A good friend of mine recently graduated from nursing school and started working at a hospital. When others asked me about her position at the hospital, I’d tell people she was a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), which resulted in some confusion because most people don’t realize that the term “nurse” is just a general profession within which nurses are involved with different practices and ranks. Nurses can range from being a Registered Nurse (RNs), Surgical Assistant Nurse, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthetists, LPNs and many more.
Licensed Practical Nurses provide essential care to patients and act as an aid to RNs and physicians in hospital and clinical settings. They are required to keep clear records regarding each patient they are assigned to and have immediate contact with the RN’s assigned to those patients. LPNs work as the main caregiver to patients admitted in hospitals alongside CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants). In other words, they are the middle contact between CNAs and RNs. They are responsible for setting a feeding, bathing, and physical recovery schedule for patients post surgery. Sometimes, LPNs also work in home health and hospice care outside of hospitals.
Skills and traits that a Licensed Practical Nurse should possess
Empathy is a very important trait for any career. However, being a nurse demands this quality far more than other professions due to the nature of their daily high stress job. Patients will constantly require your help, even with basic things such as eating, washing, standing up, etc. Families of these patients will need your empathy during their emotionally difficult time and you are required to balance your own emotions during these situations. Patience and empathy is part of providing holistic care to patients.
As an LPN, you will also need to have excellent communication skills because the entire medical team relies on it to function properly. You will also need to facilitate or act as a mediator between doctors and patients or their families. Aspiring LPNs should love sharing knowledge and have the patience to answer questions which might get repeated over and over again.
Finally, basic knowledge of healthcare is a beneficial skill, especially CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) knowledge. This is a skill everyone in a medical staff must have, even CNAs. It ensures patient safety regardless of a doctor’s presence.
Types of Nurses
Are you still confused about the differences between a CNA, LPN and RN? You’re not alone. Even people who work in the healthcare industry tend to get confused about the different types of nurses involved in a medical team. Here are the key differences between a CNA and LPN followed by the key differences between an RN and an LPN.
CNA vs. LPN:
You can become a CNA by obtaining a certificate online. The courses provided for CNA training are easily accessible online and most CNAs don’t go to an official school or college to become one. A high school diploma or GED certification is enough to qualify you to apply for a CNA certification. To become an LPN, however, you must attend classes offered by community colleges or technical/trade schools. Your courses are more focused on hands-on training in patient care and/or medicine. Along with that, LPNs are required to earn a license by passing the nursing exam called the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination).
Your duties as an LPN differ from CNAs because of your education. LPNs are better trained in patient care due to their hands-on courses which gives them some seniority over CNAs for patient care in hospitals. LPNs are expected to have more administrative and medical duties than CNAs which could range from lab samples, medical dosages, administering vaccines, etc., while CNAs are responsible for the communication aspect of patient care such as phone calls, checking in on patient recovery, lab specimen drop-offs, etc.
RN vs. LPN:
While both types of nurses are required to attend classes, LPNs have an entirely different curriculum. Their education is completed faster than that of RNs and their courses are more practical (testing physical skills) rather than intellectual (testing book based knowledge). LPN education also costs less since there are fewer courses to be taken. Both nurses, however, must pass the NCLEX with RNs expected to take an additional portion of the exam.
LPNs work under the management of RNs. Their job is to be the first person RNs, or sometimes physicians, assign any work to. While RNs are occupied with doctor’s orders or administrative tasks tied to admitting and discharging patients, LPNs work as a substitute to their respective RNs. Many times if a CNA is not available, LPNs will be asked to take over their hospital duties as well – making LPNs essential to the medical team since they can work fluidly in their given roles.
Below is a national average salary comparison for the different types of nurses:
California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Alaska – in that order – are the five highest paying states (for nurses) in the country. An average LPN salary in California is $63k annually. Working as an LPN also offers benefits other than monetary. It gives you a path to work up and become an RN or an OR nurse or even possibilities to go to medical school and become a doctor. Nurse Anesthetists are the highest paid nurses – who started their career as CNAs or LPNs. Working in any hospital or clinical setting is a great way to enhance communication, practical, and academic skills but LPNs, especially, get a taste of working with patients and with doctors. Furthermore, you get benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, overtime, opportunities to travel, networking, and a fulfilling career.
Should you become a Licensed Practical Nurse?
If the above information stimulated your interest in a nursing career, you should look into getting started with courses and licensing to become an LPN. If you already have a license and are looking for jobs near you, Gigzio is here to help! There are several opportunities an LPN can explore other than just working in a hospital. Searching for your desired job on Gigzio’s platform will allow you to come across many different job offers in the nursing field such as travel nursing, remote nursing, telehealth nursing, private practice openings, and many more.