LPN vs. RN
What’s the difference between a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Registered Nurse (RN)?
Good question, especially if you want to get into the nursing field. As it turns out, there is a considerable difference between the two career paths, mostly in the amount of education required and job duties worked. Below, we’ll talk through both of these occupations and the differences between LPN vs. RN.
Nursing education can vary
First and foremost, the educational requirements to earn your nursing or practical nursing degrees are different, as well, as, the length it takes to acquire them.
Nursing programs have a variety of options when it comes to degree outcomes. You can obtain an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), associate of applied science degree (AAS), bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN), or a master’s in nursing degree (MSN). Depending on the degree outcome, it can take two years or more to earn a nursing degree.
Practical nursing programs can earn either a certification/diploma, or associate degree. This outcome is again dependent on the level of education, but certifications can be obtained in as few as 12 months, while a degree can take longer.
Whether you choose nursing or practical nursing, both outcomes requires RNs or LPNs to sit in the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for licensure.
What do nurses do?
Both RN and LPN share the amazing ability to help others in need. There are subtle differences in the day-to-day job duties that both perform.
Registered nurses work with physicians to provide care to patients and coordinate the care provided by nurses under them. Primary responsibilities include: help provide treatment for various medical conditions, administer medication, monitor patient’s vitals, and help educate patients and families on post-hospital treatments. BSNs and MSNs typically have additional responsibilities including managerial roles.
Practical nurses work under the direction of registered nurses and physicians. Common job responsibilities include: recording patient’s history, administering medication prescribed by the doctor, taking patient’s vitals, and managing IVs. Some LPNs can also be tasked with supervising Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).
Nursing career outlook
No matter which career path you choose, both RNs and LPNs having promising outlooks.
Thanks to a number of factors including aging baby boomers and an increase emphasis on preventative care, registered nursing jobs are expected to grow at 16 percent from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The same factors also contribute to the job growth for practical nursing jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPN jobs are expected to grow at 16 percent from 2014-2024. Both of these job growth rates are faster than average.
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