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.”