At a glance, a registered nurse and a licensed practical nurse many not significantly differ. Both nurses assist physicians in providing care and educating patients to achieve their optimal level of health. In actuality, the roles and responsibilities of each nurse greatly differ. The nursing profession involves hierarchies and responsibilities, which are largely dependent on their level of education, job title, credentials and scope of practice. Both nurses focus their study on nursing arts and sciences; however, the length of education and the scope of practice define an RN from an LPN.
An LPN program can be completed in about a year. Classes are offered in community colleges, technical or vocational schools and high schools. For licensure, the nurse candidate must be able to pass the NCLEX-PN examination. A licensed practical nurse provides direct patient care under the supervision of RNs and physicians. Main roles and responsibilities include gathering of patient information, obtaining of vital signs, monitoring of other parameters that indicate the health status of the patient, administering of medications and changing of dressings. In addition, an LPN is tasked to assist patients as they perform their activities of daily living, such as eating and ambulating, and to provide assistance during personal hygiene activities like bathing and toileting.
A registered nurse has more responsibilities compared to a licensed practical nurse. An RN is also involved in a wider spectrum of patient care issues. These are the reasons why an LPN aspiring to become an RN has to go through additional education and training. In addition to duties typically performed by an LPN, it is within the scope of the RN to perform certain actions independently, as he or she sees fit. It is also within the RN’s scope to provide patient and family education, create and evaluate nursing care plans, perform certain invasive procedures and administer medications. Patients with complex, complicated or unpredictable cases are usually managed by RNs, mainly because they received the knowledge and the training to handle such cases.
A registered nurse has a greater potential for career advancement. With additional training, an RN may hold supervisory positions or manage higher level nursing positions, such as nurse manager or director of nursing. These opportunities are the ones that are not offered to LPNs however experienced or efficient.
LPN-to-RN online programs are available to licensed practical nurses desiring to receive the compensations and opportunities that are only available to registered nurses. These programs are usually offered in nursing colleges and universities. A number of LPN-to-RN schools are also offering online LPN-to-RN programs for interested and qualified LPNs. Some institutions offer diploma and associate degree in nursing, whereas other LPN-to-RN schools offer a baccalaureate degree in nursing. After the completion of the program, the nurse should pass the NCLEX-RN examination in order to work as a professional RN.
If you are a licensed practical nurse aiming to become a registered nurse, choosing a nursing school that offers an accredited and competitive LPN-to-RN online program is vital. It is recommended to check with the LPN-to-RN schools or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission to determine the accreditation status of the online LPN-to-RN programs.