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Licensed Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses both provide important patient care services and are critical to the delivery of quality healthcare. These two important professions differ in the following key ways:

Education level: Licensed Practical Nurses typically graduate from a 2-year LPN program. These accredited programs are usually found at community or vocational colleges. These programs offer anatomy and physiology and introductory pharmacology courses in addition to their core nursing education. Registered Nurses typically have either an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelors degree although many hospitals are requiring at least a bachelor’s degree for hiring purposes. The registered nurse has successfully taken, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, biology, microbiology as well as their core nursing curriculum. The Registered Nurse and Licensed practical nurse will need to pass their state board exams, NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN, respectively.

Job Duties: Licensed Practical Nurses are responsible for administering oral medications, obtaining/charting vital signs, and patient care tasks such as toileting, blood sugar checks, and assisting with activities of daily living. Registered Nurses are responsible for assessing patients, administering IV and oral medications, starting IVs, patient education, coordination of care with physicians and other health care professionals and more.

Career outlook and advancement According to, there is a projected 9% increase in LPNs from now through 2029 compared with a 7% projected increase in RNs over the same time period. These numbers are in response to an increase in projected need and demand for these healthcare professionals. LPNs are able to effectively move between different work environments and may also have the opportunity to transition from LPN to RN through a bridge program.

RNs have a unique opportunity to shift their careers into different sectors of the economy, both within healthcare and outside of it. RNs also have excellent opportunities to advance their career through furthering their education such as obtaining their BSN, MSN, or DNP. While there are important differences and distinctions between these two career paths, the bottom line is that both RNs and LPNs are critical to the delivery of quality healthcare and these skilled professionals will be in high demand for the foreseeable future.


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