LPN vs. RN

  1. 1 I learned in class yesterday the scope of practice of LPN's and it seems to me very limited. Is there a reason one would chose to become an LPN over an RN?

    (i know some do it bc of $ or as a step to RN) but some stay at LPN for 20+ years.

    Clarification please. Id like to understand their use and scope a little bit better

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Visit  Pneumothorax profile page

    About Pneumothorax, BSN, RN, EMT-B

    Pneumothorax has 'Enough' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Critical Care'. From 'SoFla'; Joined Apr '07; Posts: 1,177; Likes: 610.

    38 Comments so far...

  3. Visit  RN/Mom profile page
    2
    Quote from Pneumothorax
    I learned in class yesterday the scope of practice of LPN's and it seems to me very limited. Is there a reason one would chose to become an LPN over an RN?

    (i know some do it bc of $ or as a step to RN) but some stay at LPN for 20+ years.

    Clarification please. Id like to understand their use and scope a little bit better

    Thanks in advance.
    I think it varies with the person. I became an LVN because it was quick, easy, required no pre-req's, and could later be used to obtain RN licensure if I decided I "liked" the field of nursing. I had no healthcare background prior to becoming an LVN and did not really want to invest the 3+ years of schooling required to become an RN if I wasn't sure nursing was for me.

    Once I became an LVN and saw how limited we are, I did regret that I hadn't just finished a few more pre-req's and gone straight to RN (i.e. "real nurse") school. Hindsight is 20/20, though.

    The scope of practice for an LVN or LPN varies considerably with each state, and you'll have to check your state's practical nurse practice act to find out the exact details. Here in CA, like I said, we are very limited. To give a few examples -- we can't assess, we can't touch IV's without special certification (and even then can only give NS), we can't touch central lines at all (unless to change a dressing), we can't take verbal orders, and we can't initiate any patient teaching.
    GrnTea and prettymica like this.
  4. Visit  Pneumothorax profile page
    0
    Quote from lvnmum
    I think it varies with the person. I became an LVN because it was quick, easy, required no pre-req's, and could later be used to obtain RN licensure if I decided I "liked" the field of nursing. I had no healthcare background prior to becoming an LVN and did not really want to invest the 3+ years of schooling required to become an RN if I wasn't sure nursing was for me.

    Once I became an LVN and saw how limited we are, I did regret that I hadn't just finished a few more pre-req's and gone straight to RN (i.e. "real nurse") school. Hindsight is 20/20, though.

    The scope of practice for an LVN or LPN varies considerably with each state, and you'll have to check your state's practical nurse practice act to find out the exact details. Here in CA, like I said, we are very limited. To give a few examples -- we can't assess, we can't touch IV's without special certification (and even then can only give NS), we can't touch central lines at all (unless to change a dressing), we can't take verbal orders, and we can't initiate any patient teaching.
    ya its the same here in IL and something else. and honestly sounds kind of stupid to me. Like I think anyone should be taught how to assess a patient. its not rocket science and it would probably help the RN's out (if they had lpns in their unit / facility) to do the morning assessment so the RN could handle the other stuff that gets piled on during the day...

    same thing with patient teaching. seriously? ..i dont even wanna go there
  5. Visit  NotFlo profile page
    9
    Scope varies wildly by state. I went to LPN school because I'm an idiot who likes to get paid way less for the same work (in the rehab I work in I have the same exact duties and job description as the RNs on the floor) and I enjoy the constant insults regarding RNs being "real nurses" etc.
    ElSea, NsugaBuga, MUUGUZI, and 6 others like this.
  6. Visit  Pneumothorax profile page
    5
    Quote from NotFlo
    Scope varies wildly by state. I went to LPN school because I'm an idiot who likes to get paid way less for the same work (in the rehab I work in I have the same exact duties and job description as the RNs on the floor) and I enjoy the constant insults regarding RNs being "real nurses" etc.
    thats no good

    in my post above yours i wasnt insulting LPN's, i was actually trying to say its stupid that as LPN's you cant do pt teaching or assessments or what have you.
  7. Visit  jazziejp89 profile page
    0
    LPN = Licensed to Play Nurse
    RN = Real Nurse

    I became an LPN really though because my schooling was paid for where as if I went to become an RN I would have had to pay. I am going back for my RN now that my income will more than double. But I was told that LPNs know what to do and RNs know why to do it. As in the LPN does more hands-on and the RN does the paperwork, so to speak. HTH!
  8. Visit  tothepointeLVN profile page
    2
    Quote from lvnmum

    The scope of practice for an LVN or LPN varies considerably with each state, and you'll have to check your state's practical nurse practice act to find out the exact details. Here in CA, like I said, we are very limited. To give a few examples -- we can't assess, we can't touch IV's without special certification (and even then can only give NS), we can't touch central lines at all (unless to change a dressing), we can't take verbal orders, and we can't initiate any patient teaching.
    I'm in CA and some of the above sound like facility restrictions. To clarify. In CA LVN's can assess we just can't do the initial admission assessment. The IV certification allows us to give any of the clear fluids AND to do blood infusions (although no facilities allow us to do legally we can) Verbal orders yes we can, same thing for patient teaching. We just can't do the care plan.

    All of the above are skills that are vital to my job as a field hospice LVN. Our scope of practice is really not that bad considering the differences in the length of our education just be aware most of the restrictions on our scope of practice comes from the facility.


