LPNs make RNs seem more impressive?

  1. 2
    Does the existence of LPN’s make being a RN more impressive?

    This question has nothing to do with the competence of individual RNs or LPNs. I do not intend to offend LPNs by posing this question (isn’t that what everyone says?). For what it’s worth, I am a RN who used to be a LPN and I have a high regard for anyone who is good at his or her job. I realize a title has no bearing on competence.

    I’m struggling to find the words to communicate my thoughts, so I apologize in advance if this doesn’t make sense. What I am attempting to ask is something along the lines of: If all nurses were RN’s, and the LPN role was completely eliminated, would that eventually lead to less prestige for the “RN”(prestige probably isn’t the right word). I will use SNFs as an example to help clarify my question. In some skilled nursing facilities, most of the floor nurses are LPNs (I realize this is changing in some areas). When a RN works in LPN-dominated facilities as a floor nurse, they are sometimes admired (secretly or overtly) by other staff members who strive to become a LPN/RN or who have placed the title of RN on a pedestal (sorry that sentence sounds so pretentious). I have observed that RNs (the title, not the individual) seem to be more prized outside of hospital settings where LPNs are more prevalent.

    An “all RN world” would likely result in the expansion of the pseudo-LPN/non-licensed roles (which is already happening to some degree). Would this be beneficial, neutral, or detrimental to the standing of RNs?

    We all know that there is a push by professional nursing organizations to eliminate LPNs/ADNs in an effort to improve the professional image of nursing and redefine what it means to be a nurse. We are also all aware of the obstacles that make this option impractical in certain areas.

    What do you think of this compromise?:

    1. Entry-level RN: BSN+ only

    2. Merge the existing ADN/Diploma and LPN programs to an 18 month “Practical Nursing Program”(a few PN programs are currently 18-24 months) . This option would preserve the LPN role while simultaneously combining and eliminating entry-level ADN programs. In other words, just combine LPN and ADN programs. Add or subtract six months to the existing LPN and ADN programs to transition to the new 18 month PN programs (similar to the Canadian model). Hospitals could continue to use LPNs with extended training to prevent nursing shortages in rural/underserved areas.

    I regret that this option implies registered nursing collectively has low self-esteem and needs another nursing role beneath it to elevate (or preserve?) its professional standing. That being said, if there were no other nursing roles below RNs, would RNs end up at the bottom of the licensed totem pole? Or would non-licensed support staff seep into new segments of healthcare and become the new de-facto LPNs, making this a moot point?

    In essence, if we are all beautiful, is anyone actually beautiful, or does the word lose its meaning? I’m sure nothing posted above is an original idea and it has probably been beat to death already. I just want to see fresh perspectives of what nurses think of this concept. I doubt any significant changes will take place in my life time, so this is more of a theoretical inquiry. I apologize if my post comes across as pretentious. Please be nice.
    bristolrover and Davey Do like this.
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  4. 36 Comments so far...

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    Canadian PN programs are 2-2.5 years.

    I don't really follow the rest of your premise about it making RNs "less impressive".
    Emergent, imintrouble, and Fiona59 like this.
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    There are some facilities that will not and do not hire ADN's, diploma nurses or LPN's. However, there are facilities that will hire an ADN or a diploma nurse, but not an LPN. So by eliminating an ADN or diploma nurse, and make it one PN role, there will be a whole lot of nurses that will not be employed.

    An ADN and dipolma nurses are RN's, which in itself is a coveted position. When they have alternate NCLEX exams for diploma nurses, ADN's and BSN's it would make more sense to hire exclusively.

    In my experience, RN's of any degree/diploma have more leeway in a variety of settings than that of an LPN, unfortunetely. With that being said, to have LPN's finish out a diploma program, and until such time as the NCLEX differs, start hiring them and save the BSN's for management.
    NRSLPN and Heathermaizey like this.
  7. 4
    If I were an ADN or diploma RN, they would only be able to "merge" or "demote" me to PN status over my dead freaking body.

    IF LPNs are done away with, something will have to fill the vacuum. Is the glut of unemployed new grad RNs so large that there's enough willing to sully themselves by doing former LPN duties in the nation's nursing homes, prisons, clinics, etc.? That's the million dollar question.
    TheCommuter, BuckyBadgerRN, ktwlpn, and 1 other like this.
  8. 0
    Thanks for replying. I agree it would not be exactly like the Canadian PN programs...I was only saying it would be similar. I can definitely see how it is hard to follow the rest of my post. It is something that is difficult to put into words. I guess there would be nothing special about RNs (outside of RN dominated areas) if all nurses were RNs.
  9. 0
    Good point...but I wonder if extending PN education would open the door to allowing PNs back into areas they are/were being phased out of. I hope I didn't imply that ADN/Diploma were "less RN" than BSNs.
  10. 0
    Existing nurses would be grand-fathered in. What I described was actually the opposite of phasing out LPNs...it expands all non-BSN nurses to LPNs (going forward).
  11. 4
    Interesting Thread, RN-HSA. You have a unique style of composition which made the read more enjoyable.

    This a topic of consideration, basically doing away with the LPN title, since I first got into Nursing over 30 years ago. Probably before that, too. And beating a dead horse is all in good fun because it's not going anywhere soon anyway. But to answer your question, or more aptly put: to give my opinion as an answer to your question, I don't think the existence of LPN's make RN's more impressive.

    The titles are merely a division of responsibility. One isn't more important than the other, each merely have different responsibilities in various settings.

    The names may change, but the responsibilities will probably remain the same.
    Fiona59, RN-HSA, bristolrover, and 1 other like this.
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    I don't think I ever would have even considered that LPN's are some how basically just propping up RN pride in their title. Seems a little ridiculous. Not trying to be mean, just saying I don't think many people perceive the existence of those titles as some kind of competition in social hierarchy. As Davey Do said, it's about division of responsibility, and if you've ever worked in a setting with LPN's and CNA's you quickly realize that each one serves a distinct and equally respectable role in the workplace. By the logic the OP uses, couldn't you also argue the existence of RN's is to only make being a MD more impressive?
    Last edit by Mr. Murse on Jan 15
    Sunflowerinsc, Fiona59, ktwlpn, and 2 others like this.
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    I think that the general public thinks that RNs are more impressive. So, yes. I do believe the existence of LPNs make people (quite mistakenly) think that RNs are more "impressive." I understand what you mean by your question, and I understand that you are not in any way saying or thinking LPNs are "less than" RNs. But the ignorance (lack of knowledge) that the general public has creates this impression of all the tiers of nursing. On a side note, at the LTC/SN facility that I worked for (for only 2 months) there was more jealously/insecurity in the LPNs of the facility. Everyone always asked "are you an RN or an LPN?" When it was revealed that one was an RN (all new grads working with and learning from long experienced LPNs" the RN was pretty much shunned. That facility was full of insecure LPNs. There was no admiration among my LPN coworkers. At my new facility, it has been quite refreshing that I have not once been asked if I was an LPN or RN (except by a resident once.) We simply work together, doing the same thing except IVs.


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