply room.

To know more about what you might do in this role, check out this sample LVN job description. As a licensed vocational nurse, you must be genuinely sympathetic to your patient’s concerns. Most of your patients experience an array of emotions while they are in your care, such as depression, anger, and anxiety.

So if you have the attention to detail, patience, and the mental fortitude to care for patients during those moments, then you’re a good fit for an LVN job.

Where Can LVNs Work?

While LVNs can work in hospitals and private physician practices, most LVNs work in post-acute care settings such as:

  • Assisted living facilities
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s care facilities
  • Hospice care facilities
  • Urgent care clinics
  • Ambulatory surgery centers
  • Home health care facilities
  • Community care facilities for the elderly

Curious about where else you could work? Check out all the LVN jobs on IntelyCare to see who’s hiring.

How to Become an LVN

What is an LVN required to complete before being legally permitted to work? Good question. To be licensed and registered as an LPN/LVN, you must:

  • Be at least 17 years of age
  • Have a high school degree or the equivalent
  • Be of good moral character
  • Register and complete an approved nursing education program
  • Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN)
  • Apply for an LPN license in your state

Difference Between LVN and RN

The training and requirements of an LVN vs. RN vary greatly. An LVN program generally takes just one year to complete; an RN has more education than an LVN. RNs must earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Depending on which RN degree you pursue, you’ll spend 18 months to 4 years in school. Additionally, RNs must have a passing grade on the NCLEX-RN exam.

While certain duties of an LVN vs. RN can and do overlap, an RN has more independence and often supervises an LVN. RNs may dispense medicine to patients, perform diagnostic tests, document a patient’s medical history, coordinate care plans, and more. LVNs provide patients with more basic medical care, but can also assist an RN in their duties.


A certified nursing assistant (CNA) and an LVN also have some overlap in duties, but the training for a CNA can be completed in as little as 4 to 12 weeks. CNAs provide direct care to patients by helping them performing activities of daily living (ADL) such as eating, getting dressed, and bathing. They also help keep a patient’s room clean and tidy.

What Is an LVN Expected to Earn?

The median annual LVN pay is $48,070 (about $23 per hour). Note that your wages can be affected by your years of experience, location, facility, and certifications.

What Are the Benefits of Licensed Vocational Nursing?

Comparatively Low Barrier to Entry

Most licensed vocational nurses complete their education and can prepare for a career within 12 and 20 months, while other nursing education programs require more than twice that amount of time to finish.

Opportunity to Further Your Education

Once you earn your LVN certification and work for a period of time, you can study to become a RN. Furthering your education allows you to grow your expertise in a focus area of nursing and increase your income.

Rewarding Work

As an LVN, you’ll make a genuine difference in people’s lives. LVNs are a source of comfort that makes them feel comfortable, adding to their overall well-being.

Flexible Work Hours

LVNs are required 24/7 and in high demand, with many shifts for the taking. You can set your work hours to suit your schedule. This is ideal for good work/life balance.

What Is an LVN Offered by IntelyCare? Find Out!

At IntelyCare, we know you’ve got a busy schedule to manage. We make it easier for your to choose your shifts, plus we offer benefits and support whenever you need us. Learn more about joining IntelyCare today.