What is the Difference Between RN and LPN

In the hierarchy of the Nursing staff you may think that a nurse is just a nurse but there are a few things that you may need to know if you are considering a degree as a Registered Nurse or a Licensed Practical Nurse.

Registered Nurse

A Registered Nurse or R.N. is at the top of the nursing staff.  The R.N. has many duties and we will cover a few of them, but the main purpose of the R.N. is to ensure that the patient’s needs are met and that they are getting adequate health care in a safe environment.  The R.N. takes verbal and written orders from the Physician or Physicians, and is the head of the nursing staff.  She is responsible for performing an initial patient assessment and must develop a plan of care for that patient on an individual basis.  There are many variables that may determine which plan of care is more effective for a patient based upon their sex, religious preferences and dietary needs, level of independence, and whether or not they have any support from family or friends.  The R.N. must take all of these things into consideration when making a patient care plan.   She is also responsible for triage which is essentially a way to determine which patient should receive immediate care first based upon their chief complaint and exhibiting symptoms.  A Registered Nurse has completed the 2 year Nursing program and has a minimum of an Associate’s Degree in Nursing.  The R.N. average yearly salary is $48,000-90,000 based upon locale and years of experience.

Licensed Practical Nurse

The Licensed Practical Nurse or L.P.N. can also be known as a Licensed Vocational Nurse or L.V.N. The LVN can fulfill almost any function as that of the R.N. The initial patient assessment must be performed by the R.N. but the L.P.N. will implement a patient assessment as ordered per the Physician as a part of the daily ritual as well.  She also can take verbal and written orders from the Physician and can perform wound care, assist with procedures, start I.V.s, perform blood draws and provide essential patient care.  They may not give I.V. push meds or start PIC lines but are valued members in any field of nursing and perform much of the routine patient care. They help the R.N. to oversee the Certified Nurse Assistants and perform many essential nursing tasks. The L.P.N. is quick to note any changes in the patient and must report it to the R.N. accordingly.  The L.P.N. has completed the one year Nursing Program.  The average yearly salary is $20,000-50,000 based upon locale and level of experience.

Both the L.P.N. and the R.N. are valuable members of the Nursing staff and though there is somewhat of a hierarchy in nursing, they are all required for the team to function effectively and in order to provide safe and effective health care.  There are C.N.As who have a very broad knowledge base and their opinions are just as valuable as that of a nursing professional. An entry level nurse can learn invaluable information from working with a staff of various levels of experience. Nursing is a learning process and we learn best from each other.

Basically, if you are trying to decide whether to pursue a career as an R.N. or a L.P.N. you just have to decide how much time you want to invest, how much responsibility you want and how much of a salary you will be happy with. Whichever career path you choose to follow in nursing it is sure to be a rewarding one.

See Also:

How to work with challenges you will face in this Profession

How does a CNA become an LPN?


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