RPNs/LPNs vs. RNs - page 2

by rant

10,764 Views | 55 Comments

I know this has probably been discussed a fair amount on this forum, but as a RPN/LPN that is currently bridging to become a RN, I wanted to share my experiences, questions, and conclusions about the inherent differences between... Read More


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    I'd say it is just wrong to say that RPN's aren't capable of further education. I already have one degree, in which I wrote many essays, did research and passed statistics courses the first time. I took the RPN program because I have a family and could not afford to spend four years in school. There are no accelerated programs anywhere near me.

    I doubt we will ever see the day of one level of nurse because the provincial government of Ontario is running a large deficit and cost cutting will be the order of the day for some time yet. Our premier has said many times that health care costs are rising at an alarming rate and he intends to rein them in regardless of the outcome. Yuck.
    Last edit by linzz on Jun 9, '10
    loriangel14 and Fiona59 like this.
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    From what I've seen, there are some areas of work that seem to be restricted to RNs. I don't doubt the fact that RPNs are being used more as a cost cutting measure (2 RNs @ $30/hr = 3 RPNs @ $20/hr - more people to spread the work around to). In some settings, RNs seem to hae more of an administrative roll.

    I don't agree with the segregation of the different levels of nursing. They have to be able to work together and the segregation doesn't help when there seeems to be so much bitterness betwee the 2 groups.
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    Your post was articulate, well written and supported with examples of your current knowledge and experiences.

    I am an LPN in BC and have been for almost 2 years. I will begin my upgrading this September to bridge into the BScN program. I have waffled about this since the day I finished my LPN program, but decided it is the best decision for me. And it has nothing to do with being unhappy about being an LPN, or my scope.

    It has to do with expanded opportunities in nursing, higher education (a degree), and lastly higher pay.

    I may want to work in L + D and I currently cannot in my province. I may want to speciliaze as wound care nurse (ET) and I cannot as an LPN. I would like to work as an OR nurse. LPNs in BC are being trained in droves as OR nuses which is fabulous, but it won't get me ahead on pay (only $1 more per hour) and if I take a year to get trained as an OR LPN, it still doesn't open up those other doors. Down the road as I age, I may want to be a ward charge nurse, which I cannot do as an LPN.

    Best of luck with your continued education. Please update when you have done an RN clinical rotation. I would be interested in your experiences and to see if your opinion changes.
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    rant, it was very interesting to read about your experience in RPN/LPN to RN education. I'm planning taking the same path, starting the 2 year Practical Nursing program this Sept., and when I'm done bridging to RN. I'm not sure if I'll be doing it through McMaster or George Brow/Centennial and Ryerson, but I'll be doing it because I want to be an RN. Just as I suspected, you said the first year of RN school isn't much different from the PN school, I don't know why they even make that year. I think they should have a 2 year education for RPN/LPN and after that just 2 years more for RN =4 years, without having that transitional/bridging year, and then 2 more years=5 years. I know McMaster has it all in one 3 year program, other programs in Ontario have a 1 year bridging program, then a 2 year Post-Diplma BSN, either way it all ads up to 5 year, instead of the regular BSN of 4 years. ugh. Although sometimes I think it would be nice to just have 1 category of nurses across the country, it very unlikely to happen...
    I just read parts of this document http://www.cna-nurses.ca/CNA/documen...ard-2020-e.pdf
    very interesting... especially chapter 5 Nursing Education in 2020, and chapter 4 Towards 2020: The Road Ahead. They are planning to keep the LPN, RPN, RN roles... but the roads to get there will be different, I think better! Pages 105 to 111 are very interesting... I like some of those education models they are planning to implement. So even if there will be no single nurse category, at least the education and road to different categories will be much better than what it is not (imho)
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    It all boils down to critical thinking. I'm not saying that ALL RPNs lack critical thinking skills and ALL RNs have them, but in my program critical thinking was drilled into us from day one. We were taught how to always expect the unexpected. Because of this, RPNs are ill-equipped to deal with very unstable patients such as in ICU and critical areas of the ER. This is exactly why RPNs are not utilized in critical care areas...at least in my area.

    I disagree completely about RNs having leadership skills being "the only true difference." I know many RPNs that would make far better managers than many RNs. I just graduated and while we did have some classes focusing on learning leadership and management skills, I don't feel prepared to go out and become a DON or a team leader just because I have a BScN under my belt. I don't think that's really what you were getting at with your comment, but I'm just saying.

