LPN and RN: Which Should I Get?

The healthcare industry is growing by leaps and bounds. With the focus shifting from the virtual world to healthcare, most job growth can be seen in the medical field. One of the best paid and most sought after professions that offer stability and flexibility is nursing. Such a diverse and broad field allows for varying levels of education and specialties. The two most common types of nurse titles are LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) and RN (Registered Nurse). The duties that each job entail are similar, but both offer different options in terms of pay, flexibility, and career mobility.

nurses uniform

Starting Out

Both LPN degrees and RN degrees have basic courses in Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry, and patient services such as Psychology. The length of the LPN program is usually about one year, and focuses on the practical side of nursing. By the end of their training, LPNs receive a diploma and are deemed qualified to practice nursing under the supervision of an RN. There is much more emphasis on practical tasks such as determining the blood pressure or pulse of the patient, administering vaccines, and monitoring patients during their stay at either a hospital or an outpatient facility. The LPN is said to do all of the legwork for the patient and makes their experience comfortable, while carrying out their job efficiently. Starting salaries for LPNs are typically between $25,000 and $40,000 according to recent statistics.

RN: A Nurse Administrator

RNs also have many hands-on practical exercises during school, but their training usually lasts two years and also takes on the administrative side of the medical field. An RN can study for two years and earn their Associate’s Degree, or continue on and earn their Bachelor’s degree in nursing. It is important to note that an RN that has either an Associate or a Bachelor’s degree will still be an RN, but the RN that has a BSN (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing) will be qualified to administer a clinic and be able to move into management. By the end of their training, be it at the Associate’s or Bachelor’s level, a graduate from an accredited program will be required to pass the NCLEX exam, a national exam designed to certify nurses and prepare them for their work. Successful candidates will then become registered nurses and enjoy starting salaries between $35,000 and $50,000.

What’s the Difference?

As mentioned earlier, the nursing field is a broad and flexible field that allows for varying levels of education. With more education in the nursing field, a nurse moves away from the practical side of things and moves into management. It is not uncommon to hear of a nurse manager or a charge nurse that holds a BSN. An LPN will do the practical work for the patient under the supervision of an RN who reports to another RN that either holds a BSN or MSN. All have the same goal: to take care of the patient.

It’s About Goals

The best way to decide which career is best in nursing is to first decide what your career goals are. If you enjoy working closely with people and doing the practical side of things, an LPN is the way to go. If you like to manage and be in administration, than an RN path will be the best career choice for you.

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