When thinking about a nursing career, you may wonder what is the difference between the Licensed practical Nurse and the Registered Nursing careers and job descriptions, duties and responsibilities? Which career path is the best choice for me?
While the wage, duties, responsibilities etc. may be quite different from state to state, there are some general things that are consistent no matter where you may be employed. Knowing and understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision about what type of nursing training to pursue.
Licensed practical nurses must have specialized education just like registered nurses do, and LPNs usually attend LPN nursing schools for about a year as opposed to 2 or 4 years for an RN or BSN and up to 5 years to attain a MSN degree.
During this year of education, students learn things like how to observe a patient, how to help patients with basic skills like feeding and dressing themselves, how to chart information about patients, and how to prepare and give certain medications. Most LPN programs focus on hand-on care of patients. Besides the training program, all types of nurses must pass certification exams, though the training program should do an excellent job of preparing you for them.
Once working, the LPN job responsibilities and duties may be quite different than those of the registered nurse, (in most situations). Though it varies in each work location and state, the LPN nurse is trained to work with less critical patients and is sometimes restricted from giving certain medications without an RN present. It is certainly true that licensed practical nurses are still highly-trained and do all of the typical day-to-day nursing tasks but the focus is more on the hands on bedside nursing tasks. In many cases the licensed practical nurse is even trained to supervise nursing assistants.
The wage of an LPN is significantly more than that of a nursing assistant because of their more specialized training and responsibilities. Because of the increasing demand for good, skilled nurses, the benefits for all nurses are similar. LPN versus RN benefits usually include holiday pay and vacation time as well as more choices in work shifts as the nurse increases in seniority. In fact, in many hospitals and care facilities, nurses are paid a shift differential for working on weekends that can mean a large increase in income.
In answer to the question posed in the title, the difference between registered nursing and licensed practical nursing career comes down to the following fundamental issues.
The reality is that the question, what is the difference between LPN and RN, comes down to a lot less time spent in school before starting your career and some minor differences in the responsibilities. For most people thinking about a nursing career, knowing that you can get working in just over a year can make the difference when selecting a path to becoming a health care professional.