LVNs care for the sick, injured, convalescent, and disabled under the direction of physicians and registered nurses. Most provide basic bedside care, taking vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration. They also prepare and give injections, monitor catheters, apply dressings, treat bedsores, and give alcohol rubs and massages. To help keep patients comfortable, LVNs assist with bathing, dressing and personal hygiene. Experienced LVNs may supervise nursing assistants and aides.

LVNs are required to pass a licensing exam after completing a practical nursing program that typically lasts a year. Most such programs require a high school diploma.

Job Prospects: Not as bright as other healthcare fields, since many procedures once performed in hospitals are now done in doctor’s offices. Still, openings are expected to match average job opportunities in other non-healthcare fields.
Medical Assistants

Looking for a sure thing? The medical assistant field is expected to be the fastest growing profession through 2012, bar none. While you don’t need any training beyond a high school diploma (since many are trained on the job), those with one or two years of vocational training will enjoy the best prospects.

Medical assistants perform routine administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners running smoothly. Duties vary from office to office, depending on the location and size of the practice and the practitioner’s specialty. In small practices, medical assistants usually are “generalists,” handling both administrative and clinical duties and reporting directly to an office manager, physician, or other health practitioner. Those in large practices tend to specialize in a particular area, under the supervision of department administrators. Medical assistants perform many administrative duties, including answering telephones, greeting patients, updating and filing patients’ medical records, filling out insurance forms, scheduling appointments, arranging for hospital admission and laboratory services, and handling billing, bookkeeping and correspondence.

Job Prospects: Projected to grow much faster than other fields through 2012.

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