LPN vs RN: What are the Major Differences in 2023?


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    Hello, welcome to a fantastic article on Licensed Practical Nurse vs. Registered Nurse.

    By reading this post to the end, we certify that you will have a detailed understanding of the LPN and RN career paths, their similarities, differences between them, and their significance.

    After reading this LPN vs RN post, you’ll understand the following and more:

    Similarities between an LPN and RN
    Prerequisite knowledge for becoming RN or LPN
    How LPNs differ from Registered Nurses
    Education requirements and licensing

    Without further delay, let’s get started!

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      Do you want to start a career as a nurse?

      There has never been a better time to begin.

      Demand for healthcare is rising as the baby boom generation gets older, and the rising need for healthcare necessarily leads to increased demand for nurses of all types.

      This is due to the patient care nurses give on the front lines.

      Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) are two of the most popular types of nurses (RNs).

      Licensed Practical Nurses may alternatively be referred to as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs).

      Many individuals are unfamiliar with the distinctions between a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and a Registered Nurse (RN).

      Although both allow for a rewarding career in nursing and healthcare, there are differences in factors such as job responsibilities, salary, and education.

      If you’re looking into nursing careers, you might ask what the difference is between these two nurses.

      It’s good to learn about the job responsibilities and career goals for both RNs and LPNs before embarking on your educational path in a nursing program.

      To summarize, LPNs are in charge of providing more basic nursing care and are usually supervised by RNs.

      RNs, on the other hand, are in charge of giving medicine to patients and developing a treatment plan to promote and recover their health.

      Read on to find out how LPNs stack up against RNs regarding responsibilities, average salary, employment prospects, and education/training needs.

      Let’s look at the distinctions between LPN and RN programs, from education to professional responsibilities.

      LPN vs RN Job Duties

      While registered nurses and licensed practical nurses may regularly collaborate as healthcare workers at a hospital or other care facilities, the functions and responsibilities of their respective jobs are vastly distinct.

      RNs are responsible for supervising LPNs, as mandated by law.

      The model will differ depending on the type of healthcare facility.

      In a medical setting, a Registered Nurse might be assigned to six patients on a medical floor, along with one LPN and, hopefully, a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) who is assigned three times as many patients.


      In this scenario, the LPN would assist the RN with medicine administration (in most states, this will not include IV).

      In this scenario, the LPN would also help the RN with wound care and ADLs (activities of daily living).

      The RN’s responsibilities would include care plans, charting, updating physicians, and IV medication administration.

      The LPN would perform all of the responsibilities listed above in a skilled nursing facility, except for IV drugs.

      Meanwhile, the RN would be in charge of the entire institution and all working LPNs.

      Job Duties of LPN

      Under the direction of an RN or another healthcare professional, LPNs offer basic nursing care.

      The following are examples of LPN responsibilities:

      • Patients’ feeding, dressing, and bathing
      • Patient vital signs, such as temperature and blood pressure, are being monitored
      • Bandages are applied or changed, wounds are cleaned, and catheters are inserted
      • Keeping track of the health of patients
      • Speaking with patients about their feelings and relaying their concerns to other nurse practitioners

      LPNs are trained to provide medication to patients and may pursue extra certification in intravenous insertion and line management as part of their curriculum.

      These methods, however, may differ from one state to the next.

      LPNs should be aware of their scope of practice in their work state.

      LPNs can work in various healthcare settings, including nursing homes, hospitals, home health, and schools, to name a few.

      Job Duties of RN

      RNs provide the majority of nursing care in healthcare facilities.

      Their work description will include all of the LPN responsibilities listed above, as well as the following:

      • Medications are given, blood is drawn, and IV drips are inserted
      • Medical equipment operation and monitoring
      • Collecting lab samples and performing diagnostic tests
      • Educating patients and their families on how to manage their care plan after treatment
      • Creating or assisting with patient care plans
      • To administer and improve care, RN collaborates with doctors, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), and other experts.

      Please keep in mind that this is not a complete or all-inclusive list.

