Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) are just two of the many acronyms used to describe nursing careers. There are many different levels in nursing. If you’re considering going into this type of career, you should know the different options.
When you look at LVN vs LPN, you will have a better understanding of what each is and offers. Let’s define them both, and then look at how they are different.
What is an LVN?
LVN stands for Licensed Vocational Nurse. LVN nursing is described by Pacific-College.edu in this way, “under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs), LVNs deliver quality care and comfort measures to patients.”
An LVN will perform many basic care and assistance duties, along with clinical responsibilities. They often work in hospitals, long-term care institutions, and doctors’ facilities.
What is an LPN?
According to Nurse.org, “licensed Practical Nurses are nurses that perform basic patient care tasks and help to keep patients comfortable. They work under the supervision of Registered Nurses (RNs) and other medical professionals.”
An LPN will be responsible for offering essential care for patients. This may include things, such as helping them get dressed, helping patients eat, bathing patients, and other necessary duties.
LVN vs LPN: The Key Differences
There really isn’t a huge difference between an LVN and an LPN. The main difference is where they will practice nursing. There are only two states that use the title LVN, which are California and Texas. Outside of these two states, the rest use the title LPN.
Along with this minor difference, there may also be small differences in job duties from one state to another. Some states will allow practical nurses to handle giving patients medication, while others won’t. It’s even possible, in some states, for practical nurses to administer intravenous drips.
All LVNs and LPNs will work under a registered nurse (RN) and physicians. They will have to pass the NCLEX-PN before they can work as a nurse.
Skills Necessary to a Successful LVN or LPN
The skills you need to become an LVN or LPN include:
- Stamina – Nursing is a physical job where you will spend most of your day on your feet. You will move from one patient to another and you may need to physically assist your patients. If you don’t have good physical stamina, you will struggle in this position.
- Empathy – As an LPN or LVN, you will work with many patients going through a difficult time. They may be struggling with medical issues that cause them not to be able to do things on their own. Empathy is a key skill you will need to be successful as an LVN or LPN.
- Communication – LVNs and LPNs need to be able to communicate with both patients and RNs. They will need to communicate the type of care necessary and work with their supervising RN.
- Organization – An organized person will be successful as an LVN or LPN. This is a career that requires keeping accurate records and providing updates for supervisors.
If you want to become an LVN or LPN, these skills are vital to your success. They might be able to be developed through training, but most are skills you either have or you don’t, such as empathy.
Frequently Asked Questions About LVNs and LPNs
What does an LPN do?
An LPN will handle many different responsibilities including:
- Changing wound dressings and bandages
- Inserting catheters
- Assisting with procedures and tests
- Monitor vital signs and the overall condition of the patient
- Taking histories of patients and documenting any care given
- Consulting with RNs about care plans
- Providing hygiene care for patients
These are very similar, if not the same, duties that an LVN will take on, as well. Both are pretty much the same and will do basically the same thing.
Where will an LVN or an LPN Work?
An LVN will work in the same facilities as an LPN, but they will work in Texas or California. Both will commonly work in the following facilities:
- Rehabilitation centers
- Physician offices
It’s not uncommon for LPNs to work as traveling nurses, too. However, this gets a bit trickier with the necessary licensing they may need in some states.
What Type of Education is Necessary to Become an LVN or LPN?
The education is going to be pretty much the same for both. You will need to complete high school or get a GED. Then, you will need to enroll in an LVN or LPN program. Usually, these programs are offered at a technical school or a community college.
Most education programs for LVNs and LPNs will last at least one year. You will attend classes and you will also go through supervised clinical instruction.
How do I get a License to Work as an LVN or LPN?
If you’re applying to become an LVN in Texas or California, you will need to pass the NCLEX-PN. This is the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses. It’s an entry-level exam used in every state. The same exam is used for LPNs in other states.
Once you have completed an LVN or LPN program and passed the NCLEX-PN, you will be able to practice as a practical nurse.
How Much Do LVNs and LPNs Make?
According to Salary.com, the annual salary range for LVNs is $41K to $61K. The median salary comes in at just under $50K per year.
Indeed.com shows the average annual salary for an LPN at about $53K per year. They also show LPNs earning just under $8K per year in overtime pay.
The salaries for both LVNs and LPNs are very similar. They tend to be a bit higher with top employers and in some specific locations. With experience, it’s also possible to earn a higher salary.
LVNs and LPNs are basically the same things. LVNs work in Texas and California, while LPNs work in all the other states. If you want to become a practical nurse, you will need the right education and licensing, regardless of which state you work in.