LPN vs RN

  1. What is the difference between an LPN and an RN? I am a senior in highschool and in my CPR class today we were talking about it. We were wondering what the differences are, since there are different titles we reckon there must be some difference.
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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   dinkymouse
    There are some differences that are a big deal and some that aren't.
    1. Many hospitals are going to all RN's
    2. Rn's can do IV meds while LPN's can't
    3. In my area RN's make much more per hour than the LPN's
    4. A lot of LPN's are hired in the long term care facilities
    5. Rn's go to school for 2 years for an associates degree and 4 years for a bachelors degree. BSN's generally make a little bit more than associates and have more management classes although in our area they have less actual clinical time than the associates. Waiting lists for the associates degrees at our community colleges are an average of 2 years, although you can get your prerequisite courses out of the way.

    I think that before you decide to become a nurse you should either volunteer in a facility or get your nurses assistant certificate. It won't show you everything nurses can do but it will give you an idea of wether you like healthcare.

    Good luck with your choices of a career.
  4. by   Tweety
    Hi. Below is the definition by the state of Florida. It differs slightly from state to state and is a bit difficult to describe.



    "Practice of professional nursing" means the performance of those acts requiring substantial specialized knowledge, judgment, and nursing skill based upon applied principles of psychological, biological, physical, and social sciences which shall include, but not be limited to:

    1. The observation, assessment, nursing diagnosis, planning, intervention, and evaluation of care; health teaching and counseling of the ill, injured, or infirm; and the promotion of wellness, maintenance of health, and prevention of illness of others.

    2. The administration of medications and treatments as prescribed or authorized by a duly licensed practitioner authorized by the laws of this state to prescribe such medications and treatments.

    3. The supervision and teaching of other personnel in the theory and performance of any of the above acts.

    (b) "Practice of practical nursing" means the performance of selected acts, including the administration of treatments and medications, in the care of the ill, injured, or infirm and the promotion of wellness, maintenance of health, and prevention of illness of others under the direction of a registered nurse, a licensed physician, a licensed osteopathic physician, a licensed podiatric physician, or a licensed dentist.


    The professional nurse and the practical nurse shall be responsible and accountable for making decisions that are based upon the individual's educational preparation and experience in nursing.
  5. by   NurCrystal22
    Quote from megkirpas
    What is the difference between an LPN and an RN? I am a senior in highschool and in my CPR class today we were talking about it. We were wondering what the differences are, since there are different titles we reckon there must be some difference.
    Well here are a couple.

    1) R.N.s generally requires more education than an LPN.
    2) R.N.s can supervise LPNs but not the reverse
    3) R.N.s generally have more responsibility and are able to perform more procedures.
    4) R.N.s are generally higher paid (but it varies depending where you work).

    Now, where I work, there is virtually no difference between LPNs and RNs except the pay scale. There are classes that LPNs can take to learn to do procedures that are generally done by R.N.s and we all report to the clinical coordinator.

    ~Crystal
  6. by   HappyNurse2005
    Here, also, LPN's cannot hang blood.
  7. by   Haunted
    Today I worked with an LVN/LPN and also had student BSN. I am an RN and the BSN will also be an RN. I found that the LVN/LPN had more clinical "hands on " experience in this facility and was able to provide more direct patient care.

    The BSN/RN students are more focused on the administrative aspects of nursing and therefore are less focused on the holistic patient care module.

    It seems a bit slanted that most advanced degree nurses work in the dreaded "administrative" areas such as case management or utilization review, whereas the LVN or RN can insert an IV, a foley catheter, can determine a change in condition faster than poop from a goose.

    I also trust my CNA "certified nurse assistant" to work beside me and support patient care. If you chose to go into health care, I suggest that you start with the basic fundamentals and work your way along.

    I am a 2 year RN and wish I had CNA experience. What a great school you must go to that exposes you to such wonderful career choices.
  8. by   Tweety
    Quote from Haunted
    The BSN/RN students are more focused on the administrative aspects of nursing and therefore are less focused on the holistic patient care module.

    That's not the case with the BSN students that I precept that go to the local university here. They are all about the hands on and getting experience with patient care, the could care less about administrative stuff, they leave that to the experiences nurses. They do take a course in nursing leadership though, but they know when they come out of school 99% of them are going to the bedside, so they want hands-on, not administrative experience. Just want to share my experience, to offer the original poster the idea that nursing and nursing education is a wide open field that can't really be described outside of the context of the area you live and work in.
    Last edit by Tweety on Sep 15, '05
  9. by   RN12345656
    Quote from megkirpas
    What is the difference between an LPN and an RN? I am a senior in highschool and in my CPR class today we were talking about it. We were wondering what the differences are, since there are different titles we reckon there must be some difference.
    Hey Meg!!

