Someone please explain the differences b/w RN, LPN, CNA, etc

  1. Hello all! I am a registered veterinary technician in Georgia. I have a degree in veterinary technology and have sat for a national examination. However, because the field of veterinary mediciane is not well regulated, there are still some states that allow anyone to use the same title as me. I am in the process of gathering as many people in our field to work towards a campaign of sorts to rectify/change the rules and regulations in regards to the support personnel in our field.
    The main reason I have chose to use this board is to get information, supprot etc. form thos eof you who are more regulated, and have been through this same struggle.
    So...can anyone please tell me the difference between all the different levels of being in the nursing profession and thelevel of education and examinations/CE required to maintain such titles?
    Any help would be a great help to those of us in my field.
    Thank you,
    Melanie R. Parham, RVT
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   NRSKarenRN
  4. by   Dixielee
    I have not read the above links, so I am sure it gives much more info and probably more accurate, but just from personal experience and observation, the differences are as follows:

    RN, must graduate from a 2 year AD, 3 year diploma, or 4 year BSN program and pass the national board exam. The exam is the same for any of the graduates, so technically all RN's are roughly equal. CEU's for maintaining licenses varies from state to state. Some require no further training, classes, etc., while others require varying numbers of hours. As a travel nurse I have to have licenses in several states. I have found that generally if I maintain my ACLS, PALS, TNCC, etc certifications that are required for my job, I have plenty of hours to relicense anywhere.

    LPN/LVN, graduate from a 1 year technical school and must pass a national board exam. Both RN and LPN's are licensed not just "certificate" holders. In many settings RN's and LPN's do equivilent work. Many settings will not allow LPN's to give certain IV meds and drips, but others are the same as RN. There are differences in ability to "move up" the management ladder, but that too is subject to individual nurses and facilities. CEU's? I don't know but would imagine it is similar to RN's, and vary state to state.

    CNA's, certified nursing assistants, take courses offered by hospitals, business colleges and tech schools. Most courses are about 6 weeks. In most cases they can not give meds, altho now there are advanced classes and some are able to pass meds in long term care facilities. They work under the supervision of an RN or LPN and help with daily tasks such as bathing, ambulating, feeding, and many other procedures that may be done. This too varies with level of ability and facility.

    There are many others in the "nursing" realm. There are nurse techs who many times are nursing students and are allowed a little more freedom than a CNA and can do other procedures, again based of facility and even individual departments. There are medical assistants who can work in offices and do a little bit of everything from drawing blood, running some in house labs, assist the physician with procedures, etc. Many doctors offices do not have nurses at all, but medical office assistants who have generally had training at tech schools. These are not to be confused with med techs who work in laboratories. I am not familiar with their level of credentialling, but know some are degree programs from universities while some are tech training.

    I am sure this is not an exhaustive list but it is all my tired brain can think of at present.
    Last edit by Dixielee on Jan 2, '05
  5. by   angelbsn
    Sorry, but I fail to understand how knowing the difference between RN, LPN, & CNA are relevant to vetinary medicine?
  6. by   zenman
    Quote from angelbsn
    Sorry, but I fail to understand how knowing the difference between RN, LPN, & CNA are relevant to vetinary medicine?
    Because sometimes people can act like animals!
  7. by   angelbsn
    tia/brain damage/blonde roots all contributed to me screwing up this original response
    Last edit by angelbsn on Jan 2, '05
  8. by   angelbsn
    Well duh...I'm in ED, shoulda known the answer to that question before I asked. Chalk it up to 12 long hours and a blonde moment. Thanks, Zenman
  9. by   zenman
    Quote from angelbsn
    Well duh...I'm in ED, shoulda known the answer to that question before I asked. Chalk it up to 12 long hours and a blonde moment. Thanks, Zenman
    No problem; my wife is a blonde!
  10. by   mrparhamrvt
    Quote from angelbsn
    Sorry, but I fail to understand how knowing the difference between RN, LPN, & CNA are relevant to vetinary medicine?
    Because we are trying to regulate our profession. Some of us actually have an education! While this may be a surprise to many, there are also many people with little to no experience out there monitoring anestesia, giving IV meds, calculating meds, performing dental extractions, and even performing very simple surgeries with very little more than a few months on the job training past high school. Personally, I find this appalling & would never use a veterinary clinic that did such. But I know this because I am one of the few REGISTERED, LICENSED & CERTIFIED Technicians in the field. We ONLY have somewhere around 500 in the state of Georgia. Knowing the difference between the different levels of education and scope of practice for those of you in the human field may allow us to better set up our own system. Please understand also that while we may carry the name "technician", we often perform many more aspects than our name gives us credit for. We not only know many laboratory skills; but also nursing, radiology, dentistry, surgical assisting, etc when we graduate from our schools. Some of us also have gone on to receive our bachelors ( I am working on mine) and others have gone on to specialize through mentorship/OJT/examinations in areas such as dentistry, ECC, anesthesia, behaviour, and equine medicine. There are many many reasons why I ask these questions, but I believe I am wasting my time since many people in human medicine look down their noses at those of us working in veterinary medicine. Your reply was a perfect example of the attitude we encounter on a dialy basis from nurses who come through the doors where we work.
  11. by   Sheba817
    RN, LPN, CNA, CNA difference is MONEY since all of these titles have more and more responsibiity. I know many CNAs who could probably pass the RN N-CLEX exam and do quite well.
  12. by   Antikigirl
    I hear you on this one! I was interested in vet medicine before I became a nurse and I was totally dumbfounded by the lack of titles yet all the responsibility! I was thinking the same thing you were...well if one does this, vs one that doesn't...how does someone know or pay a decent salary??? Why are they all "techs" and not broken down more into speciality fields..there are tons of specalites in vet med! (I wanted to go avian big time..we need some good avian vets around here!!!!).

