Regardless of the never-ending argument on which program is better, licensed practical nursing (LPN) or registered nursing (RN), there is no denying that both are integral to the health care industry. Currently, there is a shortage of nursing staff to fill in the nurse-to-patients standard ratio of 1:4 or 1:5. Most work under the ratio of 1:8 or 1:10, which significantly decreases the quality of nursing care received by the patients or clients. Added to this is the ever increasing population of elderly, which needs a large workforce to supply their complex and varied health needs.
These situations make nurses both RN and LPN a vital component of the medical field. If you are currently in a situation where you are having a hard time in deciding whether to take the path of the RN or LPN program, this article will serve as a good resource to your finding the answer to your dilemma.
Here are some of the notable differences between the two:
1) Cost of study. Getting an education beyond high school is no joke especially with the economic recession in place. If you are considering entering the field of nursing, or any field for that matter, you have to first consider the cost. You would not want to have unexpected delays to the completion of the program just because of a budget oversight. Typically the average cost to becoming an LPN is between $3,000 to $4,000 dollars depending on the state while becoming an RN would entail a higher cost of $7,000 to $8,000 dollars. This is largely because of the number of years it takes to become an LPN which is about one to one and a half years as opposed to the two to three years of the RN program.
2) Courses taken. Many of the medical related subjects taken by both the LPNs and RNs are quite the same such as anatomy and physiology, developmental psychology, nursing diagnoses, and many others. Both also require hands on training in field situations to enhance their skills. However, RNs taken additional courses such as those involving theory and administration to better equip them in filling the supervisory role.
3) Scope of practice. One of the major differences between being an LPN and RN is the scope of practice which has also served as a point of origin of the many debates of which of the two programs is best. LPNs are tasked to cater to the direct care of the patients and clients under the supervision of the RN. Registered nurses, on the other hand, although also perform direct care but occupy a more supervisory position. Simply put, LPNs have a more dependent role while nurses have a more independent position.
By considering the above factors, you will be able to arrive at the best decision of whether to take the RN or LPN path. However, if you are tight on the budget, you would want to consider taking the LPN program and proceed to RN if you already have the means. You can earn more to pay for your educational expenses by enrolling in an online program which allows you more control of your time.