      RNs can also specialize in certain patient demographics or become certified in various specialties.

      Some RNs opt to specialize in neonatal, critical care, leadership, or oncology.

      LPN vs. RN Annual Salary

      LPNs are likely to be paid less than RNs.

      Although LPNs and RNs perform many of the same tasks, RNs often earn more money since they can provide more complex and high-level care and have more education and a broader scope of practice.

      Average earnings in both professions are highly dependent on your degree, experience, and practice location.

      The figure here does not reflect entry-level positions.

      Salary for RNs and LPNs varies depending on specialization and years of experience.

      The more years of experience a nurse has, the more money they will make in most circumstances.

      Nursing specializations in critical care, such as the intensive care unit (ICU), labor and delivery (L&D), emergency department (ED), and the operating room (OR), pay well.

      RNs typically have access to more critical care specialist roles than LPNs.

      LPN Average Salary

      The cost of living in a state and the demand for LPN jobs in that location will affect salaries.

      The average income for an LPN is over $47,500, with a mean hourly average of $23 according to the 2020-2021 Occupational Outlook Handbook (US Bureau of Labor Statistics), with projected job growth of nearly 8% from 2019 to 2030.

      RN Average Salary

      The cost of living in a state and the demand for RN jobs in that location will affect salaries.

      The average income for an RN is over $81,500, with a mean hourly average of $38.5, according to the 2020-2021 Occupational Outlook Handbook (US Bureau of Labor Statistics), with projected job growth of nearly 9% from 2019 to 2030.

      Generally, a registered nurse earns a higher salary than a licensed practical nurse.

      LPN vs. RN Education

      The education required of Licensed Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses differs significantly.

      LPN programs emphasize “doing” skills, whereas RN programs emphasize “doing” and “thinking” skills. On the other hand, LPN programs can be finished in less time and cost less than RN programs.

      To become an LPN or RN, you’ll need to complete post-secondary school and be licensed by your state’s nursing board.

      LPN Education Requirements

      LPNs must complete an authorized practical nursing program, which lasts one to two years on average.

      Graduates receive a certification or an associate’s degree depending on whether the program is a two-year associate degree program or a one-year diploma program.

      Eligible applicants can take the NCLEX-PN after completing an authorized practical nursing program.

      Because LPNs spend less time in nursing school, they typically have more clinical and lab hours and hands-on training.

      Basic nursing and health sciences principles are included in LPN diploma programs, including:

      • Biology
      • Pharmacology
      • Psychology
      • Human development
      • Nursing care for people of all ages

      A supervised clinical care experience is also included in LPN programs.

      An LPN program takes roughly 12 months to finish.

      Many people are attracted to the shorter time frame because it allows dedicated individuals to enter the healthcare sector swiftly.

      Many community or technical colleges offer LPN programs.

      LPN candidates will participate in supervised clinical training as part of their LPN curriculum to obtain hands-on experience.

      Students will take lessons in pharmacology, human anatomy, and biology in addition to nursing subjects.

      LPN programs primarily focus on teaching students how to conduct the tasks required to care for patients.

      Bridge programs are available to LPNs who want to further their professions and receive more responsibility and pay.

      These programs allow for a quicker transition into new nursing responsibilities and certification.

      Transitions from LPN to ADN, CNA to LPN, LPN to RN Online, LPN to BSN, and LPN to RN are covered by bridge programs.

      RN Education Requirements

      The length of time it takes to complete a registered nursing program varies from 18 to 36 months.

      A professional nursing degree is required for RNs.

      The length of the program is determined by the type of Registered Nursing degree sought.

      A BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), an ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing), or a diploma from an accredited nursing program are the most popular professional nursing degree alternatives for an RN.

      It’s vital to remember that a BSN is usually preferable to an ADN or diploma program.

      The average length of a BSN program is four years.

      It takes two to three years to complete an ADN or diploma program.

      Although the three paths differ, they are likely to all focus on clinical and hands-on training and social, behavioral, and physical science classes.

