October 23, 2006
The Metamorphosis of the Practical Nurse
It takes a great deal of courage to let go of what is known, familiar, and comfortable. Change is a driving force in everyone. Like a butterfly, individuals in the nursing field may go through similar stages of metamorphosis, which is a process of growth, change, and development. (Wikipedia Foundation, 2006) Nurses have a vast amount of opportunity for growth and change in the healthcare field. "The nursing profession has often been viewed as the target of change rather than a force that proposes, leads, and implements change." (Habel, 2005) Many individuals are choosing to evolve and expand their careers and obtain their bachelor's degree in nursing. While the LPN performs much of the same skills, the student professional nurse must refine his or her skills in clinical judgment, collaboration, leadership, and delegation to effectively care for their patients as a professional nurse. The Role of the LPN
Licensed practical nurses have an enormous responsibility- to their patients and coworkers alike. The LPN may work in a supportive role and can be paired up with Registered Nurses, creating a "team nursing" approach to patient care. Team nursing is a method in which different nursing personnel work together and perform separate functions for the same patients. Each member of the team has a specific role in patient care. (Wikipedia Foundation, 2006) The LPN has several responsibilities which include: monitoring the patient for abnormalities, checking and recording vital signs and measurements, administering medications, and providing basic bedside care. In the hospital setting many LPNs are used in medical/surgical floors which tend to occupy very acute patients. Although the practical nurse has many of the same technical skills as the professional nurse, the practical nurse may choose to advance their career and train to be a professional nurse to achieve a higher level of critical thinking skills, leadership skills, and delegation. Transitioning
Role Transition for the LPN
Although change is necessary for forward movement and growth, it can sometimes cause stress and anxiety for the LPN. The LPN can face many challenges during their transition into the field of professional nursing. Duncan and Depew (2005) examined the stages of work transitioning according to Nicholson and West in relation to the practical nurse's pursuit of his or her professional nursing degree. The four stages of transition include: "preparation, encounter, adjustment, and stabilization." (Duncan & DePew, 2005, p.42) "The preparation stage is mostly concerned with psychological preparedness for the transition that is to occur." (Duncan & DePew, p.42) During this time the student nurse is struggling with personal reflection; the student is deciding if he or she has what it takes to become a professional nurse. This period is dominated by thoughts of self-worth and self-confidence as well as the student nurse questioning if this is the "right" decision. "During the encounter phase, the LPN makes the necessary contacts to enroll in college, makes financial arrangements, and revises his personal schedule to accommodate class and clinical schedules." (Duncan & DePew, p.42) The student nurse could face periods of anxiety and struggle to rearrange their life and may also have difficulty financing their education. "In the adjustment stage, one focuses on and establishes a new set of priorities." (Duncan & DePew, p.42) The student nurse is struggling with role conflict- they still feel like an LPN but they have the basic foundation of education as do RNs. The student nurse may feel torn between the two different roles and must collect their own set of rules. "In the stabilization stage, the LPN takes on the values of the RN role and makes adjustments and minor changes as needed and enjoys the successes of the new role."...