Just ask the nurse.
Have you ever been told this rather direct statement only to wonder who you’re supposed to talk to? For example, the term “nurse” refers LPNs and RNs. Each type of nurse holds a license and has a particular scope of practice, which means they have a specific list of skills they are allowed to perform.
Let’s explore the different nursing staff you’ll work with in long-term care settings and what each can do.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
It takes about 12 to 18 months to become an LPN and earn a certificate. Then, LPNs test to become licensed in the state where they practice.
These healthcare professionals deliver limited and focused nursing care and are often the nurse you work closest with in long-term care settings. LPNs cannot work independently and are always supervised by an RN or doctor.
Typical LPNs tasks include:
- Giving oral and injectable medications (some can give limited IV fluids and medications)
- Taking vital signs
- Collecting samples for testing
- Providing treatments, like wound care
- Delivering direct patient care
- Teaching about their conditions and treatments
- Contributing to care planning and evaluations
Registered Nurse (RN)
RNs deliver care independently using the nursing process, critical thinking, and strategy. They hold college degrees ranging from an associate's to a master’s.
Each level of education opens more responsibilities and possible roles the nurse can hold. All RNs must pass a state exam to become licensed where they choose to practice. They can perform the same care as LPNs, and can also administer and monitor IV fluids and medications, perform assessments, and create care plans.
RNs often hold supervisory roles in care settings. They make critical decisions about residents who aren’t doing well, like when to call the doctor or even transfer the resident to a hospital. They create assignments for the nursing staff, supervise other nurses and CNAs, and do administrative work that keeps the facility functioning.
Now you know
As a CNA, you are an integral part of the nursing team. Each person on the team has a different role, responsibilities, and types of care they provide. Knowing each position and what that person can do will help you understand who to go to for help, questions, and concerns.