    As for reasons for being an RN. For me it was a taste test into nursing. Also many of my classmates never intend to be RN's. LVN is a nice job for them to have. Not as stressful as the RN role, it has most of its jobs away from the hospital ( though I would prefer to be in the hospital many LVN's prefer the opposite ) I'm trying to think of an analogy that's not going to be misconstrued. Hmm. Ok its like this. Some people prefer to ride ponies instead of horses. They are closer to the ground and it doesn't hurt as much when you fall.
    amber1014 and nursel56 like this.
  9. Visit  Jasel profile page
    0
    I became an LPN so I could find a RN program. They're just easier to get into here if you already an LPN. It was expensive since LPN schools out here where I am tend to be private which means more expensive. I got my LPN in a year but the 2 year nursing program I'm in (unfortunately couldn't bridge) is so much cheaper, with the exception of the books.

    In IL most LPNs don't get hired in hospitals and I've heard the ones who do usually function as CNA's. They're not given much responsibility at all. Sub-acute rehab facilities and nursing homes though I haven't really noticed much of a difference except we can't hang IV's for PICCs, midlines or blood products, dispose of narcotics (this might have been my companies policy actually) and a few other things I don't remember off the bat.
  10. Visit  P_RN profile page
    9
    This whole conversation is so sad to me. People all have different reasons for becoming different levels.
    Some have a limited amount of money. Children to care for and cannot spare 2-4 years out of their children's lives.
    Some have to travel hundreds of miles for one program when another is just a few blocks from home. Some are in a second career, and they only have a few more working years before they plan to retire.

    And let me interject they ALL BECOME NURSES! An LPN/LVN is a NURSE!
    ElSea, MUUGUZI, nursel56, and 6 others like this.
  11. Visit  spectrabrite profile page
    2
    LVP/LPN is a great stepping stone. I was a CNA, now almost done with my LVN and I see it as a great accomplishment and will credit towards ASN or BSN when the time comes
    nursel56 and Wild Irish LPN like this.
  12. Visit  nurse_kirsten profile page
    0
    I'm from Alberta, and while the LPNs and RNs do have different scopes, I find they are still quite similar. I have been on many clinical placements where we were buddied with LPNs even though I'm an RN student.
    Here they are allowed to do complete assessments, teach patients and families, initiate and and maintain IVs, give every type of injection and medication (except they need an RN co-sign before giving narcotics), and, well, almost anything an RN can do.
    The only things (so far) that I've noticed they can't do is be the charge nurse on the floor, spike a blood product, and the narcotics without the co-sign. I've heard that "LPNs do the work, RNs do the paperwork" thing before - NOT true (unless you're a manager or a charge or work in community, where there is always more paperwork) - but they both have the same amount of signing and charting to do no matter what your title is!
    In the end, I do believe we get taught more initially about the rationale behind why we do what we do - but much of the time, I'm going to trust a 10+ year LPN over my brand-new grad ideas. It seems like RNs have more of an opening to get their masters, doctorates, NPs, etc, and they push that here if you plan on becoming an RN. The government is trying to phase out RNs and hire LPNs with the rationale that they're the same thing. Instead, they want to RNs to go into NP roles to relieve the physician shortage here or focus on teaching.
    I personally know a lot of people who were trying to get into the RN programs but didn't make the marks, so they went for LPN or RPN instead. A lot of them were still happy they could do what they wanted, be done sooner, have a stable career, provide for their families, etc. And for others, it was probably a good thing they only spent the 2 years in school for LPN, since they worked for a few months and found out that hated it.
    The only down-fall here, though, is that you get no recognition if you're an LPN and want to become an RN - they make you start the 4 years from scratch!
    I went for RN because I knew it was what I wanted, and I wanted to have the masters and NP options open for me when I finished.
    Last edit by nurse_kirsten on Apr 9, '12 : Reason: add info
  13. Visit  tothepointeLVN profile page
    1
    Ditto and usually the only people who think LPN/LVN's are not real nurses aren't even LPN/LVN's and even then they need to question their motivation in doing so. Most of the clinical instructors at my NS were RN's they used to be LVN's. It was fabulous because you could look at them and think "Wow they used to be where I'm at and now they have a PhD in nursing" One thing they drilled into us to was knowing our scope of practice back and forth since people we constantly telling us what we can't do.

    And as my favorite instructor told me once. Working your way through RN school as an LVN isn't the worst way to make a buck. Also if I hadn't taken time off to be sick I would have graduated LVN-RN bridge in the same time it would have taken me to start from scratch. As it was I needed to take a break but I still had my LVN license to fall back on. A generic nursing student wouldn't have that.
    nursel56 likes this.
  14. Visit  sbkio1 profile page
    3
    I am An LPN here in Florida .WE ARE REAL NURSES.We do a great deal of Pt care.When i worked in a critical care Med/Surg Hospital the ONLY thing i did not do was hang blood!I do assessments and take orders.I have learned a lot from years of experience.Experience is one thing LPN or RN that will make you an educated "real" nurse.I get that RNs sometimes don't view us as REAL nurses...They went to school a lot longer than we did and in most situations their licence is on the line as well if they are supervising LPN's.One thing for sure ...not just everyone makes a good "Nurse" I think with the economy we are faced with these last two years more and more people are getting in to the health care field because that's were the work is! Unfortunately everyone who goes to school to be a nurse is not a good candidate!We are special people!


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