    I am glad you are interested in nursing!! We need more nurses--LPNs and RNs!!
    I live and practice in Virginia as a Registered Nurse at Sentara Heart .
    There are differences between RNs and LPNs, but over the last few years the LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) has gained the same responsibilities as the Registered Nurse. Unfortunately, the LPN's pay check does NOT reflect that. Depending on facility and state some RN's can make $5-$20 more an hour!!!
    Depending where you live...you can acquire an LPN license at a VoTech School while you are in high school or complete 18mo program after graduation at a Medical Career School.
    A RN can receive a diploma, associates, or bacchelors (BSN)degree. The diploma and associates RN completes 18mos-2yrs prereq courses, then a 2 yr program. The BSN completes a 4yr degree. (Where I work, we are all paid the same). The BSN is great; unfortunately you spend more time in classroom than clinical (in the hospital).
    About ten years ago, word was going around that LPNs were going to be "phased out". Well that never happened..why would we when we have a national shortage of ALL NURSES
    Generally (depending on state and facility), the LPN works under the RN, can not hang blood, and can not push IV meds and can not work alone with another LPN.
    Now..over the last year where I work, the LPN can now hang blood and push IV meds (after being educated and checked off by the RN).
    I hope you choose Nursing...whichever path you choose (LPN vs RN)..it will be the right one for you!
  10. by   LPN0207
    Quote from Tweety
    That's not the case with the BSN students that I precept that go to the local university here. The are all about the hands on and getting experience with patient care, the could care less about administrative stuff, they leave that to the experiences nurses. Just want to share my experience, to offer the original poster the idea that nursing and nursing education is a wide open field that can't really be described outside of the context of the area you live and work in.

    I whole-heartedly agree! I am a BSN student and its all hand-on work here!
  11. by   HappyNurse2005
    Now..over the last year where I work, the LPN can now hang blood and push IV med
    i also workin virginia, but lpn's cannot hang blood. my unit has one lpn and she just said the other day that she can't hang blood, but she can do everything else to the blood except hook it up and start it.
    iv meds? i don't know, i'll ask her hte next time i see her.
  12. by   RN12345656
    Quote from Tweety
    That's not the case with the BSN students that I precept that go to the local university here. They are all about the hands on and getting experience with patient care, the could care less about administrative stuff, they leave that to the experiences nurses. They do take a course in nursing leadership though, but they know when they come out of school 99% of them are going to the bedside, so they want hands-on, not administrative experience. Just want to share my experience, to offer the original poster the idea that nursing and nursing education is a wide open field that can't really be described outside of the context of the area you live and work in.
    I also precept nurses on my unit...LPNs; BSNs, diploma and associates RNs. I don't know where you work but from my experience I have oriented BSN, RNs from UVA, Old Dominion Univ, Norfolk State Univ, William&Mary, VATech, Medical College of Va, & Radford Univ (just to name a few) and generally they are not as "hands on" as the diploma nurse who spends Mon & Tues in classroom and Wed & Thurs in clinical. Now, there are exceptions; however, the diploma/associates nurse is better prepared in the clinical setting.
  13. by   SE_BSN_RN
    Quote from HappyNurse2005
    i also workin virginia, but lpn's cannot hang blood. my unit has one lpn and she just said the other day that she can't hang blood, but she can do everything else to the blood except hook it up and start it.
    iv meds? i don't know, i'll ask her hte next time i see her.
    In CA you can hang blood but can't push IV meds. In CO, you can IVP pre-mixed antibiotics and change central line dressings with IV training. I'm not sure if you can hang blood.
  14. by   Tweety
    Quote from heartnurseinva
    I also precept nurses on my unit...LPNs; BSNs, diploma and associates RNs. I don't know where you work but from my experience I have oriented BSN, RNs from UVA, Old Dominion Univ, Norfolk State Univ, William&Mary, VATech, Medical College of Va, & Radford Univ (just to name a few) and generally they are not as "hands on" as the diploma nurse who spends Mon & Tues in classroom and Wed & Thurs in clinical. Now, there are exceptions; however, the diploma/associates nurse is better prepared in the clinical setting.

    Hi. We don't have a diploma program nearby. I'm in St. Petersburg and we get LPN students from Pinellas Voc. Tech, ADN students from St. Pete College, and BSN students from U of Southern Florida. Wedensdays are fun because they are all there the same day. The BSN students are part of a unique program of matching an RN to student, not with a group of students and an instructor like the other ones. So actually the BSN student working side-by-side with an RN gives the BSN more exposure clinically than the ADN students who work with one or two patients and their instructor who has nine other students.

    But I can honestly say they all are about patient care, all are eager to "do" things like IVs, dressing changes, etc. The BSN students are not focused on administrative things, they'd rather practice a foley than learn administrative stuff.

    Both the ADN program here and the BSN program here have about the same number of clinical hours, so one does not come out better prepared than the other in my opinion. Their preceptorship is dreadfully long compared to what mine was.

    Anyway, as I posted earlier, it's probably a regional school by school thing.
    Last edit by Tweety on Sep 16, '05

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