While LPN can be used as an abbreviation for many things it is most commonly used in the healthcare system in relation to nursing, which we’ll focus on in this topic.
In healthcare LPN stands for licensed practical nurse.
Although the term licensed practical nurse (LPN) is the most popular title for a licensed/certified nurse position it can also be used interchangeably with LVN or licensed vocational nurse, which is used as an alternative in some U.S. states.
Outside of the U.S. however, the terminology for nursing positions may change.
For example in Ontario Canada nurses are referred to as RN’s (registered nurses) and RPN’s (registered practical nurses) based on their education and experience.
In fact an experienced and well trained LPN may supervise or oversee the work of CNA’s and unlicensed assistive personnel due to the fact that they have received additional education and training, however LPN’s do not receive the same level of training as registered nurses and thus may be supervised by experienced RN’s or physicians.
CNA vs LPN (what’s the difference?)
As the name suggests a CNA’s (certified nurse assistant) is responsible for providing LPN’s and RN’s with additional support so that they can spend more time focusing on their own work tasks.
CNA’s can earn their certification in a fairly short amount of time (4 – 16) weeks through a certified CNA program.
The CNA program allows certified nurse assistants to learn how to provide basic medical care to patients under the supervision of a licensed healthcare professional such as an LPN or RN.
Training may be taught through a variety of educational institutes such as the American Red Cross, community colleges, technical/vocational schools and online courses.
LPN’s on the other hand may receive 1 – 2 years of education in order to prepare them for a higher role with additional responsibilities that require advanced training.
LPN vs RN (whats the difference?)
There are a number of difference between LPN’s and RN’s, however the largest difference between the two has to do with education and training.
LPN’s generally receive 1 – 2 years of educational training to prepare them for roles as nurses in areas related to bedside care and basic patient care.
The training LPN’s receive allow them to manage basic day to day patient care that does not require extensive medical care.
Registered nurses receive higher level education and training through a 2 year associates or 4 year bachelors program with additional prerequisite requirements that must be passed before entering an RN (registered nurse) program.
registered nurses who earn a BSN (bachelors of science in nursing) degree will be prepared to work in more specialized roles in healthcare and will be able to work in a wider variety of fields in hospitals, healthcare centers and emergency care facilities.
Additionally registered nurses may choose to further their education and earn an MSN (masters of science in nursing) or DNP (doctor of nursing practice), which will allow them to become nurse practitioners, teachers and educators where they can perform at the highest level of nursing and education.
While attending an LPN program students receive training and education on appropriate medical care to patients who are often bedside and/or unable to provide basic self care.
During the LPN program students will learn about anatomy, physiology, nutrition, first-aid and nursing among other important related curriculum.
Many schools will also train their students through supervised clinical practice in order to prepare them for their role as an LPN.
In most cases LPN’s may choose to participate in a 1 year certification/diploma program or a 2 year associates degree.
Students who wish to perform in higher level positions may go on to earn a bachelors of science in nursing degree, however these programs are not always offered by schools that participate in the LPN program.
LPN’s may choose to join an LPN to RN/BSN bridge program where they can transition from a licensed practical nurse background into a registered nursing career, which can open up many new opportunities for career growth and flexibility.
For students who want to quickly enter the nursing field and move up the ladder obtaining a 1 year certification may be the way to go.
While working as an LPN students may be able to continue their education and earn either their associates degree as an LPN or transition into a bachelors degree as a registered nurse.
LPN’s may be found working in home healthcare, community care and outpatient care centers where they provide basic medical care to patients that are either suffering from a debilitating medical condition or are unable to provide proper care for themselves.
LPN’s may assist patients by monitoring and recording their vital signs, helping them get in/out of bed, assisting patients with getting dressed and fed, assisting patients with showering or cleaning,providing medication, dressing wounds, educating patients about proper care and providing care to infants or children.
Aside from caring for patients LPN’s must also be acutely aware of taking proper precautions when cleaning or handling potentially harmful materials.
This involves maintaining a sanitary environment, properly handling bedpans and other soiled materials, taking precautions when addressing wounds or open sores, use proper safety equipment when washing or bathing patients and following proper sanitary guidelines when handling others to prevent the spreading of germs both to and from the patient.
As mentioned earlier experienced LPN’s may be able to move into higher level positions that focus on managerial and educational roles, however without a registered nursing degree (BSN) their opportunities for moving into higher specialized nursing roles may be limited, however as the healthcare field continues to expand growand more people begin to retire the existing career opportunities, salaries and career stability for valuable LPN’s will also see a positive growth trend.