Practical nursing, as all health care professions, has its own knowledge base and unique scope of practice. When an LPN license is a prerequisite to function in a role, there is an understanding the person is required to make care decisions using all elements of the nursing process while working within the professional scope of practice of the LPN. When an individual works in a role where LPN licensure is not necessary, there is no opportunity for that individual to use their LPN knowledge, the nursing process or practice within the professional scope of the LPN. This increases the risk for competence drift.
In the past, LPNs may have been given credit for the ‘related experience’ of working in a different role, such as a medical technician or paramedic. However, after the expansion of the educational requirements of the practical nursing program (2008) and the mandatory education requirements of all LPNs (2013), only hours accumulated in the LPN scope of practice may be counted toward the 1000 hour practice requirement.