Difference Between LPN And RN

female nurse workingIn spite of the fact that the two designations sound similar, LPN standing for licensed practical nurse and RN standing for registered nurse, the truth is that these two medical professions are radically different. The difference between LPN and RN is seen on many different level: not only in terms of education and job duties and requirements, but also in terms of job growth, outlook and median yearly salary.

Having said that, it must be mentioned that while a LPN can pursue a lucrative career with about 12 months of nursing education and a certificate, becoming a registered nurse is considerably more difficult, as the latter must have at least a two-year degree or a three-year diploma in order to gain their licensure and the right to practice legally in the state where they reside. Having said that, here you will find a deeper insight into the differences between these two medical professions.

Differences In Terms Of Job Duties And Responsibilities

Before moving on to detailing the most notable differences between the duties of a licensed practical nurse and those of a registered nurse, it must be said that while in some states it is the duty of the State’s Board of Nursing to regulate the licensure of both LPNs and RNs, in other states there are two separate boards: one for registered nurses and one for licensed practical nurses, given the fact that RNs have more complex tasks than LPNs.

Having said that, some of the most demanding duties of a registered nurse include giving IV chemotherapy to patients, adjusting the medication dose of each patient depending on how the receiver responds to the medical treatment and on the evolution of his or her condition, performing a variety of invasive procedures, assisting the surgeon in the OR and such. On the other hand, the duties and responsibilities of the licensed practical nurse are limited, as these health care providers often limit to taking the blood pressure, the pulse and the temperature of the patient, and performing various administrative tasks.

In many clinical settings, the licensed practical nurse works closely with the registered nurse and even reports his or her findings to the latter: while it is the duty of the LPN to monitor the symptoms of the patient, it is the responsibility of the RN to make the necessary treatment adjustments, which means that these two medical professionals have different levels of responsibility, and this can be reflected in their payment: while the median yearly salary of a licensed practical nurse is of around $41,000, that of a registered nurse revolves around the sum of $65,000 a year, although the figures can vary greatly depending on the state, the employer as well as the background experience of each health care provider.

Working Environment And Advancement Opportunities

female nurseThe registered nurse has more opportunities to advance and to pursue a lucrative and blossoming career in the health care industry, as opposed to the licensed practical nurse whose opportunities are somewhat limited. For instance, a registered nurse who wants to make the best of his or her career can enroll in a Master’s of Science in Nursing degree program and become a practical nurse, which is more rewarding both from a professional and from a financial standpoint.

In addition to this, licensed practical nurse tend to work in long term care facilities, as opposed to registered nurses who tend to work in short-term care facilities, which means that they are also more likely to have administrative responsibilities. At the same time, the options for specializations are limited for licensed practical nurses, especially for LPNs who work for state hospitals, while the registered nurses have plenty of specialization opportunities at their disposal.

As mentioned above, there is also a significant difference in terms of job growth and demand, as registered nurses tend to be more sought-after these days, mainly because of the fact that they are allowed to perform more medical duties than the licensed practical nurses. Either way, both LPNs and RNs can pursue a very lucrative career, as nursing is one of the medical fields with a very high demand for skilled and highly trained nursing professionals. The skills and the legally allowable duties of the registered nurses make them considerably more desired, both in the private and the public clinical settings, and this can be seen in the number of registered nurses with active licenses: there are approximately three times more RNs than LPNs in the United States of America.

Difference In Terms Of Educational Path And Licensure Requirements

In addition to the salary variations, it must be said that licensed practical nurses and registered nurses often take different career paths when pursuing their nursing license: although both health care providers need an active and valid license in order to work legally in all 50 states of the United States of America. In other words, it is safe to say that becoming a licensed practical nurse is often easier and faster than becoming a registered nurse, in terms of the difficulty of the subject matter, the overall cost of the training program as well as the length of the training program. In most cases, people can become LPNs within as little as one year, while becoming a RN can take students as much as three years.

Even though the educational and the career paths are very different for these two health care providers, the licensing requirements are virtually the same. That being said, practical nurses must sit for the NCLEX-PN examination in order to get their licensure, while the registered nurses must sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. Both NCLEX examinations assess the decision making skills as well as the general nursing experience and knowledge of the applicants. Nonetheless, the eligibility requirements are the same, as both professionals must graduate from an accredited training program in their medical field, must provide proof of graduation and must submit to a screening process that is based on a fingerprint background check.