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LPN vs. RN (RN)

by Elizabeth Russ

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    00:01 When people say that they're a nurse in the United States, they typically mean that they hold one of two licenses.

    00:07 They are either a Licensed Practical Nurse or a Registered Nurse.

    00:11 In the previous section, we reviewed some of the differences between the LPN and RN in terms of degrees, certification and all of that.

    00:18 But now let's look at what that actually means for practice, for the nitty-gritty details of what nurses and LPNs can actually do.

    00:25 You'll need to visit your State Board of Nursing, which will list their version of what's called a nursing practice act, and it will tell you the scope of practice for each type of license holder. But in general, what's the biggest difference? Registered nurses attend more training and, therefore, can carry out some additional jobs and responsibilities.

    00:47 RNs are typically paid more than LPNs and are more likely to get a job in a hospital depending on the location than LPNs, although recently we're actually seeing more and more of LPNs kind of being shuttled back into the hospital and taking on all kinds of roles in nursing teams. So I personally think that's really cool.

    01:05 So LPN is definitely an interesting field to look into.

    01:07 So, what are the primary roles of a Registered Nurse? Registered Nurses are trained to assess patients and monitor them for any changes in status; triage the most to the least critical patients and concerns, all in a safe way; you communicate a lot with the healthcare team about the patient and act as an advocate for the patient; you administer medications And you perform procedures such as wound care, inserting catheters; And provide a great deal of patient education.

    01:34 Registered Nurses do not require supervision in order to do these tasks and can perform them independently.

    01:40 In terms of becoming a registered nurse, RN programs typically take four plus years to complete from start to finish, and many can be quite expensive.

    01:49 But again, you do have a higher salary as a result, once you graduate.

    01:53 Sometimes a whole lot higher depending on where you live.

    01:58 So it kind of balances out.

    02:00 Licensed Practical Nurses, or Licensed Vocational Nurses, if you are from Texas or California, they attend a shorter nursing program.

    02:08 They cover many of the same topics as Registered Nurse programs with classes like human anatomy, med surg, psych, pharm, all of that.

    02:17 And they prepare largely for the same role in terms of assessment, med administration, patient education and so on.

    02:25 LPN programs do not contain all of the content that Registered Nurse programs do, but, really, like, when you compare, you still learn so much in an LPN program.

    02:37 LPNs are usually required to practice under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or other healthcare provider, and the state's Board of Nursing determines what exactly they can and they cannot do, just like with Registered Nurses.

    02:49 Here's kind of a practical example of that.

    02:52 When I worked in Michigan, we had LPNs that worked with us on the floor, on the unit in the hospital, and they took a standard assignment and they knew more than pretty much all of the rest of us that were Registered Nurses because we were young babies. Yet, their assessment charting needed to be signed off by the charge nurse, who was the Registered Nurse.

    03:11 They couldn't administer blood products and there were limitations on the types of IV meds that they could actually give. These guidelines will change, like I said, based on your location.

    03:20 But overall, there is a little less autonomy and some tasks you can't perform as an LPN, but depending on where you work, you don't do some of these things anyways, so it wouldn't even matter.

    03:32 Like, for example, in a pediatric office at least, you weren't routinely giving blood and IV insulin at your doctor's office.

    03:38 At least, I certainly hope you're not. But the lack of these procedures is kind of why many LPNs are utilized in the outpatient setting for that exact reason. So why would you kind of pick LPN versus RN? A huge benefit of an LPN program is the time and the cost.

    03:53 They are quicker than most RN programs and are more affordable.

    03:57 This can be a great career in itself, or you can use it as a stepping stone to an RN degree, if that's something that you desire.

    04:04 But the cost of entry to go straight to the RN program is a little bit too high in the beginning.

    04:10 And I know there's a lot of contention out there about LPNs and some who stand on their mountain and say that LPNs, you know, that's a lesser nurse.

    04:20 And I just want to validate to any and all of you who are LPNs or aspiring LPNs that that's just a bunch of garbage from insecure people with a power complex.

    04:28 You are valued.

    04:30 You are absolutely nurses.

    04:31 You are an essential part of the healthcare team.

    04:33 And I really, really hope that you feel that.

    04:36 Thank you for coming to my TEDx talk.

    04:38 Now let's look at the five most common ways to become a Registered Nurse.

    04:41 Because, while obtaining your LPN is usually pretty straightforward, becoming an RN is about as clear as mud.

    04:50 So, let's get messy.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture LPN vs. RN (RN) by Elizabeth Russ is from the course Choosing a Nursing Program (RN).


    Author of lecture LPN vs. RN (RN)

     Elizabeth Russ

    Elizabeth Russ


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