What’s the Difference? LPN vs. RN vs. BSN

For many nursing hopefuls, the path to RN can be blurred with excessive amounts of information. How do I become an RN?  What is an LPN? What’s the difference between an RN or BSN nurse? For these questions, there are also answers, so for those who are new to the field of nursing, have no fear! We’re here to break down duration, necessary core classes, pre-requisites; and the main difference between the various nursing levels as well as the known salaries of the distinctive nurse titles. Remember that things like core classes can vary, so be sure to check with your local counselor for specific details.

LPN– LPN stands for Licensed Practical Nurse, or Practical nurse/ LVNs (Licensed Vocational Nurse)

Duration of degree: Becoming an LPN/LVN takes the least amount of time to complete. The program in most states ranges between 12-18 months.

Education: Within a normal LPN/LVN program, prospective students are expected to take courses like introduction to anatomy, nutrition, pharmacology, research, legal/ethical issues. Examples of classes include Introduction to Client Care, Care of the Client with Health Deviations and Advanced Client care which includes clinical classes. Finally, a Nursing License Preparation class may be offered to sit for state boards.

What certifies an LPN – LPNs sit for the National Licensure Examination known as the NCLEX- PN, to certify that they can practice as a licensed practical nurse.

Salary- While salary is based on region/ experience; per the Bureau labor of statistics the average salary is $43,170

RN- RN stands for Registered Nurse

Duration of degree:  becoming an RN takes 2 years to complete.

Education–   Most RN degrees are obtained at community colleges.

A prospective student beginning this journey would first complete the general education classes such as English, math, basic Science, nutrition, sociology, general psychology and speech/ communication class. General core can vary depending on the state and school. After liberal arts classes are out of the way, you enter into what many know as prerequisite classes to enter the nursing program.

*Note: For many schools, your general education classes are a totally separate entity than the nursing program. You must take general course, pre-requisites and then usually apply SEPERATELY to the schools nursing program. Make sure you verify with any program you are looking to attend, as entrance requirements differ in the US.

Pre-requisite courses for the RN program are usually comprised of the following classes (or something very similar to this):

  1.       ANATOMY I w/ lab
  2.       ANATOMY II w/ lab
  3.      INTRO TO MICROBIOLOGY w/ lab      
  5.      INTRO TO PSYCHOLOGY or INTRO TO DEVELOPMENTAL           PSYCHOLOGY (or something similar)

 *Note: Depending on the program, grades in the above classes as well as an entrance exam like the Teas.  It is usually very important to do well in these courses to give you leverage prior to entering the program.  Recommendation purchase a practice test book.

What certifies an RN: Upon entrance, the RN curriculum follows classes and clinical experiences designed to prepare a nurse to sit for what’s known as the National Council Licensure Examination, otherwise known as the NCLEX-RN. This board exam determines the ability for a graduate nurse to enter entry level practice.

*Note: Depending on the program ATI, Kaplan, or Hesi are usually used to measure how well you are prepared to take the NCLEX-RN.

*Note: Usually Kaplan and HESI are used after intake to a nursing program, although a few nursing programs use it as a bar of testing to enter the program

Salary: Average salary based on region and experience, the 50% percentile earn $67,490

BSN – Bachelors of Science in Nursing

Duration of degree – it takes 4 years to complete a BSN

Education: A BSN can only be obtained at a 4-year institution. A prospective student who is trying to obtain their BSN would take the general core classes and pre-requisites needed as listed above for the RN degree. Here is the only difference….

Difference: As well as the prospective student taking all the classes we listed above for the (RN degree) (anatomy I w/ lab, anatomy II w/ lab, Intro to microbiology w/ lab, college algebra, Intro to psychology) a BSN student would take additional pre-requisites and additional upper division nursing classes once in the program. (see below)

Most schools want BSN prospects to complete the additional following pre-requisite courses before applying to the program: Statistics, Chemistry I w/ Lab, Chemistry II w/ Lab (* note these might vary depending on state)

As well as the additional pre-requisites, once ADMITTED into the program, a prospective BSN student takes additional upper level courses that involve classes such as: Leadership and Management in Nursing, Community Health Nursing, Health Assessment, Capstone Project, and Clinical Leadership Practicum. The student may be guided to choose 1 of the following classes as an elective: Nursing Informatics, Public Health Nursing, or Ethical issues in Nursing.

What certifies a BSN/RN– A BSN trained RN will sit for the EX

What’s The Difference? LPN vs RN vs BSN

ACT same board exam that a community college trained RN studies for and takes. The National Council Licensure Examination, otherwise known as the NCLEX-RN.

Salary: The pay scale tends to be the same for RN trained nurses and BSN trained nurses in some states. Although in other states, you will see that an RN nurse may make a dollar less than a BSN trained nurse, rounding the median salary from $67,490- $70,000 for a BSN trained nurse.

Author : Alexandra Amanambu

BLOG & RESOURCES, HireNurses Featured Guest Bloggers!