LPN vs RN: Responsibilities and Duties


LPNs vs RNs differ significantly in the job roles and responsibilities that they have to fulfil this is in fact one of the key differences as it highlights and controls who may do what and when.

If you are thinking of becoming either an LPN or an RN, then knowing what you will be expected to do in each position is very important. Have a close look at the information presented below and make sure that you have what it takes to complete the tasks required of each type of nurse. If you are not able to do these things, choose a different career.

In shortened form LPNs are able to do a lot less than RNs, but their opinions are valuable and RNs are willing to take their advice and listen to their suggestions on a variety of topics.

LPN Responsibilities and Duties

Here are some of the basic duties than an LPN is allowed to perform:

  • Collecting information from a patient
  • Maintaining patient records
  • Providing patient with basic care
  • Giving injections
  • Monitoring catheters
  • Dressing wounds
  • Assisting with a patient’s basic comfort and hygiene

Note that an LPN is in charge of CNAs and nursing aides. They are responsible for everything these aides do. However, on the other hand, everything that an LPN does must be supervised by an RN. An LPN cannot perform any of the tasks mentioned below which belong to an RN. They are also unable to work unsupervised at any time.

RN Responsibilities and Duties

The basic responsibilities of an RN are far more advanced than those of an LPN. An RN can do everything that an LPN can do, but in addition they have a number of other responsibilities as well. Many people say that this makes being an RN a more stressful job. The things an RN can do are:

  • Treat patients
  • Educate patients and the public about various medical conditions
  • Provide advice and emotional support to patients’ family members
  • Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results
  • Operate medical machinery
  • Administer treatment and medications
  • Help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation

Being an RN comes with a lot more power, but also with a lot more responsibility. In fact many nurses working today believe that being an RN is far more stressful than being an LPN. Hence often nurses make the choice to keep their LPN qualification and not become an RN. However there are many places that you can go if you have an RN qualification, and you do not want to run the risk of closing those doors. The tasks that you perform as an RN are, yes, a little more stressful, but as you become more skilled at your job these tasks will no longer be a serious issue in your way. You will soon become professional and skilled and you will have very little trouble indeed with the job description in the long run, I can guarantee that.

RN vs. LPN: Education

There are a number of differences between LPN vs RN nurses. One of the key differences lies in the education that they have to undergo in order to be qualified for the position. There are a number of things to consider in this regard, and should not come as a surprise to you that RNs, with their advanced levels of responsibility, require more educational training than LPNs.

LPN Schooling requirements

There are a few schooling requirements that LPNs have to undergo in order to be properly qualified to work in the field. These are the following:

The number of years of training that an LPN nurse will have to complete to get their certificate or diploma will usually take something like one year, but can last as many as two years. Because it does not take a lot of time to qualify as an LPN, many nurses decide to become and LPN first instead of immediately qualifying as an RN. This is because they will be able to work as an LPN and earn money while they study towards their RN qualification. You need to be sure that you can devote the time necessary for the successful completion of your qualification before you sign up for an LPN program.

The places where you can get LPN training vary immensely. You could for example get your qualification through state-approved program at a community college, nursing school or through a hospital. The important thing though is that the program you choose to qualify through is state approved. If it is not state approved then you will be effectively wasting your time. There are numerous schools in all of the different states that you should consider if you are hoping to become an LPN make sure that you make the decision carefully and that you do not rush into things.

For an LPN qualification you will have to do main types of training, namely hands-on clinical training and theory work. The theory work comes first and often, depending on the program, you will not be able to move on to clinical training until you have completed the theory training. You may even be able to do the theory section of your qualification online so that you do not interrupt your normal schedule o study. However remember that clinical training is essential and any program claiming to qualify for as an LPN without clinical training is fraudulent and should be avoided.

In order to fully qualify as an LPN nurse in the United States of America you will have to pass the appropriate examination. This is the NCLEX-PN examination and consists of multiple choice questions based on the coursework you have completed. To write the exam you will have to pay $200 to the company that administers the exam. This company is called Pearson Vue. You may also have to pay the state board of nursing in your state to apply for the examination as well as for licensure. Once you have done this you will be licensed to practice as an LPN nurse in that state.

