LPN vs RN – What’s The Difference?

Practical Nursing Student

Do you know the difference between an LPN and an RN

Many people are often confused by the titles you see on a nurse’s badge. LPN stands for a Licensed Practical Nurse whereas RN stands for a Registered Nurse.

Educational Differences

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) typically have about a year of nursing education resulting in a diploma. Registered Nurses (RNs), on the other hand, have a two – four year degree resulting in a certificate, associate, or a baccalaureate degree.

Workplace Differences

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) provide basic nursing care while under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. LPNs work in many settings, including nursing homes, extended care facilities, hospitals, physicians’ offices, and private homes. Most work full time and tend to work in long-term care facilities more than any other workplace, because of advancement opportunities for supervising nursing assistants.

The NLN reported in 2011, that newly licensed LPNs were six times more likely to have administrative responsibilities as their counterparts within a hospital setting. Within a hospital setting, most LPNs are taking vitals and sometimes administering medications. Work settings will vary, and the BLS reports that “29% of LPNS work in nursing care facilities, 15% in hospitals, 12% in doctor’s offices, and 9% in home health.

Practical Nursing Program

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members. Registered nurses work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, home health care services, and nursing care facilities. Others work in outpatient clinics and schools or serve in the military. For RNs, hospitals are the most common setting, with 48% in private general hospitals and only 5% working in long-term care. RNs can specialize and be highlighted as an expert within a specific field or unit. For instance, a nurse can become certified as a medical-surgical nurse through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Keep in mind that work will vary from state to state because every state has a Nurse Practice Act that defines the scope of practice for Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses.

Are you ready to work towards financial security, have a lifelong career helping others, and do it all in less than 12 months? If yes, Pennsylvania Institute of Health and Technology’s Practical Nursing program can help! PIHT offers scholarships and financial aid for those who qualify!

For more information on graduation rates, median debt of students who have completed their programs, and other important information, please visit our website at www.piht.edu/academic-programs. Credits may not be transferable.


LPNs vs RNs. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nursinglicensure.org/articles/lpn-versus-rn.html

Nursing Credentialing. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nursingworld.org/ancc/

NURSING SPECIALTIES. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nursinglicensemap.com/advanced-practice-nursing/nursing-specialties/

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Summary. 13 Apr. 2018, www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm.

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Summary. 13 Apr. 2018, www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm.

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Summary. 13 Apr. 2018, www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm.