LPNs: Myths and Misconceptions (Part II) LPNs: Myths and Misconceptions (Part II) | allnurses

LPNs: Myths and Misconceptions (Part II)

  1. 16

    Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) play a vital role in the delivery of healthcare in the United States and other countries. However, numerous people continue to perpetuate some unpleasant falsehoods regarding LPNs. This is the second article of a four-part essay that will expose the biggest myths and misconceptions that plague today's LPN workforce.

    LPNs: Myths and Misconceptions (Part II)

    Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) have impacted healthcare in an integral manner in various countries for many years. In fact, the role of the LPN has existed for several generations. However, LPNs are still largely misunderstood in the sphere of nursing, and this is evidenced by the inaccurate statements that other nurses and members of the public make on a regular basis.

    Numerous individuals have contributed to the uncontrolled spread of inaccurate information about LPNs. The most pitiful fact is that some of these rumor-spreaders have never even worked one day in the nursing profession. A handful of the most persistent myths regarding LPNs were discussed in part one of this four-part essay. A few more pesky myths are listed below.

    Myth #4: LPNs cannot supervise RNs.

    I have personally worked in settings where the unit manager, assistant director of nursing, or staffing director is an LPN. Guess what? This practice is perfectly legal. LPNs are legally allowed to supervise registered nurses (RNs) in an administrative capacity. However, LPNs are not permitted to supervise RNs in a clinical capacity.

    Myth #5 LPNs cannot engage in critical thinking.

    All nurses are capable of critical thinking and sound judgment, and this includes LPNs and RNs. Some LPNs cannot critically think, and some can. Some RNs cannot critically think, and some can. Therefore, you cannot simply stereotype an entire group of nurses and say "There's a difference in their thinking," without having met all nurses within that rank.

    Almost anyone in society can be taught to critically think. Critical thinking applies not only to nursing, but to EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of life. Everyone must utilize critical thinking if he or she wants to make it through life. When I was a factory worker, I had to use critical thinking and proper judgment in order to stay alive because I worked atop a high-speed three-story paper machine that reached temperatures of 450 degrees. Parents must employ critical thinking, parental skills, and good judgment when raising children.

    Myth #6: LPNs cannot work in hospitals.

    Hospital employment is highly dependent on location. I live in the second most populous state in the union, and LPNs/LVNs are used heavily in the small-town hospitals and rural critical access hospitals around here. Hospital employment is on the decline for LPNs in major cities during this sluggish economic situation, because facilities are taking advantage of the surplus of newly graduated BSN-educated RNs who are so desperate for employment that they'll work for virtually any wage in many metropolitan areas. For example, my current workplace was paying $23 hourly to a brand-new RN with a BSN degree last year. However, the LPN with 24 years of experience was earning $25 per hour.

    The goal of this four-part essay is to debunk and/or challenge common misconceptions about LPNs. Please correct the next person who makes ignorant statements about LPNs. We can all assume some responsibility for erasing the myths, falsehoods, and insults about the LPN's role in nursing.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 9, '15
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  2. Visit TheCommuter profile page

    About TheCommuter, BSN, RN Senior Moderator

    TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

    TheCommuter has '10' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych'. From 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'; 35 Years Old; Joined Feb '05; Posts: 36,142; Likes: 64,362.

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    33 Comments

  3. Visit  CherylRNBSN profile page
    #1 5
    SPOT ON re: critical thinking skills.

    I was an LPN, and I can guarantee you a good LPN beats a bad RN any day!
  4. Visit  TheCommuter profile page
    #2 5
    Yes. I was an LVN for 4 years prior to becoming an RN. It amazes me that so many people in nursing actually believe that RNs have the market cornered on critical thinking. In reality, anyone can be taught to think critically.
  5. Visit  CherylRNBSN profile page
    #3 0
    Hi, Commuter

    I accidentally hit "reply", b/c I was responding to what you said. But I really just wanted to leave a comment. Sorry!

    But if you "reply", it apparently doesn't post comment? It goes directly to you? (b/c post never showed up). Correct? (still figuring out board!)

    Thanks...excuse my confusion!
  6. Visit  mesa1979 profile page
    #4 0
    Totally agree!
  7. Visit  TheCommuter profile page
    #5 0
    Quote from CherylRNBSN
    Hi, Commuter

    I accidentally hit "reply", b/c I was responding to what you said. But I really just wanted to leave a comment. Sorry!

