Vocational Nursing: History And Their Role

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History of Vocational Nursing and How You See Your Role as a Vocational Nurse

The nursing profession, including practical nursing, has experienced a history of transformation, emerging as a highly-respected profession. Two major changes that occurred in practical nursing are a gradual increase in the required formal knowledge base and a requirement for licensing to practice practical/vocational nursing. Unlike the historically untrained or poorly trained practical nurse, who had unlimited and unsupervised freedom to practice, the present practical nurse is now trained in an educational program, consisting of theory, clinical simulation, and clinical hours.

History of Vocational Nursing Over the Past Several Hundred Years

The art of nursing arose in primitive times when one person simply cared for another who is sick. As family groups banded together into communities, certain individuals extended themselves to care for the ill, the helpless, and older adults. During this period, nursing consisted of comforting, caring for basic needs, and using herbal medicines. The Christian St. Paul introduced a deaconess named Phoebe, a practical nurse, to Rome. She was the first visiting nurse. Nursing becomes a recognized vocation during the Crusades (AD 100-1200) as hospitals were built to care for a large number of pilgrims needing health care. In the mid – 1800s Florence Nightingale, an English woman felt a calling by God to become a nurse. During the Crimean war, Florence Nightingale asked the Secretory of war to allow her to train women to care for sick and wounded. By cleaning upwards and improving ventilation, sanitation, and nutrition, her group of 38 nurses lowered the death rate from 60% to 1%. Nursing was sadly lacking during the Civil war in America. The Union government finally appointed Dorothea Dix, a social worker, to organize women volunteers to provide nursing care for soldiers. Clara Barton took volunteers into the field hospitals to care for soldiers of both armies. (Porter, 2015).

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Over time, the schooling becomes more formal and the hospital-based training period lengthened from 6 months to 3years. In the United States, the student-staffed the hospital and worked without pay. In 1892, the New York Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) started the first official school for practical nursing, the Ballard School, which offered a 3-months course. In the 20th century, nurses moved out into the community. World war II created a great demand for nurses in military hospitals, and training programs had to be increased. Nurses continue to serve in times of military crisis, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, and American military nurses currently provide essential care to service members and local civilians whenever and wherever our armed services are deployed.

Role of Vocational Nurses

LVNs must be aware of the content of the Nurse Practice Act of the state in which they are employed. The LVNs role and scope of practice are found in this law, and the law differs from state to state. Generally, the role of LVN include the care for patients within the scope of state’s NPA, regardless of the site of employment, provides care in basic and complex patient situations under the supervision of an RN, physician, podiatrists, or. Dentists, provide safe patient care, serves as a patient advocate, teach patients and communicates effectively, while functioning as a collaborative member of the health care team. As an LVN I would be having an opportunity to work in a wide range of medical settings, including nursing care facilities, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and home healthcare services.

Future for Vocational Nurses

Employment of LPNs is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the baby-boomer population ages, the overall need for healthcare services is expected to increase. LPNs will be needed in residential care facilities and in-home health environments to care for older patients. Job prospects should be favorable for LPNs who are willing to work in rural and medically underserved areas. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018)


As a final note, nursing has played a significant role in all wars, contributing positively to the development of the nursing profession. It may be interesting to compare present practical/vocational nursing tasks with those that would have been expected to perform in 1887. Practical/vocational nursing has indeed come a long way. The nursing profession, including practical nursing, has experienced a history of transformation, emerging as a highly-respected profession.


  1. Porter, J. (2015). Role of the Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse in the School Setting: Position Statement. Retrieved from https://www.nasn.org/advocacy/professional-practice-documents/position-statements/ps- role-LPN
  2. Flavin, B. (2019). Why LPNs Are Still in Demand (And What It Means for You). Retrieved from https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/nursing/blog/why-lpns-are-in-demand/
  3. Malvik, C. (2019). What Does an LPN Do? A Closer Look at These Versatile Caregivers. Retrieved from https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/nursing/blog/what- does-an-lpn- do/


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