What do RNs do that LPNs can't?

  1. I'm not quite sure if I am posting this on the right board or not but here it goes. I am almost finished my pre-reqs for the ADN program but the waiting list is insane. So I wanted to get my LPN and then transition to the RN. Here's my question- In a hospital setting, what exactly can an RN do that an LPN is not licensed to do? Sorry if this has been discussed before. I would appreciate any info just out of curiosity. Thank you!
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  2. 36 Comments

  3. by   AimeeJo RN
    Just to give you a quick answer I would say that Lpns cannot do IV push meds and administration of blood products. I also think that we are not allowed to pronounce death. It may vary from state to state I am not saying this is how it is everywhere. Hope this helps some.
  4. by   nurz2be
    Quote from TiggerBelly
    I'm not quite sure if I am posting this on the right board or not but here it goes. I am almost finished my pre-reqs for the ADN program but the waiting list is insane. So I wanted to get my LPN and then transition to the RN. Here's my question- In a hospital setting, what exactly can an RN do that an LPN is not licensed to do? Sorry if this has been discussed before. I would appreciate any info just out of curiosity. Thank you!

    Honestly in my area, eastern coast of Florida, LPN's are almost exclusively used in home health and LTC (long term care). Hospitals do not, in most cases, hire LPN's. Hospitals here use RN's, Nurse Techs, and CNA's for daily patient care. So, in my area, you most likely as an LPN would not be working in a hospital position. I agree with previous poster about what RN's physically do LPN's cannot. Others will get into the critical thinking as well.
  5. by   Murse901
    Quote from TiggerBelly
    I'm not quite sure if I am posting this on the right board or not but here it goes. I am almost finished my pre-reqs for the ADN program but the waiting list is insane. So I wanted to get my LPN and then transition to the RN. Here's my question- In a hospital setting, what exactly can an RN do that an LPN is not licensed to do? Sorry if this has been discussed before. I would appreciate any info just out of curiosity. Thank you!
    Hang blood products, some IV medications (antineoplastics, experimental, some of the hardcore ABT's, etc), admission assessments except in LTC, some aspects of management. There actually isn't a whole lot that RN's do that LPN's can't.

    Having said that, I would strongly suggest avoiding the LPN route if possible. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't bother with LPN school. For 1 solid year of LPN school, I'm only getting 6 transfer credits in my ADN program (the equivalent of 1/2 a semester).

    In many states, you can sit for PN boards after 1 year of RN school. Also, in many areas, you can get on at a hospital as a "Nurse Extern" after 1 year of RN school, basically getting paid to learn.

    Don't get me wrong. LPN school wasn't a complete waste of time. It will make RN school slightly easier. But, like I said, I would have skipped LPN school if I'd known then what I know now.
  6. by   Carebear77
    My instructor told us that the only thing that LPNs can't do are start IV's or administer blood products. We will be pushing meds IV in med-surge 2. Maybe every state is different.
    But like you, the wait to do the ADN was to long so I'm doing LPN and as soon as I'm done (in August) I will be going on for my RN.
    Good luck to you.
  7. by   Lorie P.
    What Rn's can do that LPN's can not do depends on the state and the facility one works for.
  8. by   swee2000
    I am an LPN and I work in a hospital on a Med-Surg unit. Here is a list of most of the things I cannot do and only an RN can:

    Iinitial assessments, regardless of where the patient came from(PACU, ER, direct admit, or another unit); chart on care plans; document the narrative note; med reconcilliations; initial teaching; verbally reviewing w/patient their discharge instructions(however I can enter the instructions into the computer for the RN to review & then give to the patient); call in prescriptions to pharmacies; hang the 1st dose of IVPB antibiotics; administer any IV push meds, including those that are sometimes run like an IVPB on a pump(most common example I see is Pepcid); access or flush a capped PICC or central line or medport; remove/take out a PICC or central line; anything with PCAs(except take vitals) or med lines(insulin drip, cardizem drip, etc); hang TPN or blood(although I can be 2nd verifier for blood and monitor vital signs); anything to do with chemo; take orders from doctors or even call them; give any PRN meds w/o RN approval; anything dealing with consents; give report to other depts or units regarding patients going for tests, labs, OR, another unit, etc; give updates to families; declare time of death.


    As others have posted already, what an LPN can or can't do depends on three main things: 1)the state they are licensed in; 2) the type of facility they are working at(hospital, LTC, clinic, etc); and 3)the policy & procedures of the facility. One LTC facility might allow an LPN to do something that another LTC facility would not. One hospital might allow LPNs to do things that another hospital would not. The most common example is LTC facilities allow LPNs to do things that a majority of hospitals do not. Etc, etc, etc.
  9. by   L19P7N9
    I have been in nursing 28 years and it has changed a lot. But as a LPN I have found myself in situations that I had to learn things and once I did learn them and show I knew what I was doing it was okay. I started IVs in the ER because I had med students that had no idea how to do it. I am good at it now and do it when needed. LPNs cannot give IV push meds and cannot pronounce death. Also RNs get paid more. I say go all the way!!
  10. by   luv4nursing
    I will have to disagree with the statement above about not getting your LPN first. It really must depend on the school you go to because Im about to graduate a LPN bridge program in a few weeks and it was only 1 year. 1 year LPN + 1 year RN = 2 years. Generic RN program= 2 years. Like you are thinking of doing, I got my LPN first because of the waiting list and I graduated LPN school before I even would have been accepted into the generic RN program So It was faster for me, plus I could work and earn a lot more money than I was making working at Starbucks (the job I had during LPN school). It was the best choice i ever made. I had to get in the workforce and make a decent living ASAP. If I wouldve been in the generic program for 2 years on my previous salary there is no way I wouldve made it. I barely made it on my current salary which was double what I made before. Good luck in whatever u do!
  11. by   kcochrane
    I ditto the "it depends on the facility and the state". In our facility we cannot start IVs, take phone orders or do assements. But in the hospitals you can.
    I don't regret taking the LPN route, it got me into the workforce quicker and gave the experience I need to be a confident RN. I am currently working on my RN on a part-time basis. Some colleges around here are starting to give more credit for the LPNs when they come in. I was able to test out of one semester of nursing classes. If I had worked in acute, I could have tested out of two semesters.
    Good luck!
  12. by   General E. Speaking, RN
    make more money (in Texas).
  13. by   Rexie68
    I live in PA and have been an LPN for 18 years. I'm now in school for my RN and have to say, just skip the LPN. Years ago it was worth it, but now, our market is flooded with LPNs and they're being used as CNA's. Even though they've been trained to pass meds, start IV's, draw blood, take orders, etc.....there's just no place for them to work as a nurse. I'm very lucky that I work in a LTC facility that appreciates their LPN's. I work in administration and do MDS'. At our facility, LPN's can't pronounce death or do IV push meds. Everything else is pretty much the same for RNs and LPNs...except the pay, of course!!
  14. by   Loisanderson
    All of the things you listed that the LPN can't do was the incentive that pushed me to go back for my RN years ago. I had moved to Wisconsin from another state and found out that all LPN's were nothing but glorified nursing assistants. Many things I was not permitted to do were every day tasks for me in my home state.

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