The Future of Vocational Nursing


In response to a question on Linked In regarding the future of vocational nursing (LPNs and LVNs), Keith wrote the following today in response. Do you agree or disagree?

The future of vocational nursing is very hard to predict at the moment. While there is a move towards making a Bachelors Degree the common denominator among all nurses (and some facilities are no longer hiring vocational nurses at all), the aging of the population coupled with healthcare reform does not bode well for such changes at this time.

Vocational nurses are a key component of the “backbone” of the healthcare system, and they make up a large proportion of the nurses who are employed by long term, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. The system at large will be shooting itself in the foot if it begins to lock out vocational nurses when we need more and more nurses to care for the population as it ages and more and more Americans are insured.

If the powers that be want to make a Bachelors Degree the norm for all nurses, then the government and the private sector will need to pony up money and resources to put a degree within the reach of many nurses who are just making ends meet.

I wouldn’t worry about this potential for a change in the requirements for now, but the voices calling for vocational nurses to move towards a Bachelors Degree will continue to grow. Whether anything ever actually happens and the change actually comes about remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, I encourage vocational nurses who are interested in pursuing a higher degree to do so of they can afford the time, energy and money that that pursuit requires.