Acute care facilities in BC have faced staffing difficulties for several years. With a growing, ageing population, hospitals and other urgent care facilities have found it difficult to meet demands. To remedy this problem, the health care system reduced the number of Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) in acute care facilities in the 1980s, replacing them with Registered Nurses (RNs). The idea was that RNs could perform more medical duties autonomously, thus reducing Doctors’ workloads.
More recently however, the approach has changed, with case studies suggesting that employing LPNs and health care assistants to perform basic daily tasks helps free up RNs and doctors to do more specialized work.
For students pursuing both LPN and HCA qualifications, this means that more of their future career opportunities may lie in acute care, and they need to be aware of the unique challenges of these environments.
1. LPNs & Health Care Assistants Help With Practical Acute Care Tasks
In an acute care ward, LPNs and HCAs can help to ease the workload of the rest of the medical team by taking responsibility for practical tasks that are vital to the day-to-day running of the facility, such as changing towels and bed linens, restocking medical supplies, and taking inventory. These are often time consuming activities, and taking them off the hands of Doctors and RNs greatly improves efficiency.
2. Performing Routine Medical Duties In Acute Care When You Become A LPN
To become a LPN, you need to be trained in basic anatomy, pharmacology, and first aid. This means that LPNs are able to perform some basic medical duties, such as administering injections, monitoring catheters, and administering medications, under the supervision of a doctor or RN. While HCAs are also trained in basic CPR, they do not perform any medical tasks, and their usual role centers around personal care.
3. Providing Bedside Care As An LPN Or Pro with Health Care Assistant Training
LPNs will also perform much of a patient’s basic bedside care in an acute care facility. This might include checking vital signs, changing dressings, and applying alcohol rubs and massages, as well as collecting samples and performing routine laboratory tests. Both LPNs and HCAs will assist in bathing, dressing and personal hygiene, and will usually be in charge of feeding patients too. LPN programs and health care assistant training both include FoodSafe certificates.
4. The Role Of LPNs & HCAs In Monitoring Acute Care Patients Can Be Crucial
As LPNs and HCAs have a lot of contact with patients, they are trained to keep an eye out for any signs of deterioration and worsening of symptoms, and notify the other members of the medical team of any changes. This can be crucial in allowing the staff to respond early to any problems.
5. LPN & HCA Acute Health Care Careers Are All About Teamwork
Acute care facilities which use LPNs and HCAs expect them to provide support and help in whatever way possible. As a result, individuals in these roles can find themselves with a diverse and ever-changing set of duties. This may include liaising with patients’ families to advise them about care, administration and filing work, or other tasks as needed. The most important thing is that they do whatever they can to help their team overcome the grueling workload that comes with acute care.
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