In this world of interdisciplinary healthcare, it is important that we understand who we work with and trust as our clinician partners. The role of the nurse has expanded over the decades and we should not assume that understanding of this role simply when hearing, "I’m a Nurse".
Nurses are differentiated primarily by education, licensure, and specialty. From entry level to terminal degree, the following will provide an overview of the variety of nurses we may encounter.
Licensed Vocational | Practical Nurses (LVN or LPN)
These nurses are often educated in 3 semesters at adult schools or community colleges. They are prepared to deliver quality patient care and some medication management. Activities of the LVN or LPN may require oversight by a Registered Nurse.
Registered Nurse (RN)
Associate Degree Nurse (ADN)/Diploma-This RN is educated in approximately 3 years, typically at a community college and has a technical focus. Proficiencies include patient care at all levels, development of a nursing plan of care, and can lead a team of nursing staff (e.g., charge nurse).
Bachelor of Science, Nursing (BSN): This RN is educated in approximately 4 years, typically at a college or university. Preparation includes an introduction to research concepts, leadership, and theory. This degree is often considered the first level of the "Professional Nurse". Many healthcare facilities will now only accept BSN level or higher for their nursing leadership positions.