Differentiating the LPN and RN

RN 1
Differentiating the LPN and RN scope
The nursing profession is very popular despite being demanding. All nursing roles are
crucial, but there is a definite hierarchy which is one of the necessity as there are various
nursing professions that require varying education degrees and experience. The positions are
also somehow segmented with the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNAs), Licensed Practical
nurses and registered nurses (RNs) performing different functions in medical facilities. In the
United States, there are about three million RNs and about a hundred thousand LPNs. Nursing
was long considered as a women’s profession but has gradually gained respect and pay which
has along the way attracted men. Today, those interested in getting to this field are presented
with a decision on whether to aim for RN status or LPN certification.
There exist some similarities and some differences between LPNs and RNs. Some of
the similarities are that both the registered nurses and the Licenced practical nurses are trained
to offer quality care for the patients who require medical assistance. The Nursing essentials for
both the registered nurses and the licensed practical nurses are the same (nursejournal.org,
2018). Both the RNs and the LPNs are highly employable in various work settings that include
medical offices nursing homes, offices among others. Because RNs and LPNs’ work brings
them directly and in constant contact with people, both of these nurses have to be approachable,
sociable and show genuine desire in helping the patients.
While there are various similarities between the registered nurses and the licensed
practical nurses, there are huge differences. These differences are based on education,
curriculum, the scope of practice, workplace, duties and responsibilities, earning potential, job
outlook among others. The difference between the LPNs and RNs can be well explained based
on their specific duties and responsibilities. The duties and the responsibilities of registered
nurses differ from those of licensed practical nurses in some ways. One of the main things that
differentiate the registered nurses and the Licenced practical nurses is the type of license they
have. LPNs mainly focuses on performing fundamental responsibilities like noting some
critical signs, blood pressure and heartbeat of the patient. LPNs do not work by themselves;
rather, they are always supervised by the registered nurses or doctors. LPNs may be restricted
from making vital decisions that are associated with the treatment and the care of the patients.
Licensed practical nurses typically prepare and help the patients with feeding, preparing and
giving the patients injections, dispense certain medication and drugs, collecting samples,
inserting catheters, dressing and bathing among others (Besner, 2005). LPNs, however, cannot
carry out some tasks such as administering intravenous narcotics or restricted medicines.
On the other hand, registered nurses can perform more complex tasks like handling
medications and take medical tests as well as handle patients reports. Registered nurses also
perform diagnostic tests and analyses results, as well as give direction to patients on how to
manage their illnesses after treatment. The RNs also coordinates the medical staff including
assigning some duties to LPNs and certified nurse assistants among others (Oelke, 2008). They
also help the doctors in examining and treating the patients. They have more responsibilities
compared to LPNs where they can also assume managerial and administrative roles. RNs can
carry out various tasks without any supervision. Since the RNs have a wide range of
responsibilities and have longer education compared to the LPNs, they have bigger salaries.
The education levels between an LPN and an RN are also different. For one to become
an LPN, they are required to possess a GED or a high school diploma in order to pursue LPN
education program. Those aspiring to be an LPN have to finish 9-18 months of program
thereafter and then pas a state licensing assessment paper. On the other hand, those who admire
being RNs are required to possess an associate or bachelor degree from a nursing school which
is well recognized. In order to acquire RN license, they are also required to clear NCLEX -RN
exam. LPN program coursework is not as lengthy and the topics covered are not in depth as in
The scope of practice of Licenced practical nurses is limited. They work under the
supervision of the registered nurses (Doran, 2008). LPNs can only become registered nurses
when they gain education and gain some experience. RNs who holds master degree has more
career prospects as they can end up becoming nurse educators, nurse administrators’, nurse
specialists or nurse practitioners. Besides, RNs holding doctorate degrees can make careers in
education, administration and practice and policy.
In conclusion, while both the RNs and LPNs are extremely vital in the field of nursing,
their roles may greatly vary based on the amount of training and education they receive. A
licensed practical nurse has to pass the NCLEX-PN exam which generally prepares them for
the roles that focus on rehabilitation and long-term patient care. Unlike the registered nurses,
licensed practical nurses perform basic care for the patients. For instance, while LPNs may be
allowed to collect data like important signs including blood glucose levels and pain, they are
not allowed to access a patient. Under licensure, the licensed practical nurses are not allowed
to interpret data. Since the license of the LPNs limits the scope of their practice, the LPNs
cannot carry out some tasks, unlike the registered nurses. They work under the supervision of
registered nurses or physicians. The RNs oversees all the working LPNs and the whole facility.
They are required to keep the physicians and the registered nurses informed.
Besner, J., Doran, D., McGillis Hall, L., Giovannetti, P., Girard, F., Hill, W., ... & Watson, L.
(2005). A systematic approach to maximizing nursing scopes of practice. Ottawa, ON:
Canadian Health Services Research Foundation.
nursejournal.org. (2018, February 04). LPN vs RN + Roles & Responsibilities. Retrieved
from Nurse Journal: https://nursejournal.org/practical-nursing/lpn-vs-rn-roles/
White, D., Oelke, N. D., Besner, J., Doran, D., Hall, L. M., & Giovannetti, P. (2008). The nursing
scope of practice: Descriptions and challenges. NURSING LEADERSHIP-ACADEMY OF
Oelke, N. D., White, D., Besner, J., Doran, D., Hall, L. M., & Giovannetti, P. (2008). Nursing
workforce utilization: An examination of facilitators and barriers on the scope of
, 21(1), 58.

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