LPN vs RN? Not as clinical as society thinks?

  1. 0
    Well I've been doing alot of research on this. And it appears that the real difference between RNs and LPN/LVNs is not so much in the clinical scope of practice as people think the difference is in the style of education. RNs are educated through the university route.They take college level language classes and English classes and biology and economics and are educated at a very professional level before nursing school. Where as LPNs are evaluated for basic competency in these areas (high school level). RNs are the college educated professionals with a college degree. LPNs are they everyday, more down to earth and more middle class, Nurses, who are highly knowledgeable
    And skilled in there trade, who isn't going to know college level sentence structures, or the whole periodic table, but are very competent and highly knowledgable about real world everyday frontline nursing, with a vo tech diploma. I think RNs are paid more not because they are better Nurses, but because of there more professional non nursing educational background. From my experience as a CNA dealing with both LPNs and RNs, RNs tend to know alot about healthcare facility policy and procedure and are better at than LPN floor nurses do. But like I said when it comes to to Practice and skills, minimal differences.'
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  3. 27 Comments so far...

  4. 7
    Nope.

    First, there are many RNs without a college degree. I obtained my RN through a diploma program. I did go back for my BSN.

    Second, it is my understanding that an LPN cannot assess like an RN. In my facility, the RN is the only one who can do a true assessment.

    In many states LPNs cannot pass meds that RNs can.

    If the difference was minimal the LPNs wouldn't have been in the majority if my RN program. They only got out of 1 nursing class. Many had to take some basic prerequisite classes as well...again I was not in a college based RN program.

    There are more differences than what I listed.

    There is a huge difference between LPN and RN and you clearly do not understand that.
  5. 4
    I have been an LVN for 28 years there is not much in nursing that I have not done. I think the older a nurse/RN is the more they respect the role of the LVN/LPN. The younger nurses/RN some times don't have a clue when it comes to clinical skills. I still remember the RN that could not take an E cylinder a regulator and canula and make them work. Then there was the RN that Thought the oxygen cylinder was empty did not know you had to open the valve. Lets see I remember the BSN weekend supervisor whose calculator went dead and could not calculate a drip rate for an IV the old fashioned way on paper with the times tables and long division. I remember the Diploma Graduate RN that taught our LVN class always said "The LVN knows the how the RN knows the why." I have worked Long Term Care for 28 years now and am proud of my status as an LVN and have no desire what so ever to be a RN.
  6. 7
    I'm an RN who has never set foot on the campus of any university. In fact, I earned an associate of science degree (ASN) from a trade school.

    I was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming an RN. I had already possessed college level writing skills during my days as an LVN because I attended college preparatory courses throughout high school and completed English 101/102 at the local community college.

    My friend earned a bachelor of science degree in public health from a private nonprofit university prior to becoming an LPN. Trust me when I say that she had accrued more than 120 college credits prior to attending a practical nursing program at a local community college.

    Also, many LPNs have studied at universities and earned degrees instead of certificates or diplomas. Have you ever heard of the associate of applied science degree (AAS) in practical nursing? Multiple colleges and universities offer this practical nursing degree program. Click on the links below to read of such programs:

    http://www.msugf.edu/advising_planni...S_fillable.pdf

    M State

    North Dakota State College of Science: Nursing : Practical Nursing

    Practical Nursing - A.A.S. Degree - Dakota County Technical College
    HazelLPN, NamasteNurse, Errin1, and 4 others like this.
  7. 4
    Great post, Commuter! People might want to take a look at how nurses are educated in Canada, as their system is somewhat different from that in the US.

    Downsouthlaff, I just reread your post and honestly, I think you put forth a good faith effort and did not mean to disparage either RNs or LPNs and that saying that somebody is "down to earth and more everyday, but highly knowledgeable" is not a bad thing and I think I know what you were getting at there.

    I think probably the question is unanswerable in a general sense. People themselves are very different. They bring a myriad of unique qualities, prior education post-high school, and cultural experiences with them. They become nurses like the people they are, which is for the most part, a good thing.

    The standards set by the education process are to make sure that whatever type of personality one comes in with, they meet minimum standards for practice under the license they earn.

    For me, I try to take people as they come, no matter what their degree or the letters after their name. This has helped me avoid embarrassment on one hand and expecting a level of expertise based on my notions of what a person with advanced education would display in their technical and interpersonal selves while in the work environment on the other.