    I'm not sure how I feel on having just one type of nurse, but I can say that after just finishing a very demanding 4-year program I would be upset if I was making the same thing as someone that just finished a 2 year program. I worked very hard for my degree and feel that I deserve compensation for my 4 years of blood, sweat, and tears. Do I feel that RPNs are underpaid? Yes. Do I feel that RNs are also underpaid? Yep. All nursing is incredibly demanding - it is NOT an easy job.
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    RescueNinja: Yes, you do deserve to be compensated four your education.

    I also think that in Ontario, there should be far more nursing jobs than there are at this time. In addition, I keep hearing that new grads in Toronto are having a tough time finding work after the new grad guarantee ends. Is this the case all through Ontario?
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    Quote from linzz
    RescueNinja: Yes, you do deserve to be compensated four your education.

    I also think that in Ontario, there should be far more nursing jobs than there are at this time. In addition, I keep hearing that new grads in Toronto are having a tough time finding work after the new grad guarantee ends. Is this the case all through Ontario?
    Unfortunately yes. There are tons of RN jobs, but they are either being "filled" with RPNs and then left posted as a vacant RN position or not being filled at all since almost all facilities are running in a deficit. Some are also being cut out of the budget completely. Although almost everyone in my class had a job before we even finished classes. Mental Health and ER seem to be the areas where they need the most RNs so people hoping to work there are having an easier time finding jobs...
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    Quote from RescueNinja
    It all boils down to critical thinking. I'm not saying that ALL RPNs lack critical thinking skills and ALL RNs have them, but in my program critical thinking was drilled into us from day one. We were taught how to always expect the unexpected. Because of this, RPNs are ill-equipped to deal with very unstable patients such as in ICU and critical areas of the ER. This is exactly why RPNs are not utilized in critical care areas...at least in my area.

    I disagree completely about RNs having leadership skills being "the only true difference." I know many RPNs that would make far better managers than many RNs. I just graduated and while we did have some classes focusing on learning leadership and management skills, I don't feel prepared to go out and become a DON or a team leader just because I have a BScN under my belt. I don't think that's really what you were getting at with your comment, but I'm just saying.

    I'm not sure how I feel on having just one type of nurse, but I can say that after just finishing a very demanding 4-year program I would be upset if I was making the same thing as someone that just finished a 2 year program. I worked very hard for my degree and feel that I deserve compensation for my 4 years of blood, sweat, and tears. Do I feel that RPNs are underpaid? Yes. Do I feel that RNs are also underpaid? Yep. All nursing is incredibly demanding - it is NOT an easy job.

    Do you feel that as a degree holding nurse you are better educated and deserve a higher wage than those RNs who attended diploma or hospital base programmes? You are opening an entirely different can of worms with that statement.

    Critical thinking is required by my employer, it's even listed as a requirement in PN postings. My critical thinking skills have been honed by studying a different discipline rather than nursing. Yet, they are superior in nursing areas to many RNs with less than five years experience because I have hands on nursing experience and I've been taught to think outside the box.

    RPNs are registered psychiatric nurses west of Ontario. Do you feel that they don't deserve the same wage as RNs because they are diploma educated?

    Be careful how you answer these questions because many of the Cdn. RN posters are diploma grads.
    CuriousStudent1108 and linzz like this.
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    Quote from Fiona59
    Do you feel that as a degree holding nurse you are better educated and deserve a higher wage than those RNs who attended diploma or hospital base programmes? You are opening an entirely different can of worms with that statement.

    Critical thinking is required by my employer, it's even listed as a requirement in PN postings. My critical thinking skills have been honed by studying a different discipline rather than nursing. Yet, they are superior in nursing areas to many RNs with less than five years experience because I have hands on nursing experience and I've been taught to think outside the box.

    RPNs are registered psychiatric nurses west of Ontario. Do you feel that they don't deserve the same wage as RNs because they are diploma educated?

    Be careful how you answer these questions because many of the Cdn. RN posters are diploma grads.
    You're twisting my comments into something they are not. I said people who have "just graduated" like myself. So the RNs who have not "just graduated" and have diplomas under their belts also have a wealth of experience which is something I do not have - which is something that THEY should be compensated for. Both of my parents as well as two of my aunts and an uncle are RN diploma grads. If the diploma program was still available you can bet your you-know-what I would not have gone the BScN route, but unfortunately that was not an option for me.

    Critical thinking on paper and critical thinking when you're standing there and your patient is crashing are two entirely different things. Critical thinking also varies from unit to unit. I wouldn't have the critical thinking skills necessary for a L&D nurse and a nurse with no ICU experience probably wouldn't have the critical thinking skills to work where I work. I clearly noted that I was not talking about ALL RNs or ALL RPNs.
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    No, I'm not twisting your comments, merely replying to them.

    I guess you are fortunate not to be working in western Canada where you will find PNs working in ICUs and ERs and doing a good job at it from what I hear.


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