When you are deciding between a LPN vs RN program, it may be important for you to first  assess how long you want to be in school for. Enrolling in a registered nursing program typically allows you to have a greater scope of practice as a nurse, but will take longer. Going with a practical nursing program will take less time and get you working faster.

Duties of a LPN

Choosing a LPN vs RN program may not be easy. A LPN is a licensed practical nurse, and typically completes an accredited program that is about one year in length. In California and Texas, LPNs are referred to as licensed vocational nurses (LVN). LPNs work under the supervision of either RNs or physicians and are not permitted to do certain jobs depending on the state that they are in.

In some states LPNs can start intravenous fluids, but in other states they cannot start them. LPNs usually cannot take care of complex patients. This usually falls on the RN. Depending on the state, LPNs can do some or all of the following jobs under the supervision of a RN:

  • Providing basic nursing care, such as changing bed pans, bandages, inserting catheters and IVs.
  • Monitoring of patients’ vital signs, such as their pulse and blood pressure
  • Keep patients comfortable; helping them to get dressed, eat and to bathe.
  • Talk about health care issues and concerns with patients and families.
  • Update doctors and nurses about patient status.
  • Keep patients records and document treatment.

When comparing a LPN vs RN program, LPNs provide more basic care and often have to report patient status to RNs. The registered nurse can provide all of the same care, but also is responsible for coordinating patient care plans, can perform diagnostic tests, analyze results and instruct patients on how to manage illnesses after discharge.

The RN’s on the team also typically are in charge, and also may manage other workers on the care team such as healthcare aides, LPNs and other staff. It is most common to find LPNs working in long-term care with older adults.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 38% of LPNs work in nursing care facilities, 17% work in the hospital and 13% work in doctors offices. The remaining 11% work in home healthcare and 7% are government employees. Comparatively, 54% of RN’s work in hospitals and 5% work in long term care. The remainder work in home healthcare and doctor’s offices.


When it comes to schooling there are similarities LPN vs RN program. Both LPNs and RN’s enroll in courses that cover anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and other social sciences. RN’s usually are enrolled in either a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or an Associates Degree (ASN). All programs include clinical placements in hospital such as pediatrics, psychiatry, maternity, acute care and surgery. RNs usually receive more training in communication, leadership and critical thinking. A LPN can advance to become a RN with a LPN to RN bridge-nursing course. These programs are designed for LPNs to further their education to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Associates Degree in Nursing.

To find more about LPN to RN programs please search our site. No matter what path you choose nursing is always a rewarding career.


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