The desire to become a nurse is a noble one. It requires a person to be compassionate, attentive, and discerning. A nurse must have good attention to detail, and be willing to listen to a patient’s needs.
A nurse must also be willing to work hard because the work can be quite demanding. While the work can be demanding, it is also quite rewarding. One of the more basic reasons for becoming a nurse is the fact that it pays well.
The rate of pay however, differs based on what nursing career you choose. The three that we will look at now are LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) RN (Registered Nurse), and NP (Nurse Practitioner). We will start with the one that pays the least, and go up from there.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
Becoming an LPN is the easiest of the three above mentioned nursing careers. It is easier because getting through the schooling only takes about 1 year. The benefit here is that you can start your career pretty quickly.
The demand for LPN’s are increasing every year so getting immediate work is highly likely. As an LPN you will be under the supervision of another Registered Nurse. An LPN can do many tasks including basic bedside care which includes recording the patients vital signs, weight, temperature, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and checking their pulse. The job may also include giving injections, dressing wounds, giving baths, monitoring catheters, and feeding the patients if they need assistance.
Out of the gate a Licensed Practical Nurse can earn on average around $41,000 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The actual figure for median pay for an LPN in 2012 was $41,540 per year or $19.75 per hour. These figures will differ for each LPN based on several factors including the state they live in, the facility they work in, and years of experience and pay increases.
Registered Nurse (RN)
The career path to becoming a Registered Nurse is a longer one than for a LPN, but the rewards are well worth it. The duties of an RN can vary depending on their work environment, but includes more responsibility than an LPN. One of the biggest differences between the two is that the RN coordinates the patient’s care.
Their typical responsibilities can include keeping records on their patient’s medical history and any symptoms they have. They can give medicine, set up a plan for treatment or modify an existing one. Their job involves keeping a close eye on the patient and record any changes. A Registered Nurse can operate medical equipment, perform tests, and work with family members when needed. Of course they can perform all of the duties of an LPN if needed, but usually don’t have to.
The beginning salary of a Registered Nurse is significantly higher than that of a Licensed Practical Nurse. The average median salary is $65,470 a year, or $31.48 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012. This is over 30% higher than what an LPN makes. It may take up to 4 years to become a Registered Nurse vs. 1 year to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, but the difference in wages is significant.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
Becoming a Nurse Practitioner is not something that you can just take a little schooling for and walk out with a degree. In order to become and NP you already have to be a Registered Nurse. The good news is that after becoming an RN, it is not too big a leap to advancing your career as an NP as it only takes about 1 more year of school. This is an average total of 5 years, but very well worth doing that last year of study.
NP Job Description
In general, an NP has duties such as treating chronic or acute illnesses, focusing on preventing disease, or promoting health. Many do lab work and can prescribe medication. Many NP’s work independently as well, but some work in teams.
RN vs NP Salary
The pay for an NP is much higher than an RN. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in 2012 the median pay was $92,670 which translates to $44.55 per hour. Some NP’s can earn as much as $117,300 per year depending on where they work. Becoming an NP gives you opportunities to work in physician’s offices, an outpatient care center, hospitals, and more. The highest paid positions are in personal care services that vary by the city and state the job is located in.
So if you are ambitious enough to pursue the schooling you can earn a very comfortable wage. Depending on your situation you can choose to advance slowly and start as an LPN and start working quickly. Then you can study in your spare time to advance to RN and perhaps beyond. Or, you can take the plunge and set off on your RN career with 4 years of schooling and advance to your NP career a year later.
What is the average salary for a nurse?