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Authors

  1. Kelsey, Loralee R. RN, CGRN

Abstract

This article examines the process our gastroenterology unit has undergone in redesigning and enhancing the role of the licensed practical nurse. Within the department, there had existed some dissatisfaction among the licensed practical nurses regarding their role. The unit norm was to use these nurses as healthcare technicians or associates in the procedure and reprocessing rooms. The licensed practical nurses struggled with the restriction of their role and the unit reexamined the appropriate usage of licensed practical nurses.

 

In this article, a literature review has been provided along with a description of the process of developing orientation tools and training of the licensed practical nurses to new roles. Barriers to staff acceptance has also been highlighted. Enhancement of the licensed practical nurse role has had a positive impact on our unit. This practice change has improved the job satisfaction of the licensed practical nurse as well as provided greater unit flexibility and improved teamwork within the department.

 

Alice, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) with 30 years of experience, joined the gastrointestinal (GI) department 7 years ago. She recently corrected my introduction of her as "the tech" by explaining to our patient that: "I am a licensed nurse who will assist the doctor." This simple statement made me realize that Alice was actually a nurse!! This initiated the exciting and somewhat painful process of reevaluating our use of staff, individual staff skills and competencies, and staffing patterns within our GI unit.