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LPN Certificates and Nursing Associate Degrees: How do they differ?

In the eye of the patient, it seems like all nurses are equal, with similar training and expertise. They are all called nurses so they must be the same, right? Not necessarily. There are many different paths to becoming a nurse, and nurses vary in their levels of experience and education.

Let's look more in-depth at just two of the many nursing degree programs available to people: a Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) certificate and an Associate Degree in Nursing.

The difference between LPN certificates and nursing degrees

LPN certificate programs and associate degree programs in nursing do share key similarities. Students in either type of program are expected to take similar science core classes, such as anatomy, physiology and chemistry, as well as foundational nursing courses such as psychology and practical nursing fundamentals. Both programs may include hands-on training at medical facilities or some sort of internship program.

The main differences between LPN certificates and associate degrees in nursing include program length and the depth and variety of the program's course content. The main difference is that associate degrees generally require more classes and go more in-depth into different medical subjects (both in the core curriculum and in the major). This difference in course depth and breadth is due to the fact that the associate degree typically prepares students to become registered nurses, who have more responsibilities than an LPN.

Another difference between the two programs is that an LPN certificate often takes about one year to complete and an associate degree in nursing typically takes about two years. Some programs may allow students to work while they earn their degree; an example of such a degree is an LPN to Associate Degree in Nursing program. This degree caters to those who have already completed an LPN certificate and wish to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN).

Career opportunities for LPN certificate

An LPN certificate prepares a student to become a licensed practical nurse,. LPNs typically work under the supervision of registered nurses, and provide medical care by fulfilling such responsibilities as taking a patient's blood pressure and vitals, recording patient information, and providing for patients' comfort. An Associate Degree in Nursing can prepare students to become registered nurses (RN), who can do more advanced procedures than the LPN, such as administering blood transfusions and developing a care plan for the patient.

Sources

"LPN Vs. RN Responsibilities," Houston Chronicle, http://work.chron.com/lpn-vs-rn-responsibilities-5379.html, Beth Greenwood

"Programs of Study," Denver School of Nursing, http://www.denverschoolofnursing.edu/programs.php

"Programs of Study - Health Sciences," Howard Community College, http://www.howardcc.edu/academics/program_information/catalog/web/programs/healthsciences/

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