The Difference Between LPNs and RNs
Kathy Quan | NursingLink
There is a growing trend to distinguish RNs as “professional nurses” and LPNs as “technical nurses.” Some argue that nursing will never be a true profession until all nurses have a BSN or above, and that leaves LPNs high and dry.
Making the BSN a minimal educational requirement for all nurses has long been discussed, but the nursing shortage has always found a way to interfere with this goal. Fewer RNs on the market has lead to an increase in the number of LPNs being hired, stalling the process of demanding a BSN for all nurses.
However, many employers are now demanding new hires have both experience and a BSN education. In fact, newly graduated nurses are having trouble finding jobs because older and more experienced nurses are delaying retirement or returning to the workforce, if retired. New nurses who do land a job often have a BSN or higher degree.
Furthermore, studies over the last few decades prove that when the majority of the nursing staff is BSN-educated, patient care and outcomes are greatly improved, including a decrease in mortality. And when the entire staff has a BSN degree or higher, the results are even more improved. This is not to fault nurses who have less education, rather, it just points out that the level of knowledge and skill has an impact on patient care.
Nursing is a hierarchy of licensure based on skills and education, but no role should ever be taken for granted or deemed less of a nurse as far as the art of nursing goes. This is why, to address varying needs and concerns, there are segmented roles such as CNAs, LPNs, RNs, and advance practice RNs. They all come together to take care of the patient, working as a team.
It’s insulting to hear “Oh you’re just a nurse.” Likewise, LPNs are not “just LPNs.” They do more than take vitals, give bed baths and back rubs, and change linens; they are life-savers to RNs when things get stressful and hectic. Although their license limits what they may do, LPNs are a very important part of the team. Training, education, experience — all of that is secondary when you work together for the patient’s health.
Nurses are said to “eat their young,” as older, more experienced professionals challenge the incoming of new nurses. Let’s not “eat” each other as well! Nursing is not about what license you hold, what education you have, and who does their job better, but about providing the best quality of care possible and making a difference for the patient. It should not be about rivalry for respect and attention. We all need to get past this rivalry and work together to provide quality healthcare for all.