Without a doubt, nursing is a profession for those committed to making a difference in people’s lives. Every professional hour is dedicated to helping the sick and injured, and those patients often view their nurses as guardian angels in scrubs during some of the toughest moments of their lives.
But for those dedicated individuals looking to head back to school and join the ever-expanding field of nursing, there’s another big decision to make: becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN).
But what is the major difference between these two amazing, impactful careers? Below we’ll break down a few of the major differentiators between an LPN program and an RN program to help you make the right choice for your future.
Registered Nurses in CT Have More Job Responsibility
In Connecticut, the role of a licensed practical nurse is defined as performing selected tasks and sharing responsibility under the direction of a registered nurse or advanced practice registered nurse. They collaborate with licensed professionals (usually an RN) to provide basic hands-on care that helps improve the health of generally stable patients, according to the CT League of Nursing.
A registered nurse, meanwhile, is capable of diagnosing patients’ responses to health problems and may develop plans of care for those patients. They can evaluate how patients’ illnesses and injuries affect them, and can identify and help those who are at risk for a variety of health conditions. Of course, RN’s also provide hands-on care, and typically care for patients who are in unstable condition or whose needs are more complex than those patients cared for by an LPN.
Availability and Demand for RN Jobs is Growing
With their increased skills and responsibilities, job opportunities abound for registered nurses. Because they do not have to work under the supervision of other nurses, like LPNs, RNs are able to work in any hospital in the state. And demand is growing for registered nurses in numerous outpatients care centers. And with recent federal healthcare reforms, the number of individuals looking for healthcare services is also expected to increase. Nursing continues to be one of the most in-demand and stable fields to work in, and employment of registered nurses is projected to grow a whopping 19 percent by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There will continue to be more demand for registered nurses in CT.
RNs Earn Higher Salaries than LPNs
Because RNs undergo more schooling and see increased job responsibilities, their salaries are generally significantly higher than their LPN counterparts. As of May 2012, registered nurses were earning a median annual salary of $65,470, compared to the $41,540 median annual salary earned by an LPN, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
An RN Program Can Be a Stepping Stone
For those who wish to further their nursing careers, earning a bachelor’s degree with an RN to BSN can provide even further job opportunities. An LPN who wishes to pursue these further career opportunities must first become an RN.
Pursuing an LPN Program Can Take Less Time than an RN Program
Of course, the additional job skill required of a registered nurse means that a registered nursing program is more intensive and can take more time to complete than becoming a licensed practical nurse. An LPN program can take anywhere from 12-16 months, whereas Goodwin College’s registered nursing program can take 18 months to complete, not including general education prerequisite courses.
No matter what you decide for your future nursing career, you’re sure to make a difference in the lives of CT residents!