Every career path has its exciting aspects and its challenges.
The medical field probably poses some of the most rewards and pitfalls of any other profession out there.
Learn the pros and cons of becoming an LPN before you decide on this vocational track.
Article Table of Contents
- 1 Pros of Being an LPN
- 2 Cons of Being an LPN
- 3 Should You Become an LPN?
- 4 Pros and Cons of Being an LPN – Summary Table
Pros of Being an LPN
Shorter Training Period Than for RNs
You only have to attend school for a minimum of one year to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, otherwise known as an LPN.
That is much shorter than if you were to attend college to become a Registered Nurse (RN), which usually takes about four years.
For the amount of money you could make working as an LPN, it is probably worth it if you do not want to wait for RN training program acceptance.
Decent Salary For Education and Experience
You could make an average of $45,000-$55,000 per year as an LPN, depending on the state where you practice.
That is about $10,000-$15,000 more per year than as a CNA.
Chances are, you could live with that increase after only one or two years of continued education.
Even if you make only about $40,000 per year to start, that is still quite the return on your educational investment.
If you earn your associate’s degree, you could probably increase your earnings to maybe $60,000 a year, which is only about $10,000-$15,000 less than the average starting Registered Nurse (RN) salary.
No matter what, you will probably come out more ahead if you commit to the short LPN educational track than if you stayed at the CNA level.
More Authority Than CNAs
As an LPN, you may sometimes perform some of the same duties as you did when working as a CNA.
Two daily tasks you might still perform, for example, include checking patients’ vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, etc.) and assistance with dressing.
You also might still help patients bathe and transport them from one room to the next.
However, you might have the authority to also administer medications and assist people who require breathing machines, IV drips, or CPR.
On the other hand, you will need to verify the roles you are permitted to carry out according to your location guidelines.
Not all states have the same rules about what LPNs can do, although, you will have increased power to delegate tasks to others.
In addition, you will have almost as much knowledge as RNs or doctors as an LPN versus a CNA.
You may not always have to clean out bedpans or perform other duties you used to as a CNA.
You also will have increased interaction with doctors and hospital administration.
Moreover, people might recognize you more within the community.
Of course, it may not turn out exactly like this, whereas it seems that the medical profession always has a shortage of workers.
You might have the recognition but still have to perform some of your former CNA duties, but you can always look for new opportunities.
Continued Demand for Your Services
No matter where you decide to work, the facility will probably always need your services.
As long as you remain in good standing and treat your patients well, you should have no problem finding a job anywhere.
You can work in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, or at retirement and assisted living facilities.
Additionally, you could apply to become a school nurse or work at a recreational site.
Some employers also have in-house nurses, so you could try for one of those positions as well.
Easier to Become an LPN Than an RN
You still have to follow strict educational guidelines.
After all, people’s lives are in your hands every day when you land your first job as an LPN.
However, you will not have to face as many program entry requirements, and this does not mean that you are “less” of a person than an RN either.
For starters, you might find it easier to enter an LPN training program with a lower grade point average than if you were to become a nurse.
It also might not require as many advanced placement math or science classes, but you will still learn the practical aspects of taking care of people where you work.
For the level of program difficulty, you would do well for yourself even if you do not earn as much as an RN.
Useful Career Experience
Your experience as an LPN will help you later become an RN if you want.
It also buys you the time and money you need to enter and become accepted into an RN training program and residency.
Some colleges will even help you transition from becoming an LPN to becoming an RN.
Cons of Being an LPN
Not as Much Earning Power
You will make an excellent salary as an LPN.
After a while, you may even earn almost as much as an RN.
On the other hand, you could end up working for several years before you make as much money as an LPN as you would like to make.
It depends on where you work.
In some cases, you may never make much more than the starting salary because some places just do not have the budget for high-paying staff.
You may reach a point in your life when being an LPN will not be enough for you.
If not, start planning now even before you become an LPN what you would do about possibly becoming an RN in the future.
Not as Much Authority
After a while, you might have just as much knowledge as an RN or doctor.
That comes with the experience you have when working in a certain position.
However, it still does not give you the authority that you would have as an RN or doctor.
At some point, you might have to fulfill your dreams of furthering your medical career or find new vocational opportunities.
Non-Geriatric Positions Are Competitive
You might find an overload of people seeking the same non-geriatric positions as you.
What is more, this competitiveness for positions in hospitals or doctors’ offices and clinics will increase as the Baby Boomer and Generation X crowds age.
You will probably have to stay flexible as far as what type of facilities you would work in as an LPN.
It is not always easy to find open hospital positions.
All medical staff, including doctors and RNs, experience burnout.
They all have to sometimes work double shifts or even for 24 hours straight.
However, the LPN burnout differs from that of people in “higher” positions.
In your case, you could end up taking on more responsibility than what you find appropriate for your job title.
It is hard to avoid having to work shifts you do not want to work as an LPN.
However, you should never take on duties you know you cannot safely perform.
Make sure you have the proper training and do not become burnt out taking on responsibilities that are not yours.
Besides, you do not want to make it a habit of completing tasks that you know RNs or doctors would earn more to perform than you.
You can work towards specializations as an LPN.
However, you will not always have the chance to practice in your desired specialization until you finish nursing school.
For instance, you can enroll in any classes your college permits you to take at your educational level.
Courses you might take while employed as an LPN include ones on how to handle pediatric patients, techniques for treating cardiovascular patients, and safe medication administration.
Still, you may have to wait until becoming certified as an RN to officially specialize in your desired category.
Not Much Time For A Personal Life
You may not have as much responsibility as an RN or a doctor.
However, you will still have less time for a personal life as an RN than you even did as a CNA.
On the other hand, you might have a little more control over when you can take your vacations than you did as a CNA.
In any case, expect to work long hours and not have much free time, especially if you decide to continue your education to become an RN.
Should You Become an LPN?
It only requires a minimum of one year of school, so it would not hurt you to try.
If you always aspired to work in a nursing role, this will help you make those dreams come true.
After some time working as an LPN, you could also advance to becoming head of your department or try for other positions elsewhere while you continue your training to become an RN.
Becoming an LPN will benefit you financially, too.
After all, nursing school is expensive.
You are going to probably need a job to pay for it unless you want to live on student loans or a CNA salary.
You will, however, need to manage your time while in school, especially if working full time.
Pros and Cons of Being an LPN – Summary Table
|Pros of Being an LPN||Cons of Being an LPN|
|Shorter Training Period Than for RNs||Not as Much Earning Power|
|Decent Salary For Education and Experience||Not as Much Authority|
|More Authority Than CNAs||Non-Geriatric Positions Are Competitive|
|Increased Prestige||Possible Burnout|
|Continued Demand For Your Services||Fewer Specializations|
|Easier to Become an LPN Than an RN||Not Much Time For a Personal Life|
|Useful Career Experience|