Registered Nurse – The RN is the highest position in the nursing profession. You must have a Bachelor’s degree and be Licensed by the State in which you plan to work. Most nurses start their careers as an RN and then pursue other positions once they have a firm grasp on the basics. To become an RN, you must pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.
CNA – A CNA is basically a nursing assistant. To become a CNA, you must hold at least a high school diploma and have passed the CNA classes. CNA certified nurse aides work under nurses to help with patient care, bathing, feeding, and changing a patient’s clothes. Some states require CNA certified nurse aides to take further training before they can work as independent contractors or for a hospital as an RN.
Licensed Practical Nurse – A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is responsible for providing basic nursing care to patients. LPNs have different education requirements than LPNs. A nurse aide who wishes to become a licensed practical nurse must enroll in a nursing assistant training program. In the program, the LPN will learn how to perform basic nursing skills, including but not limited to assisting the nurse in the treatment of patients and providing a safe environment for treatment. Some states also require LPNs to successfully pass a licensing exam before they can work as nursing assistants.
Registered Nurse – A registered nurse (RN) is responsible for seeing that patients are comfortable and heal properly. RNs assist RNs by giving directions to doctors, conducting medical procedures, and other tasks as needed. In order to become an RN, it is necessary for a nurse to earn both a diploma in nursing and a degree in a related field. The RN license comes from one of two national certification programs – the Registered Nurse Practitioner (RNP) program and the Registered Nurse Specialist (RNS). In order to get into either program, a nurse aide must successfully complete state-mandated training and pass an exam.
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) – A CNA is an individual who assists nurses in the treatment of patients. A CNA assists nurse aides by performing tasks such as checking vital signs, checking wounds, changing bedding, providing aid with medication administration, and similar tasks. To become a CNA, a nurse aide must successfully complete a state-mandated training program and pass an exam. Because CNAs typically work closely with patients, they are often the first medical contact for patients, which can result in a strong relationship between the nurse aide and the patient.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) – The LPN is the most common of the three nursing certifications. The LPN obtains their license by completing the state-mandated training requirements and passing a state exam. In order to obtain a LPN license, a nurse aide must have completed the required coursework as well as passing an exam. In order to become a licensed LPN, a nurse aide must have completed a minimum of 500 hours of training and experience. Once a nurse aide becomes a licensed LPN, he or she can legally work in any hospital in the United States.
RN – The RN is the second most common nursing certification. Unlike the LPN, a nurse aide who becomes an RN has not completed 500 hours of training and experience. Instead, a nurse aide who becomes an RN has to complete a specific number of credits in order to be legally allowed to work as an RN. The minimum number of credits required by the RN to be eligible to sit for the licensing exam is 24. In order to become an RN, an aspiring nurse aide must successfully complete a state-mandated training and exam.