LPN to RN Transition
The medical field is among the few industries that are continuously growing and it needs new professionals who can fill numerous positions that exist. Nursing has now become the fastest growing profession within the healthcare industry. Many people have the notion that a nurse is nurse but this is not always the case. Even though licensed practical nurses and registered nurses sound similar, they very little in common when it comes to their job tasks, salary ranges and education paths (Claywell, 2009). There are different licensing and designation for LPNs and RNs. None of these is more important compared to the other, but they are all critical in nursing and quality care of patients.
Role differences between LPN and RN especially those with BS degree
The nursing process comprises of four main steps which are assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation. The roles of the LPN are limited in each of these four steps but they can not perform them independently or completely. On the other hand, the RN performs the first physical assessment of a patient who has been newly admitted. It is also the duty of the RN to carry out daily assessment on the patients. The LPN is supervised by an RN or physician. The LPN only performs her duties as far as she is allowed by the law. Even though an LPN can learn quickly while doing the job, and gain knowledge on the conditions of patients, they are not allowed to do anything without a direction from an RN (Nunnery, 2010). They do not do assessments on patients but can collect vital signs from patients such as blood glucose level and pain and keep the RN informed. An LPN is only supposed to take note of how a patient is and how they respond to stimuli but they are not expected to interpret the data or make decisions pertaining to the patient. The LPN is supposed to report any of their findings to the RN. The RN then determines how these readings are used in the clinical picture for patients and whether there should be changes made in the care plan (Claywell, 2009).
The implementation of a care plan involves performing day to day care of a patient. For instance, the RN is expected to determine that a patient is likely to benefit from talking a walk three times a day and make it as an intervention in the care plan. However, the role of the LPN is to actually assist the patient in taking the walks. At the end of a shift, the RN evaluates the progress made by the patient towards the specific goals that would help in their recovery. The RN then makes adjustments dependent on the progress of a patient on the care plan (Claywell, 2009).
The RNs have a role of developing a care plan and do nay necessary changes on the plans. LPNs on the other hand can only contribute to the plans but they do not actually create the plans. Care planning and evaluation needs an individual to have critical thinking skills. These include the ability of analyzing information, considering any medical conditions and putting this information together into the health status of a patient (Nunnery, 2010). Students learn these skills in nursing skills but they are not part of the LPN curriculum that mainly focusses on bedside tasks. The RN is always expected to see the big picture of every patient.
There exist major differences when it comes to the scope of practice between RNs and LPNs. Sometimes this gap is wider depending on training, level of education, certification and specific guidelines within a state.
Strategies and suggestions to transiting LPN/LVN to ensure success in new RN roles
Most of the LPNs end up becoming RNs after working for a period of time. It is important for the LPNs to ensure that they have a smooth transition from the LPN role to that of an RN. An LPN/LVN who wants to become an RN should first make sure that they get the required education. They require an extra form of training that will put them up to speed with the role of an RN and include it in their scope of practice. Another strategy is to ensure that they are keen in learning and grasping everything that is required of an RN. They are supposed always be attentive and learn from the RN who supervises them so that they can know what the practice entails (Claywell, 2009).
The RN scope of practice involves potentially dangerous and complex tasks like adjustment of doses on the basis of the condition of a patient: invasive procedures such as giving intravenous chemotherapy or insertion of central venous catheter. Nursing is a hierarchy that is dependent on education and skills of an individual, but no role should be deemed less of a nurse or taken for granted. Therefor both an RN and LPN have a vital role to play in patient care.
Claywell, L. (2009). LPN to RN transitions (2nd Ed.). St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby Elsevier.
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Nunnery, R. (2010). Making the transition from LPN to RN. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.