Published with permission from the National League for Nursing
National League for Nursing. (2011, September). Recognizing the Vital Contributions of the Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse.
Consistent with its mission to promote excellence in nursing education to build a strong and diverse nursing workforce to advance the nation’s health, the National League for Nursing recognizes that the licensed practical/vocational nurse (LPN/LVN) is a valuable member of the nursing community and significantly contributes to improving the health of the nation. In fact the 2011 IOM report, “The Future of Nursing,” acknowledges that licensed practical/vocational nurses are especially important to health care delivery because of their contributions to care in long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and community-based settings.
Working toward an inclusive environment and calling for recognition of all nurses who provide culturally sensitive health care in a wide variety of environments is central to the NLN’s core values of caring, integrity, diversity, and excellence. Diversity embraces acceptance and respect. Although one often thinks of diversity at an individual level, it also encompasses institutional and system wide behavior patterns, affirming the value of multiple career pathways. A culture of caring, as a fundamental part of the nursing profession, calls for a commitment to the common good and to act always in the best interests of all members of the nursing community.
The NLN believes that the diversity offered by multiple points of entry into the nursing profession and the variety of progression options available provide an environment for enrichment and professional growth. To produce a more educated and diverse workforce, as called for by the IOM report (2011), it is imperative that nurse educators and clinical practice partners work together to create new models of academic progression that are inclusive of the LPN/LVN, as well as other prelicensure and postlicensure graduates.
Yet full recognition of the LPN/LVN nurse workforce and the seamless career pathways that consider the LPN/LVN trajectory as key to workforce advancement have not always been central to nursing’s preferred future. As the nursing community considers the need for the interprofessional education that is essential to health care reform agendas (IOM, 2011), perhaps, the nursing community should also examine the need for intra-professional partnerships. Nurse educators offering learning opportunities for RNs, LPNs/LVNs, and advanced practice nurses to learn side by side could lead the way. Inclusivity would become a learned culture as newly licensed nurses embark on their professional journey to work collaboratively to advance the nation’s health.