Nursing is a profession that is growing rapidly and offers many pathways into the field. Deciding which type of nursing license to pursue is important. Therefore, you must understand the differences between a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and a Registered Nurse (RN).
In this blog, we’ll discuss the differences between an LPN and an RN and what to consider when choosing which of these paths to take.
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LPN — Licensed Practical Nurse
An LPN is a nurse who has obtained a license to practice practical nursing. This type of license allows the nurse to provide professional care under the supervision of an RN or doctor. LPNs can be found in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and other medical settings, such as private homes.
An LPN has many responsibilities, including taking vital signs, administering medications, and providing basic patient care. Some states also allow an LPN to perform certain medical procedures, such as wound care or catheter insertion.
Education and Licensing Requirements
To become an LPN, you’ll need to complete a state-approved program that includes both classroom and clinical instruction. Once you’ve completed the program, you will be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). Passing this exam is required for licensure in all states.
To maintain licensure, LPNs must complete continuing education courses every year. This way, they can stay current on the latest advances in healthcare.
Pros of Becoming an LPN
There are several benefits to becoming an LPN. For example, the educational requirements are generally shorter than those of RNs, which means it can take less time to become qualified as an LPN. Additionally, some hospitals and other healthcare organizations may prefer hiring LPNs due to their lower cost.
Faster entry into the workforce is also a benefit of becoming an LPN. The length of time it takes to become qualified as an RN varies greatly depending on the type of program you pursue, while the process for becoming an LPN usually takes around 1 year.
Cons of Becoming an LPN
Despite the advantages of becoming an LPN, there are some drawbacks to this type of licensure. For example, the scope of practice for an LPN is limited compared to an RN. This means an RN or doctor must perform certain care and procedures.
Additionally, LPNs may not be eligible for certain promotions or career advancements due to their limited scope of practice. Finally, LPNs typically earn less than RNs, although this varies from state to state.
RN — Registered Nurse
A registered nurse (RN) is a healthcare professional who has obtained licensure to practice nursing. RNs are responsible for providing direct patient care and performing medical procedures such as administering medications or changing wound dressings. They are also trained to assess patient’s needs and develop care plans.
Education and Licensing Requirements
To become an RN, you must complete a state-approved nursing program. Depending on the type of program you pursue, this may include an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing. After graduating from the program, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to obtain licensure.
It is harder to maintain licensure as an RN than an LPN. RNs must complete continuing education courses every two years, and some states require additional training or certifications for certain types of nursing jobs.
Pros of Becoming an RN
The primary benefit of becoming an RN is that they have a wider scope of practice than LPNs. This means they can perform more complex tasks and procedures, such as starting intravenous lines or inserting catheters.
Additionally, RNs typically earn higher salaries than LPNs and are eligible for more promotions and career advancements because of their increased skills and expertise.
Cons of Becoming an RN
The educational requirements for becoming an RN are longer than those for becoming an LPN, which can mean taking on additional student loan debt or sacrificing other opportunities while in school.
Additionally, the process of maintaining licensure as an RN is more complicated and time-consuming than that of an LPN. Finally, the workload for RNs may be more demanding than that of an LPN, as they are responsible for a greater range of tasks and procedures.
Comparing LPNs and RNs
The similarities and differences between LPNs and RNs can help you decide which type of licensure is right for you. Let us discuss some similarities and differences so that you can make an informed decision.
LPNs and RNs must complete a state-approved program, pass the NCLEX exams, and obtain licensure to practice nursing. Both also have a shared goal of providing patient care. Plus, there are overlapping job responsibilities, such as assessing patient needs, administering medications, and providing education to patients.
The major difference between LPNs and RNs is their scope of practice. An RN’s scope of practice is much broader than an LPN’s, which means they can perform more complex tasks and procedures, such as inserting catheters or starting IVs. Additionally, RNs have more career advancement opportunities and typically earn higher salaries than LPNs.
Choosing the Right Path for You
When deciding between LPN and RN licensure, it’s important to consider your educational background, career goals, and financial resources. If you are early in your nursing education or have limited financial resources, becoming an LPN might be the right choice.
However, if you want more responsibilities in patient care or higher salaries, consider pursuing RN licensure. Ultimately, deciding which path will best enable you to reach your career goals is up to you.
No matter which route you choose, becoming a nurse is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling profession that allows you to make a real difference in people’s lives every day.
Tips for Making a Decision
Some tips to help you make a decision include the following:
- Shadowing or interviewing current LPNs and RNs can help you better understand the differences between the roles.
- Research the job prospects, salaries, and opportunities for both LPNs and RNs in your geographic area.
- Talk to a mentor or advisor to receive advice tailored to your situation.
- Weigh the costs and benefits of pursuing each licensure and make your decision accordingly.
Choosing between LPN and RN licensure can be difficult, but with the right research and information, you can make an informed choice. Ultimately, this is a decision only you can make— so take the time to consider your career goals and resources before making a final decision.