What does Assessment mean?

by Bug Out Bug Out Member

Or to put it plainly...what is the main difference between a RNs Assessment and a LPNs Observation?

A little background...I was having a friendly discussion with another RN about our LPNs and I was failing to eloquently define the real difference between a RN Assessment and what a LPN observes.

What I was thinking was a RN can take the many different types of observations and data and make an overall determination of the health status of the patient where a LPN can only observe and report but then again they can identify client needs based upon the observations so....what is the distinction between what a LPN and what a RN does???


classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator. 2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

you are on the right track. The RN assesses each body system, then correlates what is seen to what the MD has ordered. The RN gets the "big picture" and has more education to back up his/her documentation. Knowing more details about what could possibly happen, like diabetes insipidus after surgery, is part of the assessment component. LVN's evaluate/observe the patient for changes in condition. Your Nurse Practice Act may define further.



58 Posts

Do you really think all RN's have more education than LPNs?

I'm wondering because at my school LPN's take a total 38 Credit hours worth of nursing classes, my community college had this program transfered from the local university. The ASRN program has a total of 34 credit hours of nursing classes that was adopted from a normal state college (non-university level). Now I am sure that the material has its differences. Assuming though that an RN has to know everything an LPN knows and then more to understand the "Big Picture". I just don't understand the math involved here the total credit difference is in the General Education courses, in which I have all the gen.eds. for both programs. I just applied for the LPN first which I start tommorow, only because enrollment for the RN class doesn't start until fall midway through the semester. So technically I will have more education at the end of my LPN (including nursing specific classes) than an RN graduating from my school would. I ask all of this wondering if anyone has ever heard of people CLEP testing RN classes, given my schools credit curriculum I think I'd have a shot of passing any test they could throw at me.

Anyone know if people CLEP RN classes? Even if I can just lighten the load from the RN class and CLEP say the classwork that is just the basics assuming I can't get into one of the ten bridge seats my school offers.



Specializes in oncology, med/surg (all kinds). 89 Posts

this is a pretty hot debate. i'm not even going there because i know PNs who i would trust with my life and RNs i wouldn't let water my plants. i wanted to comment on your CLEP comment. don't know what that means, but i THINK you mean trying to test out of a class. unfortunately, regardless of your knowledge, i am pretty sure that there are a minimum number of hours you must attend the RN program in any state. that is, if you were an MD, say, an OB with 10 years of experience and decided to go to nursing school, you would likely not be able to test out of your nursing OB rotation. it is not so much the education--altho that is part of it, of course--but they physical hours spent and documented by your school in clinical and didactic settings. good try, but i don't think you will make it out of any of your RN or bridge classes. but, maybe someone needs to be the first!

tewdles, RN

Specializes in PICU, NICU, L&D, Public Health, Hospice. Has 31 years experience. 3,156 Posts

Or to put it plainly...what is the main difference between a RNs Assessment and a LPNs Observation? ....what is the distinction between what a LPN and what a RN does???

IMHO, that is largely dependent upon the nurses in question. I have worked with nurses good and bad at all levels. There are amazing LPNs who can assess the pants off a nurse practitioner...there are RNs who couldn't assess their way out of a paper bag.

Most RNs have completed 3-5yrs of nursing related college, LPNs not so much...so right out of the box, RNs are capable of a more professional assessment and plan based upon education. Good nurses never stop learning.