    But if you "reply", it apparently doesn't post comment? It goes directly to you? (b/c post never showed up). Correct? (still figuring out board!)

    Thanks...excuse my confusion!
    If you hit 'reply,' you can type your comment in the white box that appears and click on 'post comment.'

    If you hit 'quote,' you can respond to whichever post you wish to directly quote.
  8. Visit  tothepointeLVN profile page
    #6 10
    Quote from TheCommuter

    Myth number five: LPNs cannot engage in critical thinking.


    All nurses are capable of critical thinking and sound judgment, and this includes LPNs and RNs. Some LPNs cannot critically think, and some can. Some RNs cannot critically think, and some can. Therefore, you cannot simply stereotype an entire group of nurses and say "There's a difference in their thinking," without having met all nurses within that rank.
    Seriously people what do you think happens in LVN/LPN school? That they take our brains out and put them in jars and we don't get them back until we are RN's? We can still if we care to attempt to learn all that is learnable. As I just said on another thread: Scope of practice limits only what we may or may not do it does not limit how we think.

    There's two types of nurses that seem to poo poo LPN/LPNs. Nurses that aren't even nurses or nurses that are barely nurses.
  9. Visit  sunny3811 profile page
    #7 2
    Thank you for writing this thread. I eagerly await the next part.

    I am so glad you brought up the part about critical thinking skills. I have read some threads on here about LPNs not having critical thinking skills. I say bull hockey to that. LPNs do assessments and notify MDs.

    I just get tired of hearing " you are just an LPN, you don't know" It is so frustrating!!

    Thank you Commuter for writing these articles!
  10. Visit  TheCommuter profile page
    #8 0
    Quote from tothepointeLVN
    There's two types of nurses that seem to poo poo LPN/LPNs. Nurses that aren't even nurses or nurses that are barely nurses.
    Also, many nurses in the academic world (read: nurse educators) seem to perpetuate the myth that LPNs cannot critically think.

    When I was attending an RN completion program, the director of the nursing program used to always tell us, "Stop thinking like LPNs! Start thinking like RNs!"
  11. Visit  GitanoRN profile page
    #9 1
    Quote from thecommuter
    when i was attending an rn completion program, the director of the nursing program used to always tell us, "stop thinking like lpns! start thinking like rns!"
    interesting concept
  12. Visit  ClearBlueOctoberSky profile page
    #10 7
    In my facility, on the Unit I work on, I am the Charge Nurse. I am expected to stand on my own two feet and make my own decisions, and I am expected to critically think my way through the problems that I may have. Yes, I assess, whoops, data collect, my patients when their condition changes or when they fall, I write nursing orders for treatments, I am expected to write acute care plans and notify my NM when a patient's care plan needs to be updated. I am the one that calls the doctor for orders and then implements those orders. My NM and DON are there to help if I need it, and to sign off on my work, however, I do everything our RN's do, but I am "just a" LPN. To my patients, my patient's families, and to the rest of the staff at my facility I am a Nurse. And when I am asked what I do, I am learning to say, I am a Nurse, not I am a LPN.

    Thanks, Commuter, for your article series.
  13. Visit  tothepointeLVN profile page
    #11 7
    Quote from TheCommuter
    Also, many nurses in the academic world (read: nurse educators) seem to perpetuate the myth that LPNs cannot critically think.

    When I was attending an RN completion program, the director of the nursing program used to always tell us, "Stop thinking like LPNs! Start thinking like RNs!"
    Obviously they hadn't given you your brain in a jar back.

    Though maybe this is a little known thing but LPN/LVN's are taught by RN's since at least in my state you need at least a BSN to teach at an LVN school though I guess its possible to have a BSN and NOT be an RN but all of my instructors were RN's. They taught us to nurse they way they themselves practice nursing. How do you teach someone to think less critically? IDK.

    LVN's do have limitations absolutely but the limitation isn't my ability to think. Thats a person specific thing.
  14. Visit  nursel56 profile page
    #12 2
    I've always found the "LPNs can't assess, they merely collect data" line pretty amusing, because things like heart and breath sounds require that you assess and identify them. The only way another nurse could verify something like that would be to listen him or herself - which defeats the purpose of delegation as an efficient strategy for the division of labor and time-saving.

    My LVN instructors had all been diploma nurses. Some had their BSN as well, but my favorite instructor had just the diploma. She actually seemed apologetic about it when she introduced herself. That's why I have a special place in my heart for diploma schools and graduates.

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