At the present, there are several types of nurses. These include the Registered Nurse (RN), the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), and the Certified Nursing Assistant/Aide (CNA). These designations have been used since licensure and certifications were first enacted. Definitely, responsibilities also differ for these three. To fully understand the difference between a CNA and LPN read on.
On nursing programs:
It was just recently that CNA became in demand for a career. To be a CNA, you need to complete a course in Nursing Aide provided generally by two-year community colleges or specialized schools. Classes may take about six weeks to finish, as the course mainly deals on the very basic concepts of nursing. Trainings however, may be rigid, as this is the main goal of the program. At the end of the course, the graduate would need to take the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) to become a certified nursing assistant or aide.
As for LPN, there are approved practical nursing programs provided by community colleges, vocational schools, hospitals, or other independent health agencies. These programs usually last nine or twelve months and provide both classroom and clinical experience. In some areas in the United States, the LPN programs are being expanded to the associate degree level. At the end of the program, the graduate takes the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) to obtain a license as a practical nurse. Compared with the CNA programs, the LPN programs are more expensive and take a longer duration to finish.
On responsibilities and duties:
Under the supervision of a registered nurse, the CNA is responsible generally, for the very basic needs of the patient. These include assisting the patient in feeding, bathing and dressing. This is especially true for bedridden patients who need all the assistance as they can’t do it for themselves. Routine procedures, including taking of vital signs, are also part of the CNA’s duty. The CNA must also see to it that aside from the patient, the bed and the room, is always kept neat and clean. For some CNAs, they can also assist in setting up medical equipments and in some medical procedures, if they’re trained to do so. Lastly, as they are the ones working very closely with the patient, it is their responsibility to call for help, when the need arises or when there’s a decline in the patient’s condition.
On the other hand, the LPN is also expected to do broadened bedside care under also the supervision of a registered nurse. The vital signs, height and weight are also taken by the LPN. It is also their responsibility to make sure that the patient maintains good hygiene practices in their stay at the institution. Daily exercises for the patient can also be performed by the LPN. The major difference from the CNAs would be, the LPNs can administer medications, including injections while the CNAs cannot. LPNs are also licensed to perform wound dressing and to monitor the catheters of the patient. As much as they are also hands-on with the patient, they have the duty to asses and report regularly the status of the patient to their registered nurse or attending physician.
Generally, these are the similarities and differences between a CNA and a LPN when it comes to earning the certificate or license, and when it comes to their responsibilities and duties to their patients.