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LIES About LPN's and LVN's

LPN/LVN Article   (4,644 Views 53 Comments 1,552 Words)
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I am a nurse who started out in this profession with little knowledge about how complex nursing is, despite all that I have learned in nursing school. There is so much to learn about nursing that school cannot teach. One important lesson that I learned is not to believe everything that I read or hear. I have since enlightened myself on the lies about the profession of LPN'S and LVN's that I intend to raise awareness about to others who read this article.

LIES About LPN's and LVN's

The exact definition of an LPN/LVN varies by state, employer and organization. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, a Licensed Practical Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse provides basic nursing care. They work under the direction of RN's and Doctors.1 Many websites and educational institutions minimize the role of LPN's and LVN's. I am not certain if this is done in an effort to promote the attainment of a college degree or if the representatives from those establishments have been misinformed about the profession. I have found opposing data on these misconceptions and I am raising awareness about it.

In an article from nursinglicensure.org entitled “LPN's Vs. RN's”, there are several misconceptions present. I read "The role of an LPN is, as the name suggests, practical."2 This is false because I have learned that working as an LPN/LVN comprises basic nursing care and advanced nursing care depending on one's education level, experience and competency. 

I graduated from nursing school initially seeking to become a Registered Nurse since I did not know about the option to become an LPN/LVN. When I did not pass my NCLEX the first time, I became discouraged and thought that perhaps I should take a break from trying to become a nurse. I still wanted to work in the healthcare profession so I decided to become a caregiver.

While seeking employment as a caregiver, I encountered an LPN with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing who was the charge nurse in her own office at the homecare company that I applied for. This is when I first learned that an "LPN/LVN" is a nurse. Even though I met a charge nurse, I decided to re-take my NCLEX with the misconception that LPN's/LVN's are inferior to RN's. I was so eager to be a nurse that I held on to this misconception and did not care.

Perhaps the definitions of LPN's/LVN's that I read in the past have added to my confusion. The description from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and other websites are very misleading since they mention that LPN's are supervised by Registered Nurses and Doctors.1,3 This is true, but so too are RN's who are not supervisors. Staff RN's on different units of hospitals are supervised by their charge nurse who is an RN or a Doctor.

It seems peculiar to me that when looking up the definition of an RN, there is no mention of who they are supervised by.  I have since discovered that an LPN/LVN is not an inferior nurse.  I think that the lies going around about these types of nurses exist because many LPN schools graduate their students without a college degree. This does not necessarily mean that LPN's/LVN's are lower in status because similarly, RN's may graduate without a college degree, being awarded a diploma from an approved nursing program.2 

The length of time that nursing students are educated may be the same for RN's and LPN's too. LPN's and LVN's are not menial or "simple" because they may supervise in a variety of settings and are not limited to supervising unlicensed assistive personnel. The LPN who is a charge nurse requires job expertise that is far from basic nursing care.

The article implied that LPN's do not work in hospital settings very often. The idea of fewer job opportunities for LPN's is misleading since nationwide, there are a lot less Licensed Practical Nurses compared to Registered Nurses. If people tend to get their RN license instead of becoming an LPN, it is only logical that you will see smaller statistical data for the job market of LPN's. This is similar to saying that the availability of meatless pasta for dinner at restaurants is limited if you are a vegetarian. This is a misconception since most people are not vegetarians, so the option for it on menu's nationwide is limited if one were to create statistics on it. The option to order meatless pasta is available in restaurants nationwide if requested, just like the opportunities to work as an LPN/LVN nationwide. 

I did a job search for random hospitals throughout the USA and saw that LPN's and LVN's are commonly hired in hospitals. In California, I saw several openings for LPN's/LVN's on the Colusa Medical Center web site.4 Similarly in Ohio, I saw some job openings at the Akron Children's Hospital.5  As I continued to read the article, it stated  "In hospitals, LPN duties, as well as advancement opportunities, are more limited. 

You’ll find LPNs taking vitals and sometimes administering medications...They won’t have as many options for specialization."3 This too is false because LPN's who are hired in hospitals can become certified to specialize in many areas.  Some specialties in pediatrics include Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Neonatal Advanced Life Support (NALS) and Pediatric Emergency Assessment and Stabilization (PEARS).6 

LPN's can become certified in other specialties through alternate routes from RN's.6  Some specialties outside of pediatrics that I found especially interesting and noteworthy are certifications as case managers, transplant coordinators and they can even work in surgery with certification as  Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialists (RCIS).7 If the scope of practice of LPN's were so limited, the aforementioned specialties would not be available.

I believe that the additional education and training required for LPN's to obtain specialty certification prepares nurses for advanced skilled care performance better than training from nursing school. I feel this way because now that I am a licensed nurse who works in the field, I see that the brief timespan covering each skill is not enough to prepare nurses for performance on actual patients.

I graduated with my Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, which was a 4-year curriculum for full-time students. A lot of information was covered during that time. It is unreasonable to expect someone to remember the details of skills that he or she learned months or even years ago.  If I am performing wound care on a patient and I learned this skill over a year ago, I cannot afford to make a mistake if I forget a step. This is where certification is very useful since it reinforces the skills that were learned in nursing school with updated information and it ensures competency for the procedure.

Registered Nurses are not required to be certified for most procedures.  If I did not decide to take my LPN boards and decided to take the RN route instead, I would be expected to memorize all of the skills that I learned from my 4-year long nursing school curriculum. This is very risky and I would not know how to go about getting additional training.

In conclusion, I want to commend Registered Nurses on their achievements and hard work as healthcare professionals. I do not intend to discredit the professionalism of Registered Nurses. I am merely revealing the prevarications that exist about the profession of LPN's that I too was misled by. It is most important to remember that every health care professional is vital and plays a critical role in the well-being of patients. It is prudent to remain cautious about misleading information pertaining to the profession of LPN's/LVN's and all professions. If there are lies and misconceptions about nursing, what other information about careers have many people been misled by?

REFERENCES:

1. Healthcare Occupations: Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor and Statistics Web site.https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm. Updated  April 13, 2018. Accessed December 23, 2018.

2. LPN's Vs. RN's. Nursing Licensure.org Web site. https://www.nursinglicensure.org/articles/lpn-versus-rn.html. Accessed December 23, 2018.

3. Registered Nurses: Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor and Statistics Web site. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm. Updated  April 13, 2018. Accessed December 23, 2018.

4. Licensed Practical Nurse/ Licensed Vocational Nurse Pacific Gardens Medical Center. Colusa Medical Center Web site. https://americanadvanced.vikus.net/jobs/fXrp-HKESU6HfvtB-cKqiw. Accessed December 23, 2018.

5. LPN w/ Medication Card: Akron Children's Hospital Careers. Akron Children's Hospital Web site. https://careers.akronchildrens.org/jobs/182609?lang=en-us. Accessed December 23, 2018.

6. Specialty Certifications for LPN's. Practical Nursing.org Web site. https://www.practicalnursing.org/specialty-certification-lpns. Accessed December 23, 2018. 

7. Popular Types of LPN Certifications. Practical Nursing Online.com Web site. http://practicalnursingonline.com/popular-types-of-lpn-certifications/. Accessed December 23, 2018.

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I am a Licensed Practical Nurse with my Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. I plan to continue advancing my nursing career by learning as much as possible. I love the healthcare profession.

11 Likes, 2 Followers, 2 Articles, 606 Visitors, and 13 Posts.

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In most states, LPN/LVN is a technical certificate, not a degree program.  After you obtain your education (ASN/ADN, BSN, and in some cases MSN), you sit for those boards, so I'm not sure how this works, especially if you ever want to advance to RN.  For most state BONs your education must be recent, within a certain time frame to do so.  How would you update your education?

There is a pay difference sometimes $10-$20/hr from LPN/LVN vs RN with same years of experience and levels of experience.  I just don't fathom paying for an RN education, and being reimbursed (paid) for that at a lower rate (LPN/LVN).

I also found your post hard to follow.  It may just be me, but in places, it doesn't make a lot of sense. It may be your wording.

What state are you licensed?

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43 minutes ago, Divine-LPN,BSN said:

You’ll find LPNs taking vitals and sometimes administering medications...They won’t have as many options for specialization."3 This too is false because LPN's who are hired in hospitals can become certified to specialize in many areas.  Some specialties in pediatrics include Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Neonatal Advanced Life Support (NALS) and Pediatric Emergency Assessment and Stabilization (PEARS).6 

I would just like to clarify that ACLS, PALS, NALS, and PEARS are not specialties but rather certifications that can be obtained. You do not have to be in pediatrics to obtain these.

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2 minutes ago, JadedCPN said:

I would just like to clarify that ACLS, PALS, NALS, and PEARS are not specialties but rather certifications that can be obtained. You do not have to be in pediatrics to obtain these.

Thanks, for stating, I was going to mention in my reply as well.  Many new grads think that these are specialty certifications.  They are simply work training certificates, for lack of a better explanation. Specialty certifications are CCRN, CEN, CNN, CDN, and CMSRN, to name a few.  All require RN licensure (or at least used to). Some wound certifications require RN licensure as well.

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23 minutes ago, Hoosier_RN said:

In most states, LPN/LVN is a technical certificate, not a degree program.  After you obtain your education (ASN/ADN, BSN, and in some cases MSN), you sit for those boards, so I'm not sure how this works, especially if you ever want to advance to RN.  For most state BONs your education must be recent, within a certain time frame to do so.  How would you update your education?

There is a pay difference sometimes $10-$20/hr from LPN/LVN vs RN with same years of experience and levels of experience.  I just don't fathom paying for an RN education, and being reimbursed (paid) for that at a lower rate (LPN/LVN).

I also found your post hard to follow.  It may just be me, but in places, it doesn't make a lot of sense. It may be your wording.

What state are you licensed?

I think you took offense to her post rather than reading to understand. She stated that lpns do have diplomas and some have their associates.

 

As far as $10-20/he difference my friend is an rn making $22 an hour while I make $28.

And no those aren't specialties those are certifications just like BLS.

