RPNs/LPNs vs. RNs - page 4

by rant 11,069 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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    Actually there are three types of nursing professionals in Canada (the practical nurse, psychiatric nurse and registered nurse).

    Very little (if any) consultation has been with actual working nurses on how their eduation should change. The Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPN) are being told their education has to become a degree programme to fall in line with the RN education. This has led to a scramble to get into the Psychiatric Nursing field because not all students can afford four years at University. There are some fantastic RPNs working the surgical and medical units in my hospital (their education allows for experiences in all areas of care but their primary focus is on Mental Health).

    Nobody consulted the working RPNs to see if they felt their patients would be better served by a degree based nurse.

    The provincial colleges very rarely consult their membership on how we feel that our next generation should be educated. I remember when the Practical Nursing programme was changed to include all the first year university Arts courses. Nobody consulted with the working nurses. The strange thing was that many working LPNs already had these courses under their belt prior to taking their nursing education. The new grads are no different from the "old" grads, they just have a bigger student loan.

    For the BScN grads, what we constantly see in the workplace is new grads that are very unsure of themselves and their skills. They don't spend enough time on the units learning their craft/trade. When we precept the university students, we have to virtually drag them into rooms for the hands on stuff (yes, I know you've already done a this procedure once and had it checked off BUT the more often you do it, the easier it becomes). They have no experience of working shifts because most clinicals are over by 22hr. So finding that first job and facing reality becomes a major slap in the face.

    Profiles of kb14 and a couple of the other posters don't give us much info on where they are in their nursing career. But once they've walked a few hundred shifts in our white shoes, maybe they will understand where the "older generation" of nurses are coming from.

    The average nurse will never go into management or do research. Those spots are few and far between. Instead they will hospital nurse until burnout, retirement or a better non-nursing opportunity hits them in the face.
    loriangel14 and linzz like this.
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    I can say that I have heard time and time again from the charge RN's that I am related to, of whom have taken many courses over the years to upgrade themselves so they are on par with the newer grads, that they find that some new grads just are a long way from being floor ready. Interestingly, I have also heard numerous complaints about lousy people skills with patients and staff members.

    I don't think that these nurses are being mean, I just think they expect a new nurse to work hard at the job and at fitting in with the staff. I formerly worked in Human Resources and most companies expect this of new hires.
    Fiona59 likes this.
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    I know I said that my previous message was going to be the last but I just want to respond to your retort.

    We obviously don't see eye to eye and that's fine but if you want to spend a great deal of time complaining how superior RPNs/LPNs are to the new BScN RNs then so be it but do so in an environment where it can be changed--LOBBY it and get Political! Amass a group of PNs and march to those provincial colleges and demand change. The reality of today is RNs are required to get a BScN, end of discussion. Society is dynamic; we can't rely on the old ways and expect everything will fall into place. Nursing cannot be stagnant; if we want other professions to take us seriously we must take the adequate steps to reach the levels where we can be part of the current discourse. That cannot happen when nurses have diplomas.

    You're asking new grads to be perfect nurses on their first day of work, and that's not how it goes (maybe in your time, but I highly doubt that). Learning is a process not an end to anything. Are you saying that nurses in the past knew EVERYTHING that they needn't learn anything new after they received their titles? That’s just arrogance, if it’s a “yes”! As some people argued earlier in this forum, skills and knowledge are gained through exposure so whether you learn it in school or the workforce, what’s the difference when you’re still focusing on patient care. Just because an RPN has more bedside experience than a New Grad it doesn’t mean that they should get higher pay considering there is a small yet very significant difference in their education and training. Yes, there is a difference between “old” grads (trained in the hospital) and new grads and it’s academia. As to salary (at least in ON), min. wages for new nurses always increase by some sort of percentage (I think about 1-3%) every few years or so. So what “older” nurses were making when they were new to the profession is not similar to what the new grads are making today. Moreover, it’s a different GENERATION that means different issues and increasing technology. When arguing my point, I’m thinking about the current situation right now, not what happened in the past.

    Attitudes such as “the average nurse will never go into management or do research,” are so discouraging for those who want to pursue those types of nursing careers and there are many who do! Advance practice nursing does not necessarily equate to research or management. How about Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Nurse Educators in Schools? I’m looking through job posting right now at different hospitals here in my city, and it seems like the current openings are for those positions mentioned above. Furthermore, I feel your arguments concentrate highly on the mechanical bed-side part of nursing. Nursing is so broad and to centralize your defense at just one skill aspect of nursing totally undermines those who work in the community, governments, occupational health, etc. What if these nurses in the future decided to go back to bed-side and they fail to remember ALL their required bed-side nursing skills, should they be looked down upon like the current New Grads? Should they get paid as much as an RPN even if they hold a BScN?

