Career Tracks: Practical Nursing

The practical nurse provides bedside care in a variety of medical facilities. Working under the direction of a registered nurse or physician, the practical nurse is prepared to work with patients with commonly occurring health problems which have predictable outcomes.


Practical nurses in this field may be required to:

  • assist the R.N. in assessment, planning care, implementation of care and evaluation of the patient
  • give direct patient care
  • work under supervision of doctors or registered nurses
  • take patients' blood pressure, temperature, pulse and respiration
  • bathe and feed patients
  • change dressings
  • give prescribed medicines and treatments
  • report patient symptoms and condition to supervisors, etc.
  • document patient care
  • communicate with other health care team members

Working Conditions:

Practical nurses in this field commonly experience:

  • work in hospitals, nursing homes, doctors' offices, private homes
  • work in cooperation with others
  • perform multiple duties
  • work under direct supervision
  • work under stress to meet schedule deadlines
  • work in emergency situations/critical, unusual or dangerous situations
  • considerable paperwork required
  • overtime/varied hours/shift changes/nights and weekends

Physical Demands

  • active (much carrying, walking, reaching, standing)
  • lifting (to 100+ lbs.)
  • physical stamina -- be able to remain continuously on task for several hours while standing, moving, lifting and/or bending
  • physical strength -- be able to move and/or lift patients, equipment and heavy supplies
  • adequate hearing -- be able to respond to normal auditory commands without visual contact and to hear (auscultate) blood pressure accurately
  • manual dexterity -- be able to perform skilled tasks similar to threading a needle
  • ambulatory skills -- be able to move quickly in response to patient needs and physicians' orders or to transport patients and/or equipment in tight/crowded spaces
  • adequate height -- be able to reach and operate overhead equipment
  • adequate pace -- be able to respond to instructions and to perform tasks quickly under pressure
  • no existing conditions that might endanger patients (infants to adult) in your care

Characteristics & Temperament

Practical nurses in this field should have:

  • excellent communication skills (written and oral)
  • ability to follow written and verbal directions
  • ability to accurately assess client needs, problems and concerns
  • ability to think quickly and independently
  • posses critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • ability to deal with stress
  • compassion, empathy, caring attitude
  • ability to accept responsibility and accountability for self and others
  • self-discipline/self-motivation/self-regulation
  • flexibility/adaptability - ability to change tasks as needed without loss of composure or efficiency
  • ability to work quickly and with sustained attention
  • ability to within set limits, tolerances or standards
  • attention to detail
  • ability to understand numbers and perform arithmetic functions quickly and accurately
  • ability to work with people/deal with diverse population
  • ability to set up and work with machines/understand how they work and to fix them
  • ability to "catch on" quickly
  • good motor coordination (hand/eye coordination, accurate and swift movements, finger/manual dexterity)
  • accept responsibility for the life long learning process

Employment Outlook

Employment statistics for 2015 - 2017 PTC graduates, who found jobs in this field, are as follows:

  • salary average: $45,030 per year according to the US Department of Labor. You may view the most current Occupational Outlook statistics at:
  • 100% placement rate for the 2015 - 2017 graduates
  • better pay in extended care facilities
  • better pay in larger cities
  • good employment possibilities in PTC's seven-county area; excellent employment possibilities in other areas
  • further training, experience, and/or education may result in advancement to management, head nurse, charge nurse, supervisor of nursing assistants and aides


Recent graduates have found work at:


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