The world of nursing involves layers, regulations, and continuing education (a lot of it). Each nurse has a defined scope of practice within them or perhaps encompassing all of those qualities. Licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPNs or LVNs) serve an integral role in the medical setting, yet their scope of practice is more restrained than that of a registered nurse (RN). This is due to the nature of their curriculum in nursing school and therefore mirrored in their prospective incomes.
One common medical setting in which an LPN's scope is more limited than an RN's is administering medicines intravenously (through an IV). The route available for LPNs to broaden their abilities and responsibilities for this situation is to become an LPN with IV certification. An IV certification does not automatically mean a bump in income. Nevertheless, it could make them more competitive in the industry.
Wait, I Thought LPNs Manage IVs?
This is true in many cases. In fact, more states allow LPNs to administer IV therapy as part of their training and licensing. As a nurse, it is important to ensure you are working within your scope of practice that abides by your specific state requirements along with hospital policies. However, in some instances, an LPN may have to take additional training in order to administer and manage IVs, which is the topic discussed in this article.
There is a chart from a nursing educational resource that shows just how much grey area there is on this topic, and so you can see a state-by-state breakdown here. If you are a licensed practical nurse and you know that you need this type of certification, keep on reading to learn more.
What is IV Certification for LPNs/LVNs?
The IV certification for LPNs or LVNs is a post-license credential that LPNs and LVNs can earn by studying for and passing an exam. Once certified, practical nurses can add the IV Therapy designation to their resumes' credentials, making them more attractive to potential employers and able to find opportunities such as IV-certified LPN jobs if that is required in your state or place of work to perform your job duties.
Where Can I Take the IV Therapy Class for LPNs?
Unfortunately, there is no one resource or rule for LPNs and LVNs regarding IV therapy or certification. This is a situation some do while others don't. Some states require an IV therapy curriculum for LPNs in their school programs rendering the certificate unnecessary, while others do not. So, what does this mean for LPNs? Without a doubt, before paying for a study course and test, each LPN or LVN must check with their state board of nursing website. If the information is not readily available on the board of nursing's website, contact them to ask directly.
Several IV certification or IV therapy resources are available online, many offering electronic or virtual opportunities. Here is a quick rundown of two reliable resources found:
- Vascular Access Certification Corporation: The VACC offers certification for the credential of VA-BCTM to LPNs/LVNs and other clinicians. They offer the exam twice yearly (June and December) at locations across the country. The National Commission accredits them for Certifying Agencies, and the certificate remains valid for three years.
- NAPNES Certification in Intravenous Therapy: NAPNES is the National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service acronym. This exam is only offered online and is administered through the Castle Worldwide portal. Their IV certification for LPNs also holds validity for three years, after which renewal is required.
(Reminder, please check with the board of nursing within your state to confirm their acceptance of a program before paying for a course/test package with any provider).
What Can an IV Certified LPN Do?
LPNs work with and do much to maintain IV lines in every state from helping with non-stop beeping pumps to helping patients walk with the poles, they work with and around IVs. It may also be within their scope of practice to flush an IV to prepare for an RN to administer IV medications, yet sometimes this is the limit. IV therapy-certified LPNs may need to demonstrate competency in the following areas:
- Identifying the role of fluid and electrolyte imbalance in homeostasis
- Understanding the pharmacology aspect of IV therapy
- Demonstrating knowledge of the different IV fluids
- Operating IV pumps and equipment
- Calculating the flow rate of infusions
- Identifying potential complications from IV therapy
Where Does an IV-Certified LPN/LVN Work?
Once an LPN/LVN obtains certification for intravenous therapy, they may find new opportunities that will utilize said certification in acute care settings, long-term care facilities, home health, and even other healthcare facilities. While these regulations vary state-to-state, it’s important to research your area and scope of practice within your respected state to find out whether IV certification is right for you.