Oh the famous question. What is the difference between an LPN and an RN?
It seems like a loaded question, but its really not. At least not in Alberta.
And we need to just focus on our province of Alberta right now, cause thats where I live, and well thats sort of part of the things I want to touch upon in the next couple of blog posts.
Its time the public really understands the differences, I’m tired of my patients judging me because they got an LPN instead of an RN. I’m tired of the general public crying out that nurses make too much money. I’m tired of the comment, “oh you’re not a nurse, you’re just an LPN”
So, let me tell you the difference between an LPN and an RN in Alberta:
- An LPN cannot spike a bag of blood and cannot give certain blood products. BUT, they can monitor you while the blood is flowing into your precious veins, and circulating around your body, while your body either takes it in as relief and rescue; or while your body rejects this blood. And you can be rest assured, that that LPN is going to know exactly what to do if your body is going to reject it, and you bet your LOVELY immune system, that that LPN is going to be competent to do just what she/he knows best and make sure you make it out alive.
- An LPN cannot be a Charge Nurse. BUT, they can call the doctor and get a verbal order; and you bet, they can call that Doctor and tell them everything wrong with you, and why they think that you need a pain medicine right now. Or maybe you need Ativan, because you’re having a panic attack, and you’re not in a coping state right now. Or maybe, that LPN is looking at your blood pressure, heart rate, and noticing that you’re acting ‘off’, things just don’t seem right, and your life is in danger. Yes, that LPN can call the doctor, present their concerns, AND you better f*7king believe it, that Doctor is going to trust that NURSE. YES, LPN’s are NURSES!! That doctor trusts that LPN. I see it everyday I work, I do it everyday I work.
- At some facilities and some units, LPN’s cannot spike a bag of TPN. Hey, do you even know what TPN is? It stands for Total Parental Nutrition. (Brace yourselves, an LPN is about to educate you, yes, they can do that too). The short version of TPN, is that it is basically vitamins, fats, and minerals fed to a patient intravenously. (TPN’s are adjusted by a dietician according to each patients needs, therefore not all TPN’s will include the same combinations) In some hospitals, an LPN can get extra education and is able to perform this skill with another nurse present. In other hospitals, they do it all by themselves. EDIT: just to clarify I have never spiked a bag of TPN; are you allowed at your hospital? Have you received extra education for it? Please make sure you’re adhering to CLPNA when performing skills, if unsure, and are unable to find the information, DON’T DO IT.
Okay. Thats the difference between an RN and an LPN in Alberta.
Notice how many ‘BUT’s were in there????
Now, guess what the wage difference is?
RN Hourly Wage within Alberta Health Services: $37.60-$49.34
LPN Hourly Wage within Alberta Health Services: $26.45-$34.63
I am a nurse with 3 years of general internal medicine nursing practice, and 9 years of working in a hospital on the front lines, and I’m currently making $27.60/hr as an LPN. I have worked with AHS for 9 years and 1 month. I started out as a Unit Clerk, and still work VERY casually as a Unit Clerk, at $29.22/hr. ( yes, I make less money as a Nurse)
In 2016, when I became an LPN, AHS ignored that I had worked for them for 6+ years as a Unit Clerk. I started as an LPN at the bottom wage. I had been working for AHS since I was 18 years old. EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD. There is absolutely NO THANK YOU FOR THAT. Is that a Unions fault? Or is it because its a government job? I am just a number.
They didn’t fund my LPN Diploma because they were experiencing cutbacks during that time, and their Professional Development Fund was frozen.
So, why should I bother becoming an RN? To make more money per hour, but lose all my seniority with the company? To lose my vacation hours? To not have a job when I finish schooling because of constant cut backs. To feel further discouraged and devalued as a Nurse? To feel sorry for any LPN’s that I’ll work with in the future?
The only real plus side to becoming an RN that I can see, is that I can move to any province and do the same job. I can move to any country in the world and do that same job. This blog post focuses on differences between Albertan LPN’s and RN’s. In other provinces, the LPN’s scope of practice can be much smaller, especially in BC and Ontario. Saskatchewan is fairly on par with Alberta from what I’ve heard, but fortunately LPN wages in Saskatchewan are much more adequate than Alberta.
All in all, I enjoy being a nurse. And you can believe that because I choose to be an LPN even though I could be making more money as a Unit Clerk. I choose to be an LPN, because I care about people, I’m smart, its interesting, it can be rewarding, its raw, its real, and I get to share in peoples most pivotal experiences in their lives. If I can be a positive aspect of someones hospital stay, if I can be a just a small part in their recovery, then I’m going to be there.
Do I wish that I could have fair wages? Yes. Do I wish there was no LPN’s and RN’s? Yes.
I wish that there was just Nurses. I wish we were just one body. No competition. Just Nurses. I wish we all had the same education, and were rewarded with pay that equaled our experience and education combined.
I wish my Health Care Organization would stop increasing LPNs scope without compensation.