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Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse



Introduction

Without any doubt, in the twenty-first century, humans have a keen interest to become a nurse. Recent technological development and new medical approaches have positively influenced the growth of nursing career. Moreover, political authorities have promised that in a few years, job opportunities and working conditions for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs) will be significantly improved. However, until the modern days, scientists could not clearly define career responsibilities of register nurse and licensed practical nurse. It is worthy to mention that outside of the USA and Canada, these acronymic terms are interrelated and have the same meaning. However, American scholars differentiate register nurse from licensed one, taking into account their peculiarities of work and responsibilities that they bear.

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General Characteristics of a Licensed Practical Nurse

It is known that in 2008, there were employed approximately 753,600 licensed practical nurses in the USA. According to the definition, licensed practical nurses (LPN) work under the management of registered nurses and doctors and provide professional care for disabled, convalescing, or ill patients. Their work is predominantly vital, since they provide the doctors and registered nurses with the profound opportunity to devote their time and efforts to healthcare system, which demands special knowledge and medical experience. It is worthy to mention that terminology of job titles for LPN can be changeable, since it highly depends on the territory that a nurse occupies. For instance, in California and Texas, licensed practical nurses are called as licensed vocational nurse (“Licensed Practical Nurse Programs”, n.d.).

General Characteristics of a Registered Nurse

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, there were employed about 2,737,000 registered nurses in the USA (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010). It is generally known that half of them work in hospitals. Statistically, registered nurses are mostly employed in different clinics of physicians and offices, home health care and temporary help agencies, religious organizations, social service agencies, inpatient and outpatient departments. According to the definition, a registered nurse (RN) is responsible for the treatment of patients and emotional support. Moreover, RNs educate patients, their families, and public about medical conditions and facilities, disease prevention, and effective treatment. It is known that registered nursing specialties consist of addiction, critical care, geriatrics, oncology, neonatology, or pediatrics.

Additionally, some registered nurses can have two specialties. A registered nurse should have expert mode of thinking in order to evaluate situations and provide immediate care. Furthermore, these nurses should always be emotionally stable and patient, since difficult situations may occur. The work schedule of registered nurses may include working in evening, holidays, and weekends. In this case, registered nurses usually work on rotating shifts. However, the disadvantages of this profession relate to risk factors such as exposure to communicable diseases and possible injuries that can occur in case of patient’s lifting and moving (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010).

The First Differential Feature Is Education

Undoubtedly, there are several major differences between the two nursing professions. These include the required education, job responsibilities, and salary. The first differential feature of these two nursing professions is education. After graduation from school, a licensed practical nurse should complete a state-approved training program that lasts one year. Generally, these nurse training courses are mostly offered by community and junior colleges or technical and vocational schools. Moreover, certain specialized high schools, colleges, universities, and hospitals can also offer some LPN programs for training future nurses. These courses include combination of usual classroom studies and supervised clinical internship. Furthermore, it is required to obtain a license to practice as a LPN. In this case, a person should complete these training courses and pass the written examination successfully. It is evident that a licensed practical nurse can reach a higher level in the career path due to his/her experience and knowledge. Thus, LPNs can become credentialed in the various medical fields, such as gerontology, pharmacology, IV therapy, and long-term care.

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Furthermore, licensed practical nurses can re-qualify into registered nurses, if they decide to take appropriate courses and pass the exams (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010). On the contrary, a registered nurse should obtain Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, an associate degree in nursing, or a diploma in nursing. It is known that colleges and universities offer various programs if the person decides to hold Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, which usually takes four years to complete. Community and junior colleges give an undoubtedly profound opportunity to gain an associate degree in nursing. These programs generally take from two to three years of studying.

Finally, hospitals usually administrate diploma programs, which endure during three years. However, LPNs and RNs should pass a national licensing exam, commonly known as the National Council Licensure Examination, and graduate from approved nursing programs. Moreover, exclusive of above mentioned documents, different states can have other requirements relating the nursing employment (Benner, 2001).

The Second Differential Feature Is Job Duties

The second important difference between a registered nurse and a licensed practical nurse is their job duties. Mostly, LPNs and RNs have the same job responsibilities and perform the same job duties. For instance, they both can help patients to eat, take a bath, perform patient’s chores, and walk with them. However, the job duties highly depend on the nursing work settings. Generally, a licensed practical nurse cannot complete patient assessments at her/ his own discretion without RN’s approval. Furthermore, LPN’s is not allowed to administer first time medications or to hang blood. In the framework of identifying the difference between duties of a licensed practical nurse and a registered nurse, it is highly recommended to analyze their job responsibilities separately.

A licensed practical nurse is responsible for dressing wounds, patient’s feeding, primary bedside care, measuring of blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and temperature, giving injections, helping patients with daily needs, such as bathing and dressing. On the contrary, registered nurses are obligated to draw blood samples and to handle certain medications. Moreover, they are responsible for the prescription of drugs, pathology testing, sterilization of the medical equipments, the application of medicine in order to ease patient’s suffering, education of patient’s family members about the effective treatment, recovery system, and diet regulations, management of the medical supplies, etc. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010).

The Third Differential Feature Is Salary

The third peculiar that differentiates a licensed practical nurse from a registered nurse is salary. It is distinctly apprehended that licensed practical nurses start at around 30,000 dollars per year and the maximum that they can earn is equal to 40,000 dollars. On the contrary, registered nurses can firstly earn approximately 40,000 dollars. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that more experienced nurses can have the salaries equal to 62,450 dollars (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010).

Personal Choice

Indisputably, it is hard to define whether to start with LPN program and then to enroll into the practice of RN or go straight for a courses of RN. The choice highly depends on the personality. For instance, if the person already has a family and needs money for a living; thus, it is recommended to become LPN, since the courses that are appropriate for this career definitely will not take much time. Moreover, the person can have a good opportunity to practice and to gain sufficient knowledge in order to become professional registered nurse in the future. On the contrary, if the person has time to study, a good educational track record, and a deep desire to provide highly-qualified medical care and treatment, in this case, it is advisable to take some appropriate nursing courses (Morse, 2010).

Conclusion

All in all, modern medical system is constantly growing. Human reality indicates that fully-fledged medical approaches and numerous breakthroughs of the medical equipment have positively influenced the enrollment of LPNs and RNs. However, it is no clear what profession is better to occupy. This fact can be amplified by the individual priorities and conditions of life, which have a considerable impact on the future career. Thus, the person should deeply examine his/her personal knowledge, availability of free time to obtain appropriate education, financial support, and family relations in order to gain the desirable profession.

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