Difference Between RN and RPN

By: | Updated: Nov-29, 2023
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Healthcare professionals are highly regarded by society. This is because they are the ones who make a significant contribution to the well-being of people. They are not only professionals but also experts in their field. These professionals can be seen in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, doctor’s offices, and other health care institutions. They provide care for the sick and infirm. They also monitor the progress of patients and the medication that they are given. These professionals are highly trained in their field of expertise.

Summary Table

Has to be a graduate of an accredited school of nursing Must be licensed by the state board in which they work.
Has more responsibilities Has similar responsibilities, but mostly helping doctors
Trained longer, usually months or years Trained at least one year

Difference Between RN and RPN

Between healthcare professionals, nurses are given more responsibilities than the other healthcare professionals. The nurse is a registered nurse who has undergone specialized training in order to be qualified as a nurse. A registered nurse has to be in possession of a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree. Usually, he or she must also have undergone a year of internship and four years of work experience.

Another type of nurse is the registered practical nurse. A registered practical nurse is a person who has undergone less training than the registered nurse. However, the registered practical nurse is qualified to perform duties in nursing care. He or she may be trained to work as a front-line care provider. He or she is usually not qualified to provide basic nursing care but can help in providing supportive care and services.

There are a lot of similarities between the two. They are both involved in providing basic nursing care to patients. But, there are some differences as well. In this article, we will discuss the differences between the two. We will take a look at their qualifications, duties, and responsibilities.

So, let’s get started!

What is an RN?

The RN (Registered Nurse) is the person who holds a professional nursing license. They are required to have knowledge of the basic nursing sciences and also be competent in the use of therapeutic and diagnostic devices. They are also expected to be capable of communicating with patients, families, doctors, and other health care providers in order to deliver quality care.

What is an RPN?

RPN stands for Registered Professional Nurse Assistant. The RPN is trained by an RPN school or university approved by the State Board of Nursing to perform patient care duties as prescribed by their state board of nursing guidelines. In most states (but not all), a RPN may perform the following duties:

– Prepare a patient for examination and treatment by a physician.

– Administer medication as prescribed by the physician.

– Observe patients for changes in vital signs.

– Monitor vital signs such as temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure, respiration rate and other vital signs to keep a record of these parameters and provide information to physicians regarding their condition.

– Provide assistance to physicians in patient care and surgery.

– Prepare patients for discharge by making arrangements with physicians.

RPN’s are also involved in research and development of new drugs. They can work in various hospitals and nursing homes. They are also involved in emergency care and emergency room treatment. They may be called to a patient’s home for health concerns or other issues.

How are They Related?

They are both related to nursing. They are both registered nurses and they can perform the same duties. Both of them will be responsible for assessing, planning, implementing, evaluating and maintaining the patient’s care.

Both RN and RPN are in charge of taking care of patients in the hospital. They have to ensure that the patient’s needs are met and the safety of patients is maintained. They will be responsible for the following:

Caregiver’s responsibilities: Taking care of people and providing them with necessary services or procedures, managing personal needs, and acting as a representative of the patient.

Monitor patient’s health: Checking their vital signs and observing their condition at all times.

Act as an advocate for patients: Communicating with the other caregivers on behalf of the patient in order to get information about the patient’s health history, treatment plan, medication administration procedures etc. This is also known as “consultation”.

Both RN and RPN have to undergo a specific training before they can work as a nurse. They both have the same amount of education but different amounts of experience before they can be hired as nurses. They also follow the same rules and regulations.

What are the Differences?

Although the two are similar, there are still some differences between them. Let’s have a look at the most important ones.


The RN has to be a graduate of an accredited school of nursing. The RPN, on the other hand, doesn’t have to have a degree. However, they must be licensed by the state board in which they work.

Duties and Responsibilities

The RN is expected to provide basic nursing care to patients. They are also expected to make sure that the patient’s comfort is always maintained. In some cases, they may be required to administer medications and do other tasks as well.

The RPN, on the other hand, doesn’t have any of these responsibilities. They don’t provide basic nursing care and aren’t responsible for maintaining a patient’s comfort. However, they can still perform other tasks as needed by the nurses on duty or by the doctor himself/herself when he/she is providing a service in a hospital or similar facility. Explore Medical Solutions for a variety of ICU RN Jobs and numerous opportunities within the travel nursing field.


The RN is required to complete an accredited nursing program. This is usually done in a hospital or another educational facility that offers this course. They are also required to obtain a license from the state board before they can work as an RN. The training process is quite lengthy and can take months or even years.

The RPN, on the other hand, usually only needs to complete a one-year course. However, they must still be trained by an accredited school of nursing. They must also be licensed by the state board in which they work.


The RN’s salary is usually higher than that of a RPN. This is because the RN is required to complete a rigorous training program before they can be hired.

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