Nursing remains a revered profession. The ability to touch and heal has appealed to generations of medical professionals. The need to serve has drawn women and men to sacrifice their own time and riches to help others. And, over time, the medical professions have specialized and stratified – channeling duties and requiring different levels of education.

Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

LVNs are hands-on bedside care-givers. They take orders from a physician or Registered Nurse (RN). They tend to the sick, of course, but they also care for patients who are disabled or injured, elderly or convalescent. They work in doctor’s offices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and assisted care facilities. (In some places, LVNs are called Licensed Practical Nurses.)


LVNs interact regularly with patients to:

  • take and record the their vital signs.
  • give needles, medications, and nutrition.
  • apply bandaging and tend to wounds.
  • bathe and dress patients.
  • give enemas and treat bedsores.
  • change sheets and bedpans.

Currently, LVNs are expected to complete community college training or a certificate program. Testing and licensing are typically governed by state boards. The educational requirements are increasing in demand, and most candidates complete a bachelor’s degree.

If you are pursuing vocation nursing licensing in southern California, you will have a different experience than if you did so in Indiana or Florida. Each state’s requirements differ, sometimes slightly, sometimes more. Pay attention to that.

Registered Nurse (RN)

The job description for RNs has been growing, adding responsibilities for advocating patients’ needs and educating communities about health care and disease prevention. They have duties in patient care to assess, advise, and assist doctors during treatments. In some settings, they supervise LVNs and Nursing Aids. In hospital and clinical settings, they tend to become specialized in maternity, pediatrics, surgery, cancer or cardio care, and intensive care or emergency room.

Registered Nurses:

  • provide the first contact between the patient and the health care services available.
  • work in clinical, hospital, out-patient settings
  • manage the patient’s healthcare regimen.
  • perform key procedures, such as IV placement, infusion, phlebotomy, and dialysis.
  • administer medications and record tests, vitals, and outcomes.

The nursing occupation is one of the largest work groups in the economy, and it is expected to grow even more. As the population ages, the need for RNs in geriatric care, home-health care, long-term, and ambulatory care will.

The job sector is large, but many new jobs will open. The nature of care and the impact of technology will increase the education requirements. Nurses will see their tasks broaden and deepen, and they may be expected to complete advanced or specialized degrees. Their responsibilities in primary care will increase, and more will be expected in terms of administration and staff management.

The nursing career will add pressure to individual nurses, but it will also expand opportunities improving job quality and challenges. The potential for new jobs is less impressive than the promising quality in those new jobs.