ADVICE

Aspiring nurse? Here’s the difference between LVN and LPN roles

SOURCE: Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP
Influencing the demand for licensed nurses in two key ways is the ageing baby boom population.


By Shekinah Kannan 

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Nurses are among the healthcare professionals who are on the frontline of the pandemic. They, along with other medical professionals, are playing an active role in the fight against COVID-19.

Nurses also serve as the backbone of the medical industry; their responsibilities range from helping with a variety of medical procedures, tend to sick patients, assist physicians, deliver babies and fill in the gaps wherever else they need to.

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To join them, licensure is important. After all, nursing is a profession that can cause serious public harm if practised incorrectly, which is why it needs to be regulated by respective governments. Licensing is the process that makes regulation possible. However, choosing one isn’t simple while the abbreviations of different licenses — think LPN, LVN, and RN — can make anyone’s head spin.

The most common mix up is the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) vs. the Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). 

LPN vs. LVN: What’s the difference?

The major difference between an LPN and LVN is where these title holders practice nursing. States such as California and Texas use the title “LVN” while the rest of the US uses the title “LPN”.

Depending on the state, the responsibilities of LPNs and LVNs may differ regardless of title. For example, some states allow LPNs to provide medication to patients while others do not. However, both LPNs and LVNs work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs).

Essentially, they are responsible for the most basic care provided to patients. Fundamental  care revolves around catering to a patient’s comfort, as well as aiding in their recovery and recuperation.

LPNs and LVNs work in many settings, including nursing homes and extended care facilities, hospitals, physicians’ offices, and private homes. Most work full-time.

They also both need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) exam, which is administered by individual State Boards of Nursing. 

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Regardless of which state these professionals choose to add value in, career prospects are stellar across the US. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of LPNs and LVNs will grow nine percent from 2019 to 2029 much faster than the average for all occupations. 

They add that as the baby-boom population ages, the overall need for healthcare services is expected to increase. LPNs and LVNs will be needed in residential care facilities and in home health environments to care for older patients, said the BLS.