    It is akin to calling all nurses simply nurses..no RN no LPN no CNA and no speciality certification titles either! Very hard to get a grasp on what to go into, or which would accent what skill you have or are assumed to have in order to gain employement! You just get to wade through things and find out what you need, get it, and hope your resume looks really good, and hope they don't have you trying to do something you don't know much about (and just as hard for employers too!).

    There has been an interesting trend here in my state, they are hiring LPN's an RN's! Yep...I guess our licenses here don't distinguish human vs other animals..LOL! But boy it is hard to do a nursing diagnoses for "Lack of Knowledge" or "Powerlessness"..LOL!!! What r/t being a dog aeb long tail, floppy ears, and a deep bark and the inablity to read pamplets on their condition?!?!? LOL!!!!

    No but I like it...I have been looking into it seriously because that may be the transitional break I have been looking for . I guess they are grandfathering us over if we choose so that we can help cover aspects of the vet field that are becoming so much like human med, because they do pretty much everything they do for humans on pets now (I just had a friend take their cat for surgery/radiation/chemo!!! Talk about CHA CHING!).

    The field is booming, has been for a while and it is getting very exciting, yet very complicated like the poster has stated! They really do need more definition to medics in this field! Good luck to you...that is an excellent and worthy goal!!!!!!!
  13. by   Fiona59
    My animal physican always had one graduate technician and a staff member who was waiting to train. Sort of on the job training while waiting for a place at the technical college.

    I respect anyone who works with those that can't describe their symptoms. One tail wag for yes??

    My vet let me assist when it was time to send our boy over the rainbow bridge. I shaved his leg and put the tourniquet on. I listened to his last heartbeat.

    My respect and admiration goes out to anyone who can do that on a regular basis.

    Do you have a professional association for RVT's? Maybe you should become active in it?
  14. by   mrparhamrvt
    Quote from TriageRN_34
    The field is booming, has been for a while and it is getting very exciting, yet very complicated like the poster has stated! They really do need more definition to medics in this field! Good luck to you...that is an excellent and worthy goal!!!!!!!
    Well I am not sure what state you are in, but I would check on the grandfathering in. The AVMA has formally stated that NOBODY will be allowed to do this after 2010. My state specifically states that someone muct have so many years experience working in veterinary medicine plus signed/notarized recommendations from their current DVM stating such. And some states will not allow it even now, regardless. Yet, there are other states that do not even care if you have any sort of education and they are allowing anybody to take this test, regardless of experience etc. All they need is some DVM willing to sign a paper stating they think they should take the test. Funny, it is easier to let a bunch of uneducated personnel take a national test than to pay for those of us who took the time to go to school to acheive the level of education to do so properly. I wish I had honestly gone into human medicine at times. However, for me I would have to start over pretty much.While I have learned all aspects of medicine, it is completely based in the field of veterinary medicine and while we may accept you with open arms, human medicine will NOT accept those of us trained in veterinary medicine. I should have taken the step into human medicine...I would be making close to 3 times my current salary with the same level of education. The DVMs refuse to pay graduates what they should because they can hire some kid after school or some person with only hands on experience to perform the same jobs for 7-8 dollars an hour. Then in order to even obtain a job in our field we often have to take a lower wage than we can afford to live off of. This is why I am so big on standardization and regulation!

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