    I DO NOT claim that BScN RNs are better than “older” nurses/RPNs/LPNs, that’s not my main argument. My main argument is that there IS a DIFFERENCE between the two or three or four or five etc. types of nurses (or however many nurses you claim because I always seem to miss one, my bad lol) and that is the reason for the contrast in pay (more specifically RPNs/LPNs). Keyword: DIFFERENCE but I do not contend that it is necessarily better.
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    This debate is deteriorating into a bit of a rant. Might we tone down the rhetoric a bit please?

    Just a comment: The need for "the mechanical bed-side part of nursing" is growing and will always be the largest proportion of nursing jobs. Not everyone is suited to nor wants to provide hands-on nursing care, in the same way that not everyone is suited to manage or participate in advanced practice. (Indeed, I can think of more than a few people who should NOT be managers... but they aren't good at the bedside either, so where does that leave them?) Stating the obvious, that the average nurse will spend their entire career providing front-line care, in and of itself is not discouraging to anyone who wants something different from their nursing career.
    linzz and Fiona59 like this.
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    Got to love students. They are so idealistic.
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    How patronizing and pessimistic gotta love the older nurses! lol
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    Here's a bucket of cold water. I'm closing the thread for a cooling-off period.
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    Let's see if we can keep this dabate friendly and on topic, shall we?
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    Quote from Fiona59
    kb14:

    You need to do some research on the history of nursing in Canada. Practical nurses (only Ontario uses the designation RPN) have been around for over 60 years. We were introduced to assist in the nursing shortage brought about by WWII.

    PN skills, scope, and education have continued to expand over the decades just as the RNs has.

    The BScN education started to gain more acceptance in Canada in the mid-1970s. I remember UBC started theirs around 1977 or 78. I believe the U of A has one of the oldest programmes in Canada (for some reason 1923 sticks in my mind). Many hospital trained nurses feel the degree has developed the wrong way. One year of the education is in Arts (English, Soc, Psych all worthwhile courses in their own right but nurses should come prepared to write a simple short essay).

    I've had several friends do the degree after their PN here in Alberta and all have agreed that far too much time was spent writing essays. I even remember tutoring a couple of them on their first year English essays and electives.
    The term RPN is fairly new. They used to be called RNA's before. Registered Nursing Assistants. The change happened in 1995 I believe.
    kb14 likes this.
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    Quote from Fiona59
    Actually there are three types of nursing professionals in Canada (the practical nurse, psychiatric nurse and registered nurse).

    Very little (if any) consultation has been with actual working nurses on how their eduation should change. The Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPN) are being told their education has to become a degree programme to fall in line with the RN education. This has led to a scramble to get into the Psychiatric Nursing field because not all students can afford four years at University. There are some fantastic RPNs working the surgical and medical units in my hospital (their education allows for experiences in all areas of care but their primary focus is on Mental Health).

    Nobody consulted the working RPNs to see if they felt their patients would be better served by a degree based nurse.

    The provincial colleges very rarely consult their membership on how we feel that our next generation should be educated. I remember when the Practical Nursing programme was changed to include all the first year university Arts courses. Nobody consulted with the working nurses. The strange thing was that many working LPNs already had these courses under their belt prior to taking their nursing education. The new grads are no different from the "old" grads, they just have a bigger student loan.

    For the BScN grads, what we constantly see in the workplace is new grads that are very unsure of themselves and their skills. They don't spend enough time on the units learning their craft/trade. When we precept the university students, we have to virtually drag them into rooms for the hands on stuff (yes, I know you've already done a this procedure once and had it checked off BUT the more often you do it, the easier it becomes). They have no experience of working shifts because most clinicals are over by 22hr. So finding that first job and facing reality becomes a major slap in the face.

    Profiles of kb14 and a couple of the other posters don't give us much info on where they are in their nursing career. But once they've walked a few hundred shifts in our white shoes, maybe they will understand where the "older generation" of nurses are coming from.

    The average nurse will never go into management or do research. Those spots are few and far between. Instead they will hospital nurse until burnout, retirement or a better non-nursing opportunity hits them in the face.
    why would you expect them to consult with RPN's who are done school? Why on Earth?
    WOW, your last paragraph is crazy.
    I have my BScN and yes I did OR nursing for years. Now, I have a very cushy job doing case management. There are tons of nursing jobs that are not hands on. Many many RN's do them.
    This is why I got my degree. It will be YOU, the hands on nurse who burns out. Not the one with the BSCN.
    kb14 likes this.


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