Nurses are the backbone of patient-centered care, but there are many different kinds. Certified nursing assistants (CNA), licensed practical nurses (LPN), registered nurses (RN), and other advanced practice nurses all bring value to both healthcare entities and patients’ experiences in healthcare facilities.
Some people start out their career as a CNA and take classes slowly to earn more advanced credentials. Others pursue RN status immediately. No matter your journey, you can pursue more advanced degrees to propel your career forward—you just have to figure out what your goals are and which program you’d like to participate in!
Registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nursing assistants all have highly demanded skills, but their privileges and abilities differ. Here are the main differences between RNs, LPNs, and CNAs.
LPNs and RNs rely on CNAs to help bridge gaps in patient care when they’re busy with clinical needs that require licensure. CNAs often help patients complete activities of daily living, like attending to hygiene needs. They can also change dressings, feed patients, maintain clean patient rooms, and help patients who lack mobility.
A CNA can’t perform any job duties without direct supervision, usually by a LPN or RN.
The next level up from a CNA is a LPN. They can perform all of the same duties as a CNA, as well as several more advanced clinical responsibilities. LPNs can clean wounds, change dressings, place catheters, and more. Different states allow different privileges for LPNs, so you may also be permitted to start IVs, administer medication, or help with other advanced clinical duties.
RNs usually provide direct supervision for LPNs, but MDs, and other advanced clinical staff can, too.
While RNs aren’t the highest level nurse, they are the most well-known and provide most necessary clinical care to their patients. They can’t order medications or procedures, but they can administer medication and assist during select procedures. RNs are fully trained to draw blood, place IVs, and perform a wide variety of diagnostic tests.
MDs, nurse practitioners, and other advanced clinical personnel supervise RNs in the healthcare setting.
Transitioning from an CNA to a LPN doesn’t have to be difficult. There are many different CNA to LPN programs that bridge the gap in skills between these two essential healthcare roles.
The program that’s best for you depends on your individual circumstances. Choose an accredited program in the state where you plan to practice. This is important because each state has its own board of nursing, and each board has slightly different requirements for nursing licenses.
After you complete an appropriate program, you’ll need to take the NCLEX-PN, which is the licensing exam specifically for practical nurses. If you pass, you’ll be fully licensed and able to practice nursing in your state.
You don’t have to stop there. There are several more advanced nursing licenses that might interest you, aside from CNA, LPN, and RN. In order of seniority, you may also pursue:
In addition to increased clinical duties, these more advanced nursing licenses also provide higher wages and autonomy. The median CNA salary is $32,050. The median LPN salary is $48,820. If you’re interested in advancing your nursing career with these programs, search for nursing programs that help bridge the gap between your current license and the one you’d like to earn.
Jump starting your nursing career is convenient and exciting with Advantis Medical. Our online job portal, AdvantisConnect, features job opportunities all across the country. Whether you’re looking for allied health or a travel nursing role, we’re sure to have what you’re looking for. Register today to get started!