    I've felt like a doofus for unconsciously talking down to someone I assumed lacked expertise and been left holding the bag for expecting a higher level from someone based on their degree. Hope that makes a little bit of sense.
    Last edit by nursel56 on Apr 21, '13 : Reason: add stuff
    HazelLPN, LTCNS, Fiona59, and 1 other like this.
  8. 0
    It's actually quite a bit different here in Canada, in terms of education for RN vs. RPN.

    RPNs are educated at a college level for 2 years. The program is more skills-oriented, with less focus on research.

    RNs are educated at a University level for 4 years. RNs receive either a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BScN) or a Bachelor's in Nursing (BN). Prior to 2005, RNs could be educated in colleges and receive a "diploma" so to speak. After 2005, RNs had to attend an accredited University and obtain a Bachelor's Degree. Pre-2005 RNs can bridge their diploma into a Bachelor's Degree, should they wish to pursue their Master's. There are also accelerated RN programs for individuals for have prior degrees and courses completed to use toward their Nursing degree. These programs are 2 years long. Offered by institutions such as University of Toronto.

    RNs focus on broad, theoretical knowledge, coupled with clinical rotations. Rotations in clinical practice cover the continuum of care, focussing on long term care, acute care, specialized areas and community health.

    In a purely economic sense, it's better to be an RN. On Ontario, an RPN caps out their hourly rate a whole 3 dollars below the starting rate for an entry-level RN.

    From a practice standpoint, your options as an RN far exceed that of an RPN. Master's Degree, Nurse Practitioner, Extended Class RN and Advanced Practice Nurse, just to name a few.
  9. 0
    I willl mention however, that most institutions generally will maximize the scope of practice for both RN and RPN.

    Main differences I've seen include:

    - IV push below the drip chamber (RN only)
    - Acute Care Areas such as ED, ICU, CCU (RN only)
    - Higher acuity patients on general care areas (RN only)

    Other than these limitations, the skills in practice are actually quite minimal. I have met a number of RPNs who are incredibly skilled and knowledgeable. It matters on person, not on their degree.
  10. 1
    In some areas, depending on experience, RNs and LVNs are very similar. In others, they are not. I'm in California. LVNs here aren't allowed to give IV meds or even to "assess" a patient without an RN co-signing for them. They are allowed to "collect data". That's not to say that LVNs are not capable of doing these things, but they're not legally allowed to.

    Those two things alone create a huge difference in practice, IMO.
    StephanieSmithCA_LVN likes this.
  11. 3
    It's best if people check their state's scope of practice for the most accurate information on the differences. In California, LVNs can become IV-certified and administer medications other than IVP, including hanging blood products. They do, in practice do assessments independently, in environments like home health and LTC.

    Facility policies may further restrict what LVNs are allowed to do, but there is a difference between that and scope of practice.

    AndyBRN, thanks for explaining the details about nursing education in Canada! I knew there were differences, but not the details.
    Last edit by nursel56 on Apr 23, '13 : Reason: add something
    NCalLVN, HazelLPN, and DoGoodThenGo like this.
  12. 3
    Quote from AndyBRN
    It's actually quite a bit different here in Canada, in terms of education for RN vs. RPN.

    RPNs are educated at a college level for 2 years. The program is more skills-oriented, with less focus on research.

    RNs are educated at a University level for 4 years. RNs receive either a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BScN) or a Bachelor's in Nursing (BN). Prior to 2005, RNs could be educated in colleges and receive a "diploma" so to speak. After 2005, RNs had to attend an accredited University and obtain a Bachelor's Degree. Pre-2005 RNs can bridge their diploma into a Bachelor's Degree, should they wish to pursue their Master's. There are also accelerated RN programs for individuals for have prior degrees and courses completed to use toward their Nursing degree. These programs are 2 years long. Offered by institutions such as University of Toronto.

    RNs focus on broad, theoretical knowledge, coupled with clinical rotations. Rotations in clinical practice cover the continuum of care, focussing on long term care, acute care, specialized areas and community health.

    In a purely economic sense, it's better to be an RN. On Ontario, an RPN caps out their hourly rate a whole 3 dollars below the starting rate for an entry-level RN.

    From a practice standpoint, your options as an RN far exceed that of an RPN. Master's Degree, Nurse Practitioner, Extended Class RN and Advanced Practice Nurse, just to name a few.
    IMHO the path Canada choose was brilliant.

    When RN education and licensure was moved to what is a BSN (four year degree here in the USA), the two year ADN or diploma graduates became "RPNs" but have a much more expanded scope than what many USA states give for LPNs.
    carolinapooh, HazelLPN, and nursel56 like this.


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