LPN LVN RN APN nursing degrees

What Are the Differences Between an LPN, LVN, RN and APN?

If you enjoy caring for others while earning a generous salary, a career in nursing may be the right fit for you. The demand for nurses is never-ending and the employment rate for nurses is constantly growing.

While hospitals are usually the go-to employers for many nurses, there are several other practice settings where you can apply your skills, like schools, assisted living homes, cruise ships or military bases.

There are many titles within the nursing field, including licensed practical nurse (LPN), licensed vocational nurse (LVN), registered nurse (RN) and advanced practice nurse (APN). Understanding the differences in qualifications and responsibilities between these titles may help you decide which career path in nursing is right for you.


Licensed Practical Nurses vs. Licensed Vocational Nurses

Despite slightly different job titles, both LPNs and LVNs have the same responsibilities. Both work under doctors and are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). Your title will depend on your geographical location. The term LVN is used in Texas and California, while the rest of the United States uses the term LPN.

As an LPN, your job responsibilities will involve caring for low-risk patients with relatively simple needs. However, becoming an LPN requires rigorous training, including classroom study and hands-on practice. You’ll be diving into a broad array of subjects ranging from anatomy, pharmacology and nutrition to intercultural awareness when caring for patients.


Why Should I Become an LPN?

If you’re curious about a career in healthcare but not quite ready to make a long-term commitment, becoming an LPN may be the way to go. LPN programs are generally a lot less expensive and time consuming than RN programs. With commitment and focus, you can complete the program within a year.


Licensed Practical Nurses vs. Registered Nurses

Once you’ve worked as an LPN, you may decide it’s time to advance your knowledge and skills by becoming a registered nurse. As an RN, you will transition from basic nursing care, like checking blood pressure or drawing blood, to more challenging responsibilities, like performing diagnostic tests, analyzing results and supervising LPNs and nursing aides.

With an increase in responsibilities comes an increase in salary. While the median annual salary for LPNs in the United States is $48,820, the median salary for RNs is $75,330.

Becoming a RN usually requires a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing, but there are several other options available. For example, St. Louis College of Health Careers offers an accelerated LPN to RN program for individuals with LPN competency.


Advanced Practice Nurses

Advanced Practice Nursing is the final achievement in the nurse’s career trajectory. APNs start as registered nurses and advance into specialized training by completing graduate or doctoral degrees. APNs can pursue one of four advance practice categories:

  • Nurse practitioner (provides general care)
  • Nurse midwife (provides obstetrics and gynecological care)
  • Nurse anesthetist (administers anesthesia services during surgery)
  • Clinical nurse specialists (provides advanced expertise in fields like oncology, cardiology, pediatrics, etc.)

Nurses with masters and doctoral degrees may also pursue academic careers working as nurse educators at nursing schools, colleges and universities. APNs are usually the highest-paid nurses, with an annual salary often exceeding $100,000.


Choose St. Louis College of Health Careers in Missouri for Your Healthcare Education

For more than 40 years the St. Louis College of Health Careers has offered academically rigorous, hands-on training for students pursuing carriers in the healthcare industry. We have a diverse array of programs and degrees and a rich catalog of courses to match your professional goals and to help you advance your academic journey.

Our on-campus and online classes give students flexibility in both their scheduling and learning preferences. Students of our St. Louis and Fenton campuses find great opportunities to immerse themselves in academic and practical training environments.

You can learn more about our programs by calling us at 866-529-2070 or by filling out the form on our website.

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