What are the Differences Between an LPN, RN and BSN?

Four nurses standing with arms crossed

If you are interested in earning a healthcare degree to enter the field of nursing, you may hear acronyms that do not sound familiar to you. People might ask you if your goal is to become an LPN or RN, or if you would like to earn a BSN. It can be difficult to keep the terminology straight, especially if you are a new nursing student. Check out the differences between an LPN, RN and BSN:

In This Article:

LPN vs. RN

An LPN generally spends one year earning a practical nursing degree to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), and an RN typically spends two to four years earning a professional nursing degree to become a registered nurse (RN). In addition, to become an RN, you must earn an associate degree in nursing and/or a BSN, meet the requirements for licensure and pass the examination.

In terms of daily responsibilities, LPN’s are qualified to perform a handful of medical procedures, while RNs are qualified to practice a wide variety of procedures in several healthcare settings, in order to assist in the numerous health needs of patients.

LPN’s generally have responsibilities such as observing patients, collecting samples from patients, preparing and giving injections, feeding patients and more. RN’s tend to supervise and make independent decisions while administering medicine, managing nursing plans and assisting physicians.

RN vs. BSN

A concept that is important to understand when discussing the differences between an RN and a BSN, is that it is not a direct comparison; an RN is a job title and a BSN is an undergraduate healthcare degree.

A BSN is unique because you can gain a BSN while working as an RN, or you can gain a BSN to become an RN. However, you will find that many hospitals prefer to hire nurses with a BSN, as it is a degree that reflects hard work and determination. In addition, a BSN can help you advance your career from an RN, to a charge nurse, nurse manager, unit supervisor or division nurse leader.

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Why GCU?

Grand Canyon University offers an advanced and innovative RN to BSN program for registered nurses with an associate degree, diploma or certification. If you are a registered nurse wanting to attain additional professional practice and healthcare theory knowledge, this program could be the right fit for you! GCU’s BSN degree offers courses taught by practicing nurses and experts who are can help you reach your highest potential.

If you are interested in GCU’s RN to BSN program within the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions, then visit our website or contact us today using the Request More Information button at the top of the page for more information!

S, Prabhat. (2009, December 9).  Difference between LPN and RN. Difference Between. Retrieved July 2016.

Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing. (2016). Undergraduate Frequently Asked Questions (2016).  Retrieved July 2016.

1Cannot be used in conjunction with other GCU scholarships or awards.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.