OK, I get it, I should have been an RN

(Back by popular demand. No, rather, the need for me to vent about the subject has reared its ugly head.)

While my ID says LPN I’m pretty sure there’s fine print that says “professional butt wiper.” There are days where I love my job. I love my patients, I love to pass meds, I love to give baths. Then there are days where every time I turn around someone is on the call bell because they need to be changed. Now I’m not going to sit here and say how much I hate that because I have to stop and remind myself that could be me or my family member some day. But, seriously, I’m going to be honest and say that the days that I spend doing nothing but ‘diaper detail’ are the worst.

I went to nursing school clearly not understanding all that a nurse does. I didn’t even know the difference between an LPN and an RN. In hindsight, yes, I probably should have sucked it up and went to RN school. Besides the fact that EVERY SHIFT I WORK I hear how I should be an RN,  RNs make a lot (and I mean A LOT) more than LPNs. But it’s also the ability to function ALONE … oh, what a joy that would be.

When a patient will ask what the difference between an LPN and an RN is, I have my standard answer: “An LPN can do everything an RN can do except for pushing narcotics, hanging blood, and being in charge.” That is the basic fundamental difference. Of course, since I’m on the LPN Professional Practice Committee, I could tell you what the state of Pennsylvania allows versus what UPMC allows, but that would bore you to tears. I will say, however, is that we get very nit-picky at these meetings. I’m always trying to push for the LPN to function at the highest the state law allows. Unfortunately, it can be a losing battle at times.

So, I’m an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) and me and the other LPNs always have jokes regarding what LPN truely stands for. Low Paid Nurse is my favorite. But don’t forget… we’re practical. Meaning we’ll tell you to take a sweater because it’s cold out or grab an umbrella because it looks like rain. I went to school for that.

Now back to how I didn’t know what nurses (as a general whole) do. I should rephrase that. What DON’T nurses do. We are waitresses (or waitors), pill pushers, butt wipers, lawyers, soothers, hand holders, peace keepers, patient advocates, house keeping, at times private duty, and above all kind.

I became a nurse because my Mom said that I’d make a good one. That’s why. Is it enough reason to go through the tortures of nursing school? Apparently. Do I love it? Yes. I cannot imagine my life not being a nurse. I don’t know what it is specifically about it that makes me love it so. Perhaps it’s that I never know what the day will bring. Or maybe it’s that no day is the same? There are constants that I can count on: there will be people there, they’ll be sick, I’ll give medications, I’ll argue with a doctor, someone will be constipated, there will be lots of complaining…it never changes.

So why am I an LPN and not an RN? Well, for one, I don’t have time to go to school at this point in my life. And yes, while I understand the paycheck would greatly increase, that’s not why I do it. I love when I come home at the end of the day and feel as if I’ve truly made a difference in someone’s life. That isn’t something you can put a price tag on. The fact that my job allows me to become a better person every day is why I do it. Because I am there for people in sometimes their darkest time. And they can find comfort in me. Sure, an RN does that, too. But for me, I’m happy where I am. I’m still a nurse at the end of the day.

But for the last time. I’m an LPN. I love being an LPN. So when you tell me that I should be an RN because I’m too smart that’s just a back handed compliment. That’s like saying I’m a high functioning LPN. What? Because I do my job? RNs are not ‘better’ than me simply because of their credentials. I went to school, too. So the next time someone tells me that I’m an excellent LPN, I am going to stop them and say, “OK, I get it, I should have been an RN.”


About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on February 11, 2010, in Cassie, Nursing, what annoys me and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. You are doing such important work and I think that nurses (of all variations) are the most vital to patient care.

    I’ve had 2 heart procedures in the last 6 years (catheter ablations, and I’m fine, thankyouverymuch), and the nurses made all the difference to me. The doctor breezes in does a minute or two of poke and prod, and goes on his way. The nurses were always there for me and got me seamlessly through the whole ordeal.

    I made sure to go out of my way to thank them profusely when my regular nurse was going off-shift or I when I was discharged. I could tell that they don’t hear that very much because one of them gave me such a tight hug…

  2. I think you’re awesome because you’re a nurse of ANY sort.

  3. Stupid, stupid people. I have my accounting degree, but did not get my Masters Degree or CPA license and people LOVE to tell me how I need to get that. It is so frustrating.

    Thanks for being a nurse. You make the world better!

  4. Cass – you’re an awesome nurse. Period. I would much rather have you taking care of me or my family than a lot of other RNs OR LPNs. Since I became a nurse, I have learned that it doesn’t matter what letters are behind your name – if you’re a good person, you’re good at your job. I do think that YOU deserve an RNs pay but I don’t think LPNs are that different from RNs. In fact, fresh out of nursing school – I learned A LOT from the LPNs that I was in charge of. Definitely more than I learned from most of the RNs on my shift (nights). Again, just saying that I think you’re probably one of the best nurses in our hospital – and I see a lot.

  5. I’m with everyone else here. You love what you do and you make a difference. No regrets. No excuses. Be good at what you do, and what a bonus if you actually like doing it! What an added bonus if you feel like you make a difference doing it! So many feel like they are wasting a way in a cubicle for no reason other than a paycheck. Obviously you would have made a kick-ass RN. You would have made a kick-ass doctor or surgeon, too. But you are a kick-ass LPN–and your patients are lucky to have you.

  6. Thanks for your blog! I am serious about getting into community college to get LPN. 1 year to 1 1/2 year is something I could do and get on with a career in nursing. I thought that after I get on with it I’ll see how it goes and then decide if i want to bridge to an RN. I don’t know yet. I am just ready to go this direction now after being a stay at home wife and mom for 11 years, my son is in school now and marriage is crap and need my future to be better for me and my child! I didn’t go to college after H.S. and I regret it!

    • Cassie or Carly

      That’s exactly what I did. However, if you’re willing to put in the time, I’d say, just go for your RN. It’s not much longer and to bridge into an RN program after becoming an LPN it’s another year… But like I said, at the end of the day, I’m still a nurse. I love being an LPN just as much as I would RN. Good luck! You won’t regret this!

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