What's the Difference Between a Licensed Vocational Nurse and a Licensed Practical Nurse?

If you'd like to provide nursing care under the supervision of a doctor or a registered nurse, you could be a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN). But what's the difference? Keep reading to find out more about LVNs and LPNs. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of LVN versus LPN

The primary difference between a LVN and LPN is a variation in job title based on the state in which you work. Both of these are entry-level nursing careers. If you work in Texas or California, your job title is LVN. All other states refer to the same occupation as a LPN.

Important Facts about this Occupation

Average Salary (2018) $47,050
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 12% job growth (faster than average)
Key Skills Compassion, attention to detail, working with people, patience, communication
Similar Occupations Registered nurses, nursing assistants and orderlies, medical assistants, surgical technologists, physical therapist assistants, psychiatric technicians, pharmacy technicians

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Typical Job Duties

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), LVNs and LPNs care for patients of all ages under the supervision of doctors or registered nurses. Your job duties may include maintaining patient records, monitoring and recording patients' vital signs and changing bandages. Doctors or nurses may call on you to provide directed assistance with more complicated tasks like surgical procedures or the delivery of babies.

You may also assist patients with daily living tasks such as dressing and bathing or physical activity like walking. You could work in clinics, hospitals, private medical practices or assisted living facilities. In some states, your responsibilities may also include supervising other LPNs or LVNs and any unlicensed staff.

Training Programs

You need to have a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) credential before you can begin preparing for your career as a LVN or LPN. Training programs typically take a year to complete and follow the curriculum set by each state's board of nursing. Training programs for LVNs and LPNs are typically offered at community colleges or vocational schools. You'll learn pharmacology, biology, anatomy and physiology. You'll study pediatric nursing, surgical nursing and disease prevention.

Some programs may also require you to complete laboratory coursework and clinical experience in order to fill graduation requirements. In many cases, you'll earn a certificate once you've completed your training and you'll be ready for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN) and any other required state exams. As an LPN or LVN, you may also have the opportunity to obtain certification in specific areas, such as gerontology or IV therapy.

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