      RN programs will also cover team leadership, legal and ethical issues, research, and pharmacology.

      Generally, RNs can pursue one of three educational paths:

      • A two-year associate’s degree program. These programs are most commonly found at community colleges
      • An RN diploma program. Hospitals offer these types of programs.
      • A bachelor’s degree in nursing is required (BSN). These are usually three- or four-year college or university degree programs.

      Aspiring registered nurses can enroll in pre-licensure BSN programs and complete prerequisites for the first two years and nursing courses for the last two.

      Eligible applicants can take the NCLEX-RN after finishing the program.

      RN programs typically cover the following topics:

      • Mental health, gerontological, or community nursing courses tailored to specific populations
      • Mental health, gerontological, and community nursing courses tailored to specific populations Advanced health assessment skills.
      • Technology and nursing informatics
      • Nursing research and evidence-based nursing competencies
      • Leadership and management (usually BSN level only)

      LPN vs RN Licensing and Certification

      To become licensed, both LPN and RN candidates must pass certain exams.

      Their respective state boards of nursing must license all RNs and LPNs. The following are the stages to getting licensed:

      • Passing a state-authorized nurse training program with an approved curriculum and clinical experience hours
      • Sitting for the exam and passing the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX)
      • Obtaining a state license and paying the required price

      LPN License and Certification

      LPN candidates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination after completing a state-approved and certified Practical Nursing program (NCLEX-PN).

      Candidates who pass the exam will be allowed to work as Licensed Practical Nurse.

      RN License and Certification

      Registered Nurses must complete a state-approved and certified nursing curriculum.

      Candidates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination after completing a program (NCLEX-RN).

      Additionally, some RNs may opt to specialize in areas like critical care, emergency medicine, or labor and delivery.

      This option is usually accessible after a specified number of hours in a specialization, approximately a year.

      How Long it Takes to Become an LPN or RN

      Returning to school to become an LPN usually takes around a year.

      It is possible to become an RN in a variety of ways.

      If you’re new to nursing and don’t have any other degrees, an associate degree will take you around two years, while a bachelor’s degree would take you three to four years.

      Note that both CNAs and non-CNAs are subject to the same estimates.

      Suppose you have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline.

      In that case, you may be able to enroll in an accelerated BSN program (ABSN), which will transfer your general education credits from your previous bachelor’s degree.

      After that, you’d finish your nursing curriculum and gain clinical experience.

      Our ABSN programs in most schools can be completed in as little as 20 months.

      You may be eligible to transfer coursework completed during your previous training program to an RN or BSN bridging school if you already work as a healthcare technician or LPN.

       Bridge programs can assist you in becoming an RN more quickly.


      The roles of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs) are frequently contrasted in the minds of those who are considering a profession in the nursing industry when they are first starting on their journey.

      Although both titles contain the term “nurse,” the jobs they represent within the healthcare business are distinct.

      As we have seen in the preceding comparison, each performs a significant but distinct role in advancing the health of their patients.

      One of the most significant distinctions between LPNs and registered nurses is the level of educational preparation required to perform each job.

      There are numerous aspects to consider while beginning a nursing career, all of which should be considered.

      To determine whether a career path is genuinely the best fit for you, consider the following questions:

      • What kind of income do you require to maintain your chosen standard of living?
      • How soon do you need (or want) to start working in the field? Do you have a certain deadline?
      • Is it good for your current employment prospects to have a shorter education?
      • What types of duties do you want to have in your future career?
      • Are you interested in moving up the career ladder?

      Your responses to these questions should guide your decision-making process.

      The path of becoming a registered nurse is likely the best choice for you if you desire a higher wage, greater autonomy at work, more prospects for career progression, and a broader range of duties than you already have.






      Nurse Beth

      Nurse Beth, Registered nurse (RN). Has more than 10 years of experience helping people get started in their nursing careers. She is an expert and helping people pass their CNA, NCLEX RN, NCLEX PN, HESI A2, and TEAS exams.

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