Defining What LPN Stands For | Explanation and Meaning

In short, LPN stands for the licensed practical nurse.

LPN is an abbreviation for many different things. However, healthcare use LPN to describe a particular nursing position. 

The term licensed practical nurse (LPN) is the most popular for a licensed/certified nurse position.

However, the LVN (Licensed vocational nurse) is used interchangeably with LPN in some US states.

Outside of the US, the specification for LPNs and other nursing positions vary.

For example, some nurses are referred to as RNs (registered nurses) in Ontario, Canada.

However, they also use RPNs (registered practical nurses) to define nurses with different education and experience levels.

An LPN (licensed practical nurse) does possess a nursing license.

Nevertheless, they should not be confused with CNA (certified nurse assistant) or an RN (registered nurse).

An experienced and well-trained LPN may supervise or oversee the work of CNAs and unlicensed assistive personnel.

Their additional education and training enable them to make more complex bedside care decisions.

However, LPNs do not receive the same level of training as registered nurses and thus may be supervised by experienced RNs or physicians.

CNA vs. LPN (What’s The Difference?)

As the name suggests, a CNA (certified nurse assistant) is responsible for providing LPNs and RNs with additional support to spend more time focusing on their work tasks.

CNAs can earn their certification in a relatively short time (4 – 16) weeks through a certified CNA program.

The CNA program allows certified nurse assistants to learn how to provide primary medical care.

These professionals work under the supervision of a licensed healthcare professional such as an LPN or RN.

Various educational institutes provide LPN training.

It includes the American Red Cross, community colleges, technical/vocational schools, and online courses.

On the other hand, LPNs receive 1 – 2 years of education.

It prepares them for more elevated roles with additional responsibilities that require advanced training.

LPN vs. RN | What’s the Difference?

There are numerous differences between LPNs and RNs.

However, the most significant distinction between the two is education and training.

LPNs generally receive 1 – 2 years of training to prepare them for bedside and primary patient care nursing roles.

It enables them to manage primary day-to-day patient care that does not require extensive medical care.

Registered nurses receive higher-level education and training through a 2-year associate’s or 4-year bachelor’s program with additional prerequisite requirements before entering an RN (registered nurse) program.

Registered nurses who earn a BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) degree have more specialized roles.

These registered nurses operate in various fields in hospitals, healthcare centers, and emergency care facilities.

Additionally, registered nurses may further their education and earn an MSN (master of science in nursing) or DNP (doctor of nursing practice).

It allows them to become advanced practice registered nurses.

Advanced practice registered nurses work in four distinct specializations.

It includescertified nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists.

At this level, nurses have the broadest scope of practice.

For instance, they can prescribe medications, diagnose conditions and act as primary care providers.

They can also work as educators and instructors and take high-level leadership positions.

Academic background

While attending an LPN program, students receive basic training and education on bedside care.

It enables them to administer proper medical care to bedside patients and those unable to provide essential self-care.

Students learn anatomy, physiology, nutrition, first-aid, and nursing during the LPN program.

They also learn other critical curricula to ensure patients receive adequate bedside care.

Many schools also train students through supervised clinical practice to prepare them for LPN positions.

In most cases, LPNs may choose to participate in a 1-year certification/diploma program or a 2-year associate’s degree.

Students who wish to perform in higher-level positions may earn a bachelor of science in nursing.

However, schools participating in the LPN program don’t always offer BSN degrees.

LPNs may join an LPN to RN/BSN bridge program to transition from licensed practical nurses to registered nurses.

Receiving a BSN opens up many new career opportunities and flexibility opportunities.

For students who want to enter the nursing field and quickly move up the ladder, a 1-year certification may be beneficial.

While working as an LPN, students can continue their education and earn their associate’s degree as an LPN.

Alternatively, students may decide to transition into a bachelor’s degree to become registered nurses.

Professional Background

LPNs work in hospitals, nursing homes, community centers, and outpatient care facilities.

They provide primary care to patients with medical conditions or those who cannot supply themselves with proper care.

LPNs assist patients by monitoring and recording their vital signs.

They also help patients get in/out of bed, get dressed and fed, and assist patients with showering or cleaning.

Finally, LPNs provide medication, dress wounds, educate patients about proper care, and provide primary care to infants or children.

Besides caring for patients, LPNs must take proper precautions when cleaning or handling potentially harmful materials.

These Precautions Include:

  • Maintaining a sanitary environment
  • Properly handling bedpans and other soiled materials
  • Taking precautions when addressing wounds or open sores
  • Using proper safety equipment when washing or bathing patients
  • Following clean guidelines when managing patients to prevent the spreading of germs

LPNs may move into higher-level positions focusing on managerial and educational roles, as previously mentioned.

However, moving into prominent specialized nursing professions is limited without a registered nursing degree (BSN).

Nevertheless, LPNs will see positive job growth regarding career opportunities, salaries, and job stability.

It results from an ever-growing population, nursing shortages, educational limitations, and a retiring nursing community.