CNA, LPN, and RN Certifications: What’s the Difference?

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Thinking about changing careers? Interested in the healthcare field?

Nursing can be a worthwhile and rewarding career choice. But you may have realized one thing after starting your research.

The nursing universe can be vast and confusing.

What exactly is the difference between a CNA and a RN? Where do they work? What’s the average pay like? What specialty programs are out there? Where should I obtain my degree?

The questions can go on and on.

At CNA Certification & Training we’ve created an infographic to help with the confusion. The entire graphic can be seen at:

RN Certification

For today’s guest post we wanted to focus on one of the most common questions we receive:

“What’s the difference between a LPN and a RN?”

Let’s start with a LPN, or Licensed Practical Nurse.

To obtain your license as a LPN, you must first finish an accredited program, and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination, otherwise known as the NCLEX-PN.

LPNs can work in a variety of different settings. The most common range from schools, hospitals, clinics, in home care, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, urgent care clinics, correctional facilities, and medical offices.

The daily tasks of a Licensed Practical Nurse can range from:

  • Taking vitals
  • Assessing patients and recording the findings
  • Collecting samples (stool, blood, etc.)
  • Administering medications
  • Charting medical records
  • Performing CPR

They certainly don’t stop there, but those tend to be the most common daily practices.

The average median income of an LPN in the United States in May 2013 was $41,540. Luckily the trends in employment for LPN’s is projected to rise by 25% over the next 7 years.

Moving onto the RNs, or Registered Nurses.

To obtain your degree as a registered nurse you must have a minimum training of two years from an academic institution. The degrees vary from Associates degree all the way to Doctorate. RNs must also pass an examination, but for them it’s the NCLEX-RN.

The majority of RNs obtain a BSN or Bachelor’s degree.
The BSN includes a focus on social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking.

The settings a RN can find themselves working in ranges from hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, camps, schools, correctional facilities, patient’s homes, large companies, and the armed forces.

The typical duties of a Registered Nurse are:

  • Record symptoms and medical history of patients
  • Administer medication and treatment
  • Tend to wounds
  • Assess patients
  • Record findings
  • Run diagnostic tests
  • Organize plans for the patients’ care

As of May, 2013, the average median salary of a registered nurse in the United States was projected to be $65,470. RNs are also expecting an upward trend in employment over the next 7 years. Although the rate of growth in jobs is expected to be lower than LPNs it’s still expected to be around 19%.

Registered nurses can also have the ability to specialize in different specialty fields. These range from nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, dermatology nurse, etc.

image via Flickr
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