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Once you’ve made the decision to pursue a career in nursing it’s time to take the first steps. For many nurses that first step is choosing between LPN and CNA careers. Although both of these positions involve patient-centered care, they are not as similar as you may believe.

There are many different types of nursing careers available to those who are called to the “nurse life”. The biggest difference among these myriad choices tends to be education. The higher the degree (BSN, MSN, for example) the larger the investment in time and money and the longer it will take you to begin caring for patients in a medical facility environment.

Choosing between LPN or CNA careers allows you to begin your nursing career much sooner. For those who are called to patient care and the field of nursing it makes sense to begin by pursuing a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Certified Nursing Assistant. Though you will need to spend time going to school, depending on your current educational status, the time may be significantly shorter than pursuing a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) or MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) degree.

Making the Choice Between LPN or CNA Careers

There are differences in LPN and CNA as well. To begin with, CNA’s are not nurses in the true sense. They are nursing assistants and instrumental in patient care and management, however their duties are limited to basic patient care, such as taking vitals, lifting and transporting, bathing, feeding and helping patients get dressed.

LPN’s are nurses. As such their duties are centered on more medical patient care, such as changing wound dressing, monitoring vitals, inserting catheters and working alongside RN’s as part of a team. LPN’s may also be requested when a patient needs assistance in basic hygiene, dressing or eating.

Skills Needed Between LPN or CNA Careers

Both CNA and LPN call on a specific skillset. As you make the choice between LPN or CNA careers you should examine the skills necessary to each job and determine which suits your abilities the best:

CNA

Patient Care
Vital Signs Measurement
Assist with Daily Living
CPR
Patient Direction
Treatment Planning
Scheduling
Transfer and Transport of Patient
Life Support

LPN

CPR
Patient Care
Treatment Planning
Home Health
Supervisory Skills
Patient and Caregiver Education and Instruction
Administer Meds
Scheduling
Vital Signs Measurement
Teaching

Education and Outlook Between LPN or CNA Careers

When you are choosing between LPN or CNA careers it’s wise to weigh these differences and take your time. Here is a comparison between the two careers in education involved, projected income, growth potential, and certification/licensure requirements:

CNA

Education typically involves an approximately-12 week program, usually at a community college or technical training school. You’ll have both classroom and clinical demands, learning basic anatomy, physiology, nutrition and basic patient care as part of the program. You will need a high school diploma or GED.

Upon completion of your program you’ll be provided with a certificate. You will then need to pursue a license according to your state’s regulations.

The job growth predicted for CNA’s in the next 10 years is pretty high-17% compared to 7% general job growth prediction. On average CNA’s can expect to earn around $26,000.00 annually.

LPN

Education to become an LPN involves a diploma or certificate in nursing. This can be obtained through an approximately- year long program at a college. You’ll learn the basics of anatomy, physiology, nutrition, patient care, and some more specialized courses pertinent to the program.

Once you’ve graduated from the LPN program you’ll be required to take the NCLEX-PN exam before being issued a license.

Job outlook for LPN’s is excellent. Over the next 10 years the need for LPN’s is expected to grow by 16%. The average earnings for Licensed Practical Nurses is around $44,000.00

Between LPN or CNA careers there is tremendous potential for growth. In either instance you can return to the classroom to earn a higher degree. Once you’ve had the experience of providing patient care in a healthcare facility you may decide to go further and you’ll likely be a quick study given your on-the-job-training.

LPN or CNA Careers Are Both Exciting

Entering into the nursing field is exciting, but requires a large amount of dedication on your part. Patient care can be somewhat stressful and choosing between LPN or CNA shouldn’t be taken lightly. Review the differences and use the information to make an informed decision. Perhaps discuss your thoughts with those in the field as well. Once you decide between LPN or CNA careers you’re on your way to an exciting future, no matter the choice.

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