What is an LPN?

Nurses sometimes have different roles in a hospital or in an office. Some are nurse practitioners, others are registered nurses (RNs) and some are licensed practical nurses (LPNs).

Individuals who are considering a career in nursing or who would just like a bit more information may find themselves pondering the question, what is an LPN? LPN is an acronym that stands for licensed practical nurse. They take on various nursing roles that quite similar to those of an RN in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing homes. Most patients would probably not be able to tell the difference. But there are a very distinctive qualities to an LPN.

Vocational School

While an RN will need to acquire an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s, the qualifications for an LPN are a bit less intimidating. An LPN does not need to receive an Associate’s degree. Some people can even take most of the coursework for becoming an LPN during high school if their school offers vocational training. The LPN requirements entail one full academic year and then passing the Nursing Exam. People who do not want to spend years paying off student loans find vocational training such becoming a qualified LPN to be an excellent option.


An LPN’s salary depends upon where they live. Certain states have a higher demand for LPNs than others. Among the ten best states for LPNs, Connecticut leads with an hourly wage of $24.39. Lowest among the ten worst states is West Virginia, offering an hourly wage of just $14.15 to LPNs. This is enough of a difference that has compelled many LPNs to either relocate to a different state or to pursue a degree and become a registered nurse. But the mean salary across the United States is about $41,540, which amounts to a mean hourly wage of $19.97.


Typically an LPN will not establish themselves in the hospital. Their legal abilities are much more limited. While many LPNs can functionally perform many of the duties of the RN after years on the job, there are limitations to what they are legally allowed to do. An LPN will not care for a premature infant in the neonatal ward of the hospital. Most hospitals do not hire LPNs because of their limited duties. The LPN is much more likely to work in long term care. That is why 29% of LPNs work in nursing home facilities.


Across most industries, there is a higher demand for individuals in the lower level vocation. Nursing is one of the few exceptions this principle. There is a higher demand for registered nurses than for the licensed practical nurse. Job growth for the RN is projected to expand by 26%, while LPN jobs are projected to expand just 22%. If an individual is considering the differences between LPN and RN, they would take into consideration that there are 3,236,288 registered nurses and just 816,687 LPNs. Most people who are pursuing a career in nursing are becoming RNs.

There are several critical differences between the RN and the LPN. But both are respectable positions in the medical industry and are necessary caretakers. Hospitals, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, and many more establishments, are fueled by the hard work of LPNs.

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