The main differences between a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) is the amount of training required and increased responsibilities. Typically a CNA training program consists of classes that last approximately 120 hours. The training program for an LPN is much more extensive and takes anywhere from 12-18 months to complete.
Scope of Practice between a CNA and an LPN
While a certified CNA is very valuable in assisting doctors and patients, their role is more limited than that of the LPN. An LPN can administer medicines and meds via IV’s that are specified by an RN or doctor’s orders. In addition, a CNA cannot start or begin an IV while the licensed practical nurse can.
LPN training includes anatomy and physiology courses that a CNA is not exposed to. A certified LPN has also been trained to recognize disease processes and received instruction in determining abnormalities in the human body. Lastly, the LPN will have been introduced to pharmacology classes, whereas the certified nursing assistant has not.
Training to become CNA vs LPN
The fastest and least expensive way to entering the health care field can be by becoming a CNA. You can also step up your healthcare career by advancing to LPN and then possibly become a registered nurse with continuing education. Irregardless if you become a CNA or an LPN you will want to get certified.
The biggest difference between CNA and LPN is the fact that CNAs are not required to be certified and LPNs do require certification. The certification process for a CNA is offered by the state board of nursing and your CNA training program should have practice tests and tips for you. If you complete the LPN training program you will need to sit for the NCLEX PN exam. This license allows you to practice for 2 years before the need to renew and complete continuing education requirements. The LPNs commitment to longer training programs and certification will usually translate to higher wages and career opportunities too.