Just as there are differences in the duties expected of-and allowed-between LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses) and RNs (Registered Nurses), so are there differences in the available jobs. When working with a job board you will see the jobs seem to be more heavily weighted toward those nurses with RN status. LPNs and RNs perform some of the same duties, but RNs are allowed, by law, to delve a bit further into patient care.
But while there are more available jobs for RNs, an LPN can still find a good deal of work through a job board. The difference between LPNs and RNs is primarily educational. The duties and demands are unique to each position and the qualities brought to the job are specific. As the need for healthcare professionals grows with the aging population, LPNs and RNs bring their own particular sets of skills to the job.
Comparing LPNs and RNs
LPNs and RNs differ in more ways than just the initials on their badges. First there is the difference in education. An LPN can obtain a license and begin work after roughly one year of nursing education. Depending on the state in which you’re licensed, you may be required to obtain a two year associate’s degree. Once you’ve completed the program to become an LPN you will be required to pass the NCLEX-PN exam to gain licensure.
An RN will have the minimum of a two or three year diploma, however many RNs today will have completed a bachelor’s degree as a minimum. Much more is expected of an RN beyond basic patient care so the more education you have the more likely you are to find employment. In order to become an employable RN you must first pass the exam (NCLEX-RN) and obtain your license.
The workplace setting will differ between LPNs and RNs as well. For LPNs a job in a long-term care facility offers the best opportunities for advancing. In these settings LPNs are frequently called upon to supervise those nursing assistants who perform the most basic duties in the facility.
RNs work more often in hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices. These facilities are typically seeking RNs who have had a specific field of study, or specialty. Sometimes, especially in smaller facilities, no specialty is required beyond licensure.
Duties of the Job
The duties of LPNs and RNs are also different. While both LPNs and RNs are expected to provide, and are adept at, patient care, LPN duties are usually observed or monitored by an RN. These duties include assisting the patient with bathing and dressing, feeding and caring for infants, taking vitals, starting IVs, help with wound care, and monitoring the patient.
The duties of an RN provide opportunity for a greater impact on the patient’s health and recovery. Among those duties, an RN will administer medication, start IVs, perform diagnostics, prep the patient for surgery and procedures, maintain patient records, and report on the patient to their physician.
What LPNs and RNs Can Do to Find Available Jobs
Obviously the earning potential of an RN is greater than that of an LPN, so it makes sense that the “better jobs”, i.e. higher paying, would go to registered nurses. Although there are a good many available jobs in healthcare facilities with primarily elderly patients, and LPNs can find work in medical arenas ranging from hospitals to long-term care facilities, and in home health. As an LPN you can even find work as a travel nurse, exploring different areas of the country and dipping your toes into those specialties you may not have thought about.
RNs may find more available jobs on the job board, however they may be a bit more specialized. Many hospitals are looking for RNs with a BSN degree over the two-, or three-year program. You may want to consider the educational opportunities open to you for advancing your degree.
Give yourself the edge with the job board by making sure your resume is always up-to-date. Make sure you’re certification is current. Open yourself up to all shifts, days, nights, weekends, and let your recruiter know. Check in with your recruiter often to find out what you can do to further your opportunity for employment. LPNs and RNs who are willing and ready to work are the ones who will get the jobs.
LPNs and RNs Are Both in Demand
Nursing is a worthy vocation and patient care is a career to which only the best are called. No matter your level of education in nursing you will find opportunities on the job board. If you’re an LPN considering obtaining your RN degree contact your nearest nursing school and ask if there are special programs to help expedite your advancement to becoming an RN.
As the patient population grows throughout the country healthcare professionals are in demand. Employment opportunities in hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing homes, assisted living centers, and doctors offices will only grow. Advanced degrees will always be in slightly higher demand and expanding your education is never a bad idea. LPNs and RNs differ in many ways, but both nurses are dedicated to patient care and called to be nurses.