An LPN is required to renew his or her license every two years. In many states you will have to provide proof of continuing training in order to renew your license. It must be noted that fees, practice requirements and/or continuing education hours required vary by state, so make sure that you know exactly what you have to do in order to renew your license. You may, for example, have to pay a renewal fee. You may have to complete 30 or 20 hours of continuing training in order to renew the license.

RN Schooling requirements

There are quite a few differences in schooling when it comes to RN nurses as compared to LPN nursing requirements.

The very lowest qualification that an RN can hold is an Associate’s degree. An Associate’s degree can take about 2 or 3 years to complete. For nurses with higher career goals there are the options of getting your BSN or MSN in nursing. These are both advanced degrees which take approximately 4 years. If you do an LPN to RN bridging course it may take less time. The higher the degree you earn the more job opportunities will be open to you once you have completed your RN qualification. This is far more time intensive than an LPN qualification.

There are numerous places that offer RN training, but usually this type of training is offered in more formal settings. For example you could do a four year nursing degree at a university. There is the option of completing your RN training online. This is because the amount of clinical work that you will have to complete is far less than what you would have to do as an LPN as the assumption often is that you are already working as an LPN and are therefore receiving the education you need. However if this is not the case intensive face-to-face programs are recommended.

Like with LPN training you will have to do both clinical and theoretical coursework. If you are doing an LPN to RN bridging program than you will have the opportunity to do your qualification online as there will not be as much clinical practices for you to do. However if you are studying directly for your RN qualification and bypassing the LPN route, then you will need to engage in even more clinical work then LPNs have to do. Make sure that you are enrolled in a school that offers adequate clinical training so that you can pass.

To complete your qualification and become an RN nurse you will have to write the NCLEX-RN examination which works in a very similar way to the NCLEX-PN examination. It consists of multiple choice questions based on the coursework you have completed. To write the exam you will have to pay $200 to the company that administers the exam. This company is called Pearson Vue. You may also have to pay the state board of nursing in your state to apply for the examination as well as for licensure. Once you have done this you will be licensed to practice as an LPN nurse in that state.

RNs have to also renew their licenses regularly in order to continue practicing, but there is no real set time period for them to do this in and it may vary drastically form state to state. Like with LPN licenses fees, practice requirements and/or continuing education hours required vary by state. You also do not have to engage in as much continuing training if you are an RN nurse as you would if you were an LPN< although it is generally considered wise to keep abreast of advanced in the medical field in order to be a good nurse.

LPN vs. RN: Salary

The average salary for an LPN is about $41,289 a year, while the average salary for an RN is around $65,687 a year. Now these are averages for the nation as a whole. There are some very big differences between specific states so it is important that you find out what the options are in your state before making a final decision in this regard. As you can see an RN can earn a lot more than an LPN> this is why so many nurses treat their LPN qualification as a stepping stone to a better qualification at a later date.

RN vs. LPN: Work Settings

LPNs and RNs tend to be more prevalent in different settings. The figures mentioned below are only approximate.

When it comes to LPN nurses, on average one-quarter work in a hospital setting, one-quarter work in nursing homes, 12 percent work in physician’s offices, and the remainder work in a variety of settings (such as health care services, residential care facilities, outpatient care centers and government agencies). There are literally settings out there to suit every kind of desire. If you feel that you will do better in one setting than another then you have the freedom to choose.
RN nurses, on the other hand, are distributed a little differently. Approximately 59 percent of RNs work in hospitals, 8 percent work in physicians’ offices and the remainder mostly work. mostly in home health care, nursing homes and outpatient care facilities. Again there are a number of options for you to choose form and you should be able to find a setting that suits you.

So there you have it: all of the information that you could possibly need for comparing LPN and RN careers. Hopefully you are now able to decide whether you want to become an LPN first or head straight for the RN qualification. Both have their advantages, and both their disadvantages, but you should have a minimum of trouble making your final decision now that you have taken the time to become well-informed.