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Join Us Each Thursday Morning in June!
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Understanding the Differences Between RNs and LPNs

Resident Care Dynamics: Understanding the Differences Between RNs and LPNs

Are you a nursing student seeking a rewarding career path? You know you want to pursue a career in healthcare—maybe even resident care, specifically—but maybe you don’t understand the differences between RNs and LPNs.

In senior living communities such as The Kensington Reston, the roles of Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are fundamental to delivering exceptional and compassionate care.

Understanding the distinctions between these two nursing positions will be necessary for anyone aspiring to make a significant impact in assisted living and memory care.

We’ll explore their unique responsibilities, the critical part they play in resident care, and the pathways from RN and LPN roles to advanced nursing positions.

Our promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own.

Registered nurses (RNs) role in senior living

RNs are integral to the healthcare team in senior living communities such as The Kensington Reston.

They typically require more advanced training than LPNs, including earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and passing the NCLEX-RN examination.

This extensive education equips RNs with advanced clinical skills essential for specialized care.

The responsibilities of an RN in senior living:

  • Conducting comprehensive health assessments of residents
  • Developing and implementing individualized care plans
  • Managing medication regimens for residents
  • Handling complex medical situations and coordinating care
  • Working with a team of healthcare professionals to ensure high-quality care
  • Fostering a nurturing and safe environment for senior residents

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) role in senior living

LPNs play a vital role in the healthcare team, especially in senior living settings such as The Kensington Reston.

LPNs generally require practical nursing training, which includes completing a state-approved educational program and passing the NCLEX-PN examination.

This training focuses on equipping LPNs with essential practical nursing skills.

The responsibilities of an LPN in senior living:

  • Administering medications to residents, ensuring correct dosages and timings
  • Providing wound care, including dressing changes and monitoring for infection
  • Delivering direct patient care, such as assisting with daily activities and personal hygiene
  • Monitoring vital signs and reporting any significant changes to RNs or physicians
  • Playing a key role in the resident care team, often acting as a liaison between RNs, physicians, and other healthcare staff
  • Supporting the overall well-being of residents through compassionate and attentive care

What are the differences between RNs and LPNs?

In Virginia, RNs require more training, including an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing, enabling them to manage complex care and make independent clinical decisions.

RNs have a broader scope of practice compared to LPNs, who complete shorter, practical nursing programs and focus on basic patient care under RN supervision.

Essentially, RNs are more focused on analytical and planning roles in patient care, while LPNs primarily engage in the direct, hands-on aspects of caregiving.

Consequently, RNs generally have a higher pay grade than LPNs due to their advanced training and responsibilities.

Pathways from CNA, PCA, HHA to LPN and RN

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Personal Care Assistants (PCAs), and Home Health Aides (HHAs) provide essential direct care to residents, with CNAs typically undergoing the most formal training among the three.

These caregiving roles are ideal stepping stones for nursing students or those aspiring to become nurses, offering practical experience in patient care.

They serve as foundational experiences for advancing into LPN and RN positions, familiarizing caregivers with the healthcare environment and patient interaction, which are essential in nursing careers.

Read—Can and Can’t Dos: Scope of Practice for CNAs, HHAs, and PCAs

Resident assessment and care planning by RNs

On a typical day at The Kensington Reston, an RN might start by conducting comprehensive health assessments for new residents.

Let’s consider a scenario involving an RN. The experienced RN at The Kensington Reston begins their day by reviewing the health records of a new resident, Mr. Johnson.

They conduct a thorough health assessment, noting his medical history, current medications, and any specific care needs.

An RN’s tasks include:

  • Conducting health assessments: Evaluating Mr. Johnson’s physical condition, cognitive function, and emotional well-being.
  • Developing care plans: Based on their assessment, the RN creates a personalized care plan for Mr. Johnson, addressing his unique health needs, such as medication management and mobility assistance.
  • Collaborating with the care team: The RN coordinates with LPNs and caregivers, providing them guidance on Mr. Johnson’s care requirements.
  • Ongoing monitoring: Throughout the day, the RN monitors Mr. Johnson’s condition and adjusts his care plan as needed, ensuring his comfort and well-being.

Medication management and direct care by LPNs

At The Kensington Reston, an LPN plays a central role in the day-to-day healthcare management of residents. Here’s a brief look at what their typical responsibilities might involve:

An LPN at The Kensington Reston is tasked with medication management for several residents.

Their day includes:

  • Administering medications: They meticulously prepare and administer prescribed medications, ensuring correct dosages and timings.
  • Wound care: The LPN provides wound dressing for a resident, applying their skills in wound management and infection control.
  • Vital signs monitoring: They routinely check and record the vital signs of residents, alert for any changes that might indicate health issues.
  • Direct patient care: Beyond these tasks, the LPN assists residents with daily living activities, offering both physical and emotional support.

Resident advocacy and family communication

Navigating care plans and the healthcare system can be an incredibly complex task, especially for senior residents who may face challenges such as memory loss caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s.

In these scenarios, nurses at The Kensington Reston step in as important advocates for their residents:

  • Championing residents’ interests: Nurses take the lead in ensuring the residents’ healthcare needs and preferences are heard and addressed, particularly vital for those who may struggle with communication due to memory issues.
  • Bridging communication with families: They also play a key role in keeping families informed and involved, ensuring a collaborative approach to care decisions, and fostering a supportive network around each resident.

Read: Joining The Kensington Reston Team: The Step-By-Step Process

Join The Kensington Reston family! Now hiring LPNs, RNs, and caregivers

Embark on a fulfilling career journey with The Kensington Reston, a community dedicated to assisted living, memory care, Alzheimer’s care, and exceptional dementia care located in Virginia.

We are actively seeking compassionate LPNs, RNs, and caregivers who are committed to Our Promise of delivering high-quality, loving, personalized care.

Be a part of our assisted living and memory care team, contributing to life-enriching experiences for our residents.

Ready to take the next step in your nursing career? Explore the exciting opportunities awaiting you at The Kensington Reston’s career page.

Contact us to learn more about joining a team where your work truly makes a difference.

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