Most Important Skills Needed to Be an LPN

portrait of Marisa Upson
Marisa Upson
Read Full Bio


Marisa Upson has 10 years of professional writing experience, specializing in higher education trends, business, hospitality, and health and wellness. On BestColleges, she writes articles to help students make informed education and career decisions....
Updated on May 13, 2022
Reviewed by
portrait of Elizabeth M. Clarke, MSN, FNP, RN, MSSW
Elizabeth M. Clarke, MSN, FNP, RN, MSSW
Read Full Bio


Elizabeth Clarke is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. Her experience spans emergency departments, cardiac units, pediatric urgent care, and occupational health settings. She earned her bachelor of science in nursing and master's in nursing...
Learn more about our editorial process is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Take our quiz and we'll do the homework for you! Compare your school matches and apply to your top choice today.

  • LPNs may provide the first initial contact with patients and their healthcare team.
  • These professionals record a patient's vital signs and medical history and perform daily care.
  • Success in this field requires compassion, organization, and quick decision-making.

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) provide basic nursing care to patients in hospitals, nursing care facilities, schools, daycares, correctional facilities, and private practices. They may monitor a patient's health, listen to their concerns, and administer basic treatments while under the supervision of a doctor or registered nurse.

As baby boomers age and chronic conditions continue to rise, there will be a continued demand for LPNs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 9% job growth for LPNs from 2020 and 2030, amounting to about 60,700 job openings each year.

To succeed in a nursing career requires a combination of hard and soft skills. Read on to see what it takes to become an exceptional LPN.

Top Skills for an LPN

Clinical Skills

LPNs gain hands-on clinical experience during their educational program, preparing them to care for patients with confidence. A few of these skills include taking and recording vital signs, applying and changing dressings, and assisting patients with personal hygiene. In some states, LPNs can also give medication and start intravenous drips.

Computer Knowledge

As computers continue to play an increasing role in delivering patient care and recording medical history, LPNs will need to be comfortable working with digital programs. Often, LPNs are the first healthcare specialist a patient meets; the LPN often will need to record their medical history, current medications, blood pressure, and other vital signs with the help of a computer.

Organization Skills

LPNs care for many patients at one time, requiring detailed record-keeping and effective time management skills. They need to care for each patient in an organized manner, ensuring no detail goes undone. Emergencies and changing shifts require them to multitask and prioritize without losing their concentration or forgetting to record vital signs or change a dressing.

Soft Skills for an LPN

Soft skills relate to how you work and interact with patients and colleagues. Prospective LPNs should work on strengthening soft skills such as empathy, compassion, and collaboration.

Decision-Making Skills

Successful LPNs must make careful yet quick decisions while caring for patients. Emergency and daily care require LPNs to perform effectively under pressure while maintaining a clear, focused direction. This requires decision-making skills that stem from a deep knowledge of the clinical areas needed for LPN work.

Communication Skills

The ability to communicate effectively with patients and co-workers is another critical soft skill for LPNs. These professionals work closely with patients, their family members, and other members of the healthcare team.

In addition to easing patient and family fears and keeping patients informed, they also need to relay necessary information to registered nurses to help them determine patient treatment plans.

Interpersonal Skills

LPNs spend their days in constant contact with other people, whether patients or fellow staff members. Additionally, many of these patients may feel scared, helpless, embarrassed, or confused. LPNs need to be able to provide patient and understanding support, even under pressure.

Developing strong interpersonal skills requires empathy, clear communication, and a sense of responsibility.

Teamwork Skills

LPNs collaborate with doctors, registered nurses, and other healthcare providers. LPNs working in hospitals often work under the supervision of an RN. They work together, caring for patients and sharing important information. Successful LPNs are dependable team members that accurately track patient records and help other healthcare staff carry out their jobs effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions About LPN Skills

What makes a good LPN?

Chevron Down

A good LPN should have empathy, understanding, and compassion for the patients they work with. An LPN also needs to make quick decisions, prioritize patient care, and remain organized despite emergencies or unscheduled disruptions. Effective communication and strong organizational skills can help them during emergencies and busy shifts.

What are the duties of an LPN?

Chevron Down

LPNs care for patients under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. They record a patient's medical history, current medications, and vital signs. Their scope of practice varies by state, with some LPNs giving medications, collecting samples for testing, and starting intravenous drips.

They also care for patients by cleaning and bandaging wounds, inserting catheters, monitoring food intake, and assisting with daily needs such as dressing and bathing.

How can I become an LPN?

Chevron Down

LPNs must complete an approved practical nursing program, which usually takes about one year. However, some students may complete accelerated programs in as little as seven months. These programs provide hands-on experience through skills-based labs and rotating clinical hours.

After graduating with a diploma in practical nursing, you may sit for the National Council Licensing Examination for Practical Nurses exam (NCLEX-PN). Prospective LPNs must pass the exam to gain licensure and work as an LPN. Some states also require evidence of English language proficiency and a clean background check to become a licensed LPN.

Featured Image: The Good Brigade / DigitalVision / Getty Images is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare Your School Options

View the most relevant schools for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to finding your college home.