RN vs LPN – What’s right for me?

So, you have decided that you want to become a nurse, but who knew that one decision would lead you to so many more questions. The first decision you will need to make is whether to enroll in an LPN or an RN program. There are many differences which you should consider when making this initial decision, as for it will greatly impact your role, opportunities and income in the future.


Education Requirements and Costs

Let’s start with the education required for each position and the associated educational costs. On average an LPN’s training takes about 12-18 months, occurs at a technical school or community college and costs on average $10,000-$15,000. The cost can vary from as low as $5,000 to upwards of $30,000 depending on the location and program. There are also additional costs to consider, such as, uniforms, stethoscope, books, and travel expenses. If you choose to become an RN, you will need to make a decision about which degree to pursue. There are diploma, associate and bachelor’s degree programs which vary greatly in length and cost. On average, programs costs vary from as low as $20,000 to $200,000 and again one must consider the additional costs that the student will be responsible for. Choosing the right program for you will take some time and research.


RN vs LPN Job Responsibilities

To help you decide which position might be best for you, let’s discuss each. While LPN training is clearly less expensive and quicker, their scope of practice is more narrow which leads to fewer job opportunities and a lower salary. For example, an LPN can collect data on a patient, but he or she can’t interpret the results or make decisions regarding the next steps for the patient which limits their ability to work in numerous settings, especially critical care areas. An LPN is an integral team member, who works under the supervision of an RN or MD. An LPN may choose to advance into a supervisory position or perhaps later return to school to become an RN.

As an RN, you will have more options for positions, specialization, professional advancement and higher earning potential. Stop and think about where you see yourself working in the future. If you see yourself in a fast paced critical care area or with a particular population, such as pediatrics, then becoming an RN is essential. As an RN, you will have the opportunity to work in numerous settings, and you will always have the ability to try something new and different. One of the major benefits of becoming a nurse is the flexibility you have. You may choose to work night shift inpatient, or dayshift outpatient, as school nurse only 10 months a year, part-time or full-time, the options are endless. As a registered nurse, you can choose a job which best suits your current lifestyle.