Edited by LPNTORN704

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As a practical nursing student I just wanted to say thank you for this post ❤️

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37 minutes ago, LPNTORN704 said:

I think you took offense to her post rather than reading to understand. She stated that lpns do have diplomas and some have their associates.

 

As far as $10-20/he difference my friend is an rn making $22 an hour while I make $28.

And no those aren't specialties those are certifications just like BLS.

No, I didn't take offense.  I'm trying to understand how s/he will make their education relevant if they wish to advance for RN.  Education has a timeframe for most BONs. I just don't understand and was asking so I could get clarity. I re-read that and didn't see anything that even suggested offense. 

I make $15 an hour more than my friend who is an LPN and has 2 more years experience in my state doing the same line of work.  I don't know if you and your friend have same amount of experience in the same specialty, in the same general location.  Those are some factors, as well as the company working for.

CCRN= critical care RN, CDN= certified dialysis nurse, CNN=certified nephrology nurse, CMSRN=certified med/surg RN.  Yes, they are specialty certifications, not like BLS, which anyone can take a class and test for.  These certifications require a certain education level (depending on the cert), length of time and hours of work/service in an allotted timeframe for the desired area of specialty to apply to test.  I've held more than 1 of these certs, and have had to have employers send the materials to prove the length of service, etc.

For example, I work in dialysis.  I used to work in ICU, but haven't in 10 years.  I can't just apply and take the CCRN specialty certification.  I have to have X amount of hours worked in the ICU in the last X years, and be a currently licensed RN.  When I apply to take, I have to supply proof of licensure and my employer supplies proof of service hours.  Unlike BLS/ACLS, etc, where you go online and find a class, pay the fee, go to the class, take the test.  Anyone can do that as they desire.

 

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In some hospitals, while they’re hiring LPNs, in the fine print it’s noticed the institution hiring has an expectation that the newly hired LPN will get their RN degree/license within X years or by X date. 

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7 minutes ago, BarrelOfMonkeys said:

In some hospitals, while they’re hiring LPNs, in the fine print it’s noticed the institution hiring has an expectation that the newly hired LPN will get their RN degree/license within X years or by X date. 

Not necessarily,  not at the hospital me and my friends work at.Also, do you work for all the institutions you are speaking for?do you work in the HR department?just trying to understand. 

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59 minutes ago, Hoosier_RN said:

No, I didn't take offense.  I'm trying to understand how s/he will make their education relevant if they wish to advance for RN.  Education has a timeframe for most BONs. I just don't understand and was asking so I could get clarity. I re-read that and didn't see anything that even suggested offense. 

I make $15 an hour more than my friend who is an LPN and has 2 more years experience in my state doing the same line of work.  I don't know if you and your friend have same amount of experience in the same specialty, in the same general location.  Those are some factors, as well as the company working for.

CCRN= critical care RN, CDN= certified dialysis nurse, CNN=certified nephrology nurse, CMSRN=certified med/surg RN.  Yes, they are specialty certifications, not like BLS, which anyone can take a class and test for.  These certifications require a certain education level (depending on the cert), length of time and hours of work/service in an allotted timeframe for the desired area of specialty to apply to test.  I've held more than 1 of these certs, and have had to have employers send the materials to prove the length of service, etc.

For example, I work in dialysis.  I used to work in ICU, but haven't in 10 years.  I can't just apply and take the CCRN specialty certification.  I have to have X amount of hours worked in the ICU in the last X years, and be a currently licensed RN.  When I apply to take, I have to supply proof of licensure and my employer supplies proof of service hours.  Unlike BLS/ACLS, etc, where you go online and find a class, pay the fee, go to the class, take the test.  Anyone can do that as they desire.

 

For example , my friend works in the operating room on the neuro floor as an rn.Again, I make more than her.Also, I have specialty certs in woundcare,ostomy,lymphedema, diabetic wound management, and in gerontology.So what's your point? Sounds like you're trying to down play her post when in reality in made plenty of sense.

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2 hours ago, Hoosier_RN said:

Not trying to downplay anyone. It’s sounds like you work LTC or LTAC, which they generally make more than regular acute hospitals, because they are seen by some as less desirable, which is dumb, they are great places to learn and grow. I worked in them for last 5 years, loved it and made more than friends working in hospital. If that is the case, your comparison to friend in neuro OR is apples to oranges.

I am also geriatric certified, lymphedema, and WCC, and you know as well as I do that those certs are not the same as BLS

You sound defensive, and I’m not sure why. I just asked the OP for clarification.  That is not downplaying or attacking anyone. 

Not defensive, I think you guys missed the entire point of her post. No, I do not work in acute/ long term care.

Edited by LPNTORN704
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ADMIN NOTE:  Some posts have been removed as they violate our terms of service. Please do not be snarky. 

 

Back to the article: I too started as an LPN, practiced as an LPN for 2 years while getting an ADN

There is a difference between BLS, ACLS, PALS, PEARS, etc and nursing certifications like CCRN= critical care RN, CDN= certified dialysis nurse, CNN=certified nephrology nurse, CMSRN=certified med/surg RN. As others have stated BLS,ACLS,PALS,PEARS are usually job requirements, while certification in a specialty requires additional experience, usually requires a national test and continuing education to maintain. 

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