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LPN vs CNA | Training, Duties and Skills Needed Compared

Are you interested in an LPN program, or do you think that CNA is better? LPN vs CNA, this is a common question that most aspiring health workers have. Let’s find out if an LPN duty is better than CNA duties and what are the requirements to become an LPN and CNA, respectively. You can also get CNA classes in all US states as well as complete LPN training.  

LPN vs CNA – What is the Difference?

LPN stands for Licensed Practical Nurse while CNA is short for Certified Nursing Assistant. An LPN performs some of the basic RN tasks, while CNAs must be supervised by an RN to perform tasks. Both LPN and CNA are members of the medical team and help provide proper medical care to patients. 

There are some differences between an LPN and a CNA. First, the length of training that a student receives. For LPNs, a year or two's training is needed to become certified. Meanwhile, a CNA may need only a few months to a year's training, but this depends on the country or state where the student is receiving her training.

The general task of an LPN and CNA also varies, and there is a huge difference between CNA salaries to an LPN salary as well.  

CNA vs LPN Education

Aspiring CNAs need to complete a short course that focuses on basic nursing knowledge and skills that will help them provide primary care to patients sick or well. CNAs will need to pass this training to get a certificate. Training for CNAs includes basic nursing subjects like biology, anatomy, chemistry, and nursing subjects.

Practical training is done in a community or hospital setting where the students work closely with nurses and are oriented by certified CNAs. In some states, CNAs need to pass an exam offered by the state to perform their professional, but some are not licensed. 

Meanwhile, aspiring LPNs are required to complete a state-approved training or course from an accredited vocational school or community college. This course may last from one to two years. Students who pass will be awarded a graduation certificate.  

CNA vs LPN Job Duties

Once a CNA receives her certificate of completion of the CNA program, she may apply for work in many places, not just in hospitals. She may work in any medical facility that serves patients or provides care to patients as long as she works under the supervision of a Registered Nurse. 

Meanwhile, an LPN may work in a hospital, doctor's clinic, in nursing homes, community centers, and in a home setting, but her duties are not as detailed as a registered nurse. An LPN does not need the direct supervision of an RN. She may work closely with doctors, therapists, pharmacists, dieticians, and RNs.

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CNA Scope of Practice 

A CNA that works in a hospital setting will report to an assigned nurse in charge. A CNA may be assigned to any unit or section of the hospital as long as an RN is present. She may work under the supervision of an RN in wards, pediatric units, delivery rooms, operating rooms, emergency rooms, and dialysis units, to name a few.

Most of a CNA's day is spent working closely with patients in helping them eat, bathe, clean themselves, ambulate, linen changes, taking the patient's intake and output, and administering sponge baths, enemas, and other basic nursing functions. However, CNAs are not allowed to administer medications, to insert IV lines, perform physical examinations, and other complex nursing functions.  

CNA Requirements

As mentioned, aspiring CNAs should take a short course provided by a training center, school, or college. After completing the course, a student needs to take a test to secure a certificate of completion. CNAs may choose to upgrade their profession and become an LPN or an RN. CNA to LPN and CNA to RN training programs are available and may be taken while the CNA is working, or she may choose to stop working for the meantime to concentrate on her studies.

CNAs may pursue work in different areas of medical practice in a local establishment or may decide to work abroad. Both LPN and CNAs have bright careers abroad as well.

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LPN Scope of Practice

LPNs work without the supervision of an RN. The usual day of an LPN starts with joining all the members of the health team. She performs nursing assessments according to the patient's diagnosis, takes vital signs (blood pressure, temperature, respiration, and pulse rate) of the patient and provides nursing care appropriate to the patient's condition and diagnosis as well.


LPNs care for patients by assisting them in eating, bathing, taking their medications, ambulating, and getting ready for their treatments and many more. LPNs cannot provide complex nursing functions in specialized areas in the hospital, like in operating rooms, emergency rooms, and delivery rooms.  

LPN Requirements

Aspiring LPNs need to undergo training from a certified school or university. This training is less extensive than an RN's training, and it includes lectures, classroom discussions, practical training, and hands-on training.

Students will take classes on basic medical subjects like biology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and biochemistry. Training on the field is done in a hospital setting or a community center. Throughout the training, an LPN works closely with a registered nurse or a fellow certified LPN. A student must pass an exam to receive a certificate.  

LPNs will need to present a certificate or anything similar to present to a company that he is interested in applying. An LPN may be placed on probation, work closely with an RN until he learns the ropes of an LPN’s daily duties. 

An LPN may take continuing education in the form of seminars and training courses to improve her knowledge and skills in her field. Usually, training is offered from her place of work, or she may attend training provided by a medical association or group.

Many LPNs pursue work not just in hospitals but also in nursing homes, medical treatment centers, treatment facilities, and doctor's offices. Because they are able to work without the supervision of nurses, they may take on different career options such as a company nurse, a community nurse, or an amusement park first aider.

LPN vs CNA Salary and Employment Outlook 

A CNA salary varies from state to state and country to country. In the top states in the US, CNAs may take home $90,000 to $130,000 per year. CNAs who work in a hospital setting may receive additional perks such as free medical and dental coverage that extends to their immediate families, free medication, free training, free meals, and other perks.

CNAs may receive promotion depending on how long they have been working for the company, but they won’t be able to be promoted as an LPN or RN. For this, they need to receive further training.

An LPN salary also varies from state to state and country to country. Top states in the US offer $100,000 to $150,000 a year for LPNs. And just like CNAs, LPNs who work in a hospital receive additional perks. Promotion is possible, but not a promotion to become an RN. An LPN still needs additional studies and certification to be recognized as an RN. 

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CNAs and LPNs are very much in demand abroad. Countries in the Middle East and Europe are looking for highly-skilled and efficient medical professionals willing to relocate and to receive further training. You may also need to get certification for additional training and must pass language and communication tests as well. 

But if CNAs and LPNs have no plans to work abroad, local companies are also looking for medical professionals who have the drive and the heart to work with patients. We hope this article has helped you decide which better, LPN vs CNA are.

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