The role of nurses in a number of diverse medical care settings is one that is essential in the proper care of patients. Whether visiting a physician’s office for an annual medical examination or heading to the emergency room at the hospital for an unexpected injury or illness, a nurse is most often the first person a patient sees. Within nursing, there are a number of different roles, and future nurses can choose from several different nursing programs to pursue. Two popular nursing positions are that of the L.P.N. and R.N.
The Roles of the L.P.N. and the R.N.
An L.P.N. (Licensed Practical Nurse) performs several tasks that are essential in making a diagnosis of a patient. Some of the things an L.P.N. might do include checking vital signs such as blood pressure, making observations on the patient’s appearance and actions, reporting the patient’s responses to specific stimuli, and update documentation in patient records.
An R.N. (Registered Nurse) is also able to perform these tasks in any medical setting, but an R.N. is also licensed for the application of many more types of tasks and procedures. Also, an R.N. is licensed and qualified to make a diagnosis and perform intravenous treatments and other critical care procedures in many medical settings. The additional education an R.N. receives is helpful for the added responsibility in the care of patients in comparison to an L.P.N. In addition, an R.N. is typically able to supervise other nurses, including L.P.N. staff, and an R.N. degree is often a requirement for advancement in nursing management.
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Education, Training, and Licensing
At a minimum, R.N. professionals have an associate’s degree. Many different types of courses are taken in the completion of the R.N. degree, focusing on both lectures and hands-on training. The practical experiences supplement the coursework, preparing students for entering a medical setting immediately after graduation. Most R.N. education programs also prepare graduates to successfully pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Additional licensing may also be required, varying by state.
Students in L.P.N. education programs are often able to earn a certificate in as few as 12 months, in contrast to the minimum two years of an average associate’s degree program. L.P.N. students will also take courses in both classrooms and laboratories, and most institutions also require clinical practice in a medical setting. The various activities and learning mediums help prepare graduates to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) as well, although licensing requirements are different depending on the state of employment.
L.P.N. to R.N.
L.P.N. professionals often continue on with their educations in order to earn a degree as an R.N. and to obtain the license to advance to that role. Current L.P.N. professionals take additional courses such as health management, nursing practice, anatomy and physiology, composition, speech, and microbiology to prepare for taking the NCLEX-RN licensing examination after graduation. Additional information on the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN can be found at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
Both L.P.N. and R.N. professionals play integral roles in medical care in all types of settings. With similar educational backgrounds and training, the two types of nurses are able to work together to deliver the best quality care to every patient.