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When looking for a career in the healthcare industry, there are many job roles to choose from. Many are attracted to nursing jobs due to the vast opportunities and numerous options to specialize in. One common yet important decision is whether to pursue becoming an LPN or a CNA. Although both roles offer a rewarding career, there are substantial differences between an LPN and a CNA nurse that are essential to consider before making a career decision.
In this blog, we will examine the responsibilities and vital job skills required for each of these nursing jobs, how they differ in terms of job scopes and responsibilities, and what attracts people to pursue roles as an LPN or a CNA.
What Is An LPN?
LPN stands for licensed practical nurse. This requires certification as a practical nurse, or LPN, through an approved professional board of nursing. LPNs complete their registered nurse training along with specialized courses in patient care, pharmacology and more. Like registered nurses, they work on the front line of patient care and attend to a variety of medical duties throughout the day including assessing their patient’s vital signs and symptoms, administering medications, providing wound care, giving injections, and supervising CNA nurses. With additional qualifications, LPNs can work in fields such as geriatrics, mental health, operating room and neonatal nursing.
What Is A CNA?
A CNA, or certified nursing assistant, is a medical assistant who works in a hospice, rehab center, assisted living facility, home health agency, long-term care facility, or hospital under the guidance and direction of licensed practical medical personnel. CNAs must pass a state approved exam to receive certification. Upon certification, CNAs are authorized to dispense basic nursing needs such as helping with bathing, grooming, wound care, taking vital signs, and assisting with medical appliances designated for medical treatment, such as catheters and breathing treatments. Just like registered nurses and LPNs, CNAs are a vital part of a healthcare team and rely on information and support from their colleagues to complete their work.
Difference In Job Roles
An LPN is responsible for more complex tasks than a CNA, and this should be taken into account when considering which job to pursue. An LPN typically has more responsibilities, more authority when it comes to patient care, and more responsibility in terms of assessment and care planning. Additionally, an LPN may be able to specialize and have more job opportunities than a CNA nurse. At the same time, being a CNA can be a rewarding choice. For those who are interested in getting into healthcare through entry-level positions, working as a CNA can be a great start. It is a good way to gain experience in the field while honing your skills and potentially qualify for higher positions in the future. CNA duties are in turn-based, these include monitoring patient conditions, assisting with basic hygiene, and reporting any observations or changes to the attending physician.
Varying Degrees of Responsibility
Though similar in some respects, LPNs and CNAs have varying and unique degrees of responsibility. For example, an LPN is responsible for providing medical instructions and giving directions to CNAs. According to a 2019 study, LPNs are responsible for more technically complex and specialized tasks than CNAs, such as billing and insurance management, providing primary care, and even drawing blood. The same study also suggests that LPNs spend more time interacting with patients than CNAs which can differ significantly depending on the scope of their assigned duties. At the same time, studies show that CNA’s can specialize in patients such as elderly individuals and may assist both medical and non-medical staff with various patient-related tasks. Other duties may include, preparing meals, changing bedding, and providing comfort to patients who might not be able to function independently.
Reasons People Choose Pursue Becoming a Nurse
Nursing is a rewarding career that allows individuals to make a difference in the lives of others. There are numerous reasons why people choose to pursue LPN and CNA roles.
A career as an LPN offers more flexibility in terms of experience, salary, and job opportunities. Registered nurses are in high demand and LPN roles have much larger job scopes with higher average salaries. A 2018 study shows that in 2018 the average hourly wage was higher for LPNs than for CNAs, with the average wage for LPNs ranging from $15 – $21 per hour and the average wage for CNAs ranging from $13 – 17 per hour.
The job security in this career path is also attractive. There remains a strong job outlook for both LPNs and CNAs, with predictions of steady increases in the demand for these roles in the coming years.
For those interested in working with elderly and disabled patients, becoming a CNA can be a great choice. CNA jobs offer great pride and fulfillment as you are able to provide hands-on care and assist with basic needs to those who are most vulnerable. Additionally, due to their close patient interactions, CNA roles provide valuable experience in the medical field.
Make Your Choice
When considering a career in nursing, there are advantages to choosing a CNA or an LPN job role. It’s important to think about your career goals and what kind of job you would find the most satisfying. While it’s true that both LPNs and CNAs offer great opportunities, you need to make sure you’re making the right choice for you.
Whichever route you decide to take after considering all the benefits, MLee Healthcare can help you successfully land the perfect job. As a healthcare staffing and recruiting agency, MLee Healthcare offers job placement, access to exclusive job openings in the healthcare field, and professional advice. For those deciding to pursue a career as an LPN or a CNA, contact us.
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