What’s the Difference Between a Registered Nurse and a Licensed Practical Nurse?

Registered nurses (RN) provide direct care to patients, while licensed practical nurses (LPN) typically provide assistance to doctors or registered nurses.

Licensure as a registered nurse is generally sought after graduation from a 4-year undergraduate nursing program and successful completion of the NCLEX-RN. Licensed practical nurses typically may need to complete a 12-14 month post-high school program and the NCLEX-PN. Licensure as a RN is generally a prerequisite both for graduate nursing programs and for advanced practice or specialty certification.

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1 U.S. News & World Report, 2022 Best Nursing Schools: Master’s. Ranked in 2021.

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