This weekend, I made the early morning trek to Starbucks to indulge in my favorite seasonal pick-me-up. While sitting at a table, I glanced and noticed a small group of nursing students. It was clear that they were taking a short break from studying what appeared to be the Foundations of Nursing Practice. Within that moment, I reflected back on my time as an undergraduate nursing student. Thoughts of weekly eight a.m. study sessions with friends imprinted my mind. At those same tables, for hours, we sipped coffee, made notecards, and created care plans. For a little while, those memories invoked an internal smile.

Since I was an earshot away, I overheard their entire conversation. Seemingly, topics ranged from lectures to clinical experiences. Afterward, their discussion began to steer towards something much more concerning. One of the students shared that she interacted with LPN students from a local community college at her clinical site. Admittedly, the earlier statement sounds benign, but her delivery was bathed in arrogance. Then, with sheer disregard, she expressed, “I do not understand why they are going to a nursing school to become an LPN because they are not real nurses.”

After hearing those remarks, I bucked my eyes and shook my head in disbelief. Initially, I wanted to confront the young students. However, my super-ego halted me from making an unwise decision. Because of her ignorant and brash remarks, I feel obligated to discuss that LPNs are REAL nurses too. Obviously, I take great offense when a fellow nursing colleague states that LPNs are not REAL nurses.

My reaction after hearing the student's opinion.

                                         My reaction after hearing the student’s opinion.

As a nurse practitioner student, I learned a great deal from LPNs like Becky Rhodes and Sharon Blackmon. For instance, during my clinical rotation, they taught me how to independently and efficiently manage office tasks. Most importantly, these leaders in the nursing profession declared that a specific title does not define the quality of the clinician. But, justly applying knowledge and compassion are the true markings of a top-notch nurse practitioner. Without question, LPNs like Becky Rhodes and Sharon Blackmon embody the title of a nurse because they provide incomparable nursing care and convey unparalleled professionalism.

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Nevertheless, some registered nurses deem that LPNs should not hold the title since they have less clinical training and education. However, I strongly disagree. First, LPNs must pass a national licensure exam prior to assuming nursing responsibilities. In my opinion, if an individual passed the NCLEX-PN, they have earned the title nurse. Furthermore, a governing nursing board can suspend or revoke an LPNs license if he or she engages in a disorderly act.

Although LPNs are under the supervision of an RN, they can complete many tasks.

However, it is important to note that the scope of practice varies from state to state.

In some states, LPNs can…

  • Perform procedures or treatments
    • Perform ongoing assessments of patients
    • Complete basic care
    • Take a patient’s medical history
    • Administer medications/ immunizations
    • Start/ manage IVs
    • Complete dressing changes
  • Assume independent care of the sub-acutely ill or chronically ill patients
  • Assist the RN in the care of an acutely ill patient

LPNs are a fundamental part of the nursing workforce. Moreover, it is imperative that RNs should not initiate a caste system to stratify whether an LPN warrants the title of nurse. Frankly, it is demeaning and insensitive. I am sure that Florence Nightingale would not want nurses to embody those qualities.

 

Thanks for reading this post! Please share your thoughts in the comments section. I cannot wait to hear from you!

Ashley Wagner
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