LVN vs. RN: Which Nursing Program Is Right for Me?

LVN vs. RN: Which Nursing Program Is Right for Me?
Vocational Nursing Students at Stanbridge University

Nursing school is a big decision. Not only are you committing to years of hard work and study, but you’re also deciding which pathway you want to take. There are many different nursing programs and degrees, so how do you know which one is right for you?

In this blog post, we’ll break down the key differences between Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) to help you make a more informed decision about your nursing education.

Vocational Nursing Programs

What Is a Vocational Nurse?

An LVN is a nurse who has completed a vocational nursing program. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), LVNs provide basic nursing care for patients under the supervision of an RN or physician. They are responsible for tasks including, but not limited to, taking vital signs, inserting catheters, changing dressings, and helping with daily activities such as bathing and eating.1

Where Do LVNs Work?

Licensed vocational nurses work in various settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, home health agencies, doctor’s offices, and schools.1 No matter where they work, their ultimate goal is always to provide high-quality patient care.

What Training Is Required to Be an LVN?

Requirements may vary from state to state, but all LVNs must have a high school diploma or equivalent before beginning their program. After that, they must complete an accredited vocational nursing program which usually may take up to 28 months depending on full or part-time status. LVNs may earn a diploