The drawbacks of becoming an LPN

Night shift While there’s clearly a lot to like about an LPN career, there are still some trade-offs you’ll want to consider before pursuing an LPN Diploma. We’ve highlighted some of the most prominent potential drawbacks to choosing this nursing career path.

1. LPNs earn less than RNs

Although an LPN salary is nothing to scoff at, they still earn less than their RN counterparts. The BLS reports that the median annual salary of a registered nurse in 2019 was $73,300.Compare these median annual salary figures side-by-side and you’ll see that there’s a $25,820 difference—that’s obviously a substantial difference worth your consideration.

Money isn’t everything in a career field, but it can make a big difference. If you’re considering an LPN career, you’ll have to decide if the lesser pay is worthwhile considering the other advantages of the LPN Diploma.

2. There aren’t as many options for specialization

Registered nurses can choose from many specialty areas, like intensive care nursing, operating room nurses or public health nurses. These specialties may come with perks like a higher salary or more desirable work hours, or they may simply fall into alignment with a nurse’s interests.

However, those with their LPN designation are a bit more limited in their options. Many specialty areas require their nurses to have an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree. LPNs can still choose to focus on specializations like long-term care or wound care—especially if they pursue relevant certifications—but they won’t have access to the same range of options as RNs.

3. LPNs have a smaller scope of practice

Scope of practice defines what duties a healthcare professional is qualified to perform. An LPN’s scope of practice varies by state, but they typically perform basic patient care under the supervision of an RN or other medical professional. LPNs can expect to take and monitor patient vital signs, maintain accurate health records, help patients bathe or dress and administer medications.

These are all vital duties that keep patients comfortable and maintain a high standard of care. But if you imagined yourself rushing through an ER to administer emergency care or consulting with a physician about a patient’s care plan, you might be disappointed in the LPN role.

4. LPNs often work in gerontology

Gerontology, or the care of elderly and aging populations, is the most popular work environment for LPNs. A whopping 38 percent of LPNs work in nursing homes or residential care facilities, while only 15 percent work in hospitals and 13 percent work in physicians’ offices.2

There’s certainly nothing wrong with working in the gerontology field! LPNs are an important part of elder care. However, if you’d rather not work exclusively with older patients, it may feel like your career options as an LPN are more limited than you expected when you first envisioned a nursing career.

A nursing career worth considering

Now that you know more about the potential pros and cons of becoming an LPN, have the advantages of being an LPN won you over? If you’ve decided this is the nursing career path for you, there’s no time like now to get started!


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