LPN’s in Teaching Roles
One role of a nurse is as an educator. Registered nurses usually provide patient teaching as is involves assessing readiness to learn, comprehension of concepts, and evaluation of the patient, which might lead to a change in the plan of care. However, LPNs provide invaluable support when it comes to patient education.
As stated earlier, RNs often serve as patient educators. In many models, RNs perform initial teaching, and LPNs provide ongoing education and reinforcement of information. LPNs may also teach from established written teaching material or guidelines. Additionally, LPNs report back to RNs if patients do not understand the learning concepts or if there is resistance to learning.
One example of LPNs in a teaching role is with wound care, and in this example, it takes place in ambulatory care. If a patient presents with a new wound, the RN assesses the wound, determines the necessary dressings and overall care of the wound, and the patient’s ability to provide self-care. The RN would teach the initial wound care as well as home care for the patient, document the assessment of the wound and treatment plan. When the patient returns for a recheck, the LPN may remove old dressings, document what the wound looks like, and bring the RN to visualize the wound to ensure current treatment is effective. Then the LPN may place the dressings as directed by the RN, explaining the mechanisms of action regarding wound healing, and reinforcing prior wound care teaching.
Another example is with vaccines. LPNs administer vaccines routinely and educate patients about the rationale for vaccines, the diseases they protect against, and possible side effects.
Aside from patient teaching, LPNs may precept new employees and students in a variety of care settings. Teaching new LPNs is best done by LPNs, as they know their roles and scope of practice. LPNs may also teach nurses, aides or medical assistants. Community teaching is also an option, for example, in schools.
It is important, however, for LPNs to familiarize themselves with state regulations in which they live, as well as any organizational policies that dictate if/ how patient teaching is provided, and by whom.