RPN vs. RN: What’s the Difference?

If you’re interested in pursuing a nursing career, you may wonder whether you should become a registered practical nurse (RPN) or a registered nurse (RN). What are the key differences between these nursing categories? Moreover, which scope of practice is right for you? Keep reading!

1. RPN vs. RN: The Basics

RPN and RN are two distinct nursing categories that differ based on education. Both RPNs and RNs study from the same pool of nursing knowledge. However, RNs study for a longer duration, which results in more comprehensive, nuanced, and specialized knowledge. RNs possess nursing insight that covers greater breadth and depth.

According to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), nursing is a very broad profession that’s continually evolving. Presently, there is a distinct difference between RPNs and RNs. However, this difference is expected to become even more pronounced. In the near future, RNs will shoulder more responsibility and have more influence. They will be able to permit medication. This will set them further apart from RPNs.

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2. Academic Credentials

a nurse standing and smiling in a hospital

RNs possess a baccalaureate degree from a four-year nursing program or a college-university nursing program. The resulting degree is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) or Bachelor of Nursing (BN). RNs can specialize in a field of their choice (e.g., cardio, emergency care, neonatal, etc.). RPNs, on the contrary, possess a diploma in Practical Nursing. This box can be checked off the list by taking a two-year program with four semesters in college.

3. Place of Work

RNs generally work in hospitals, ERs, clinics, and so on. They assist with more complex diagnoses and help treat more complex health conditions and disorders. RPNs commonly work in hospitals, clinics, schools, and community programs. They provide general care and focus on common issues that don’t require specialized attention.

If a condition is predictable and stable, an RPN will handle it, not an RN. Despite this difference, both RPNs and RNs enjoy great career opportunities. Both roles are rewarding, fulfilling, and growth-oriented. If you want to cover more nursing ground, consider becoming an RN. If you’re happy with providing general care, an RPN career is your calling.

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Over the years, Priya Basil has helped thousands of aspiring nursing students pass their nursing exams with high scores. At Modern Tech Nursing, we help you prepare for a wide range of nursing exams across Ontario, including LPN-NCLEX review, application for NCLEX, OSCE, CAS, jurisprudence exam, and more.

If you want to become a nurse in Canada, make full use of our resources, expertise, and experience. It’s time to study for nursing school the right way. You’re almost there! Schedule a consultation with Priya to get closer to achieving your dreams. If you have any questions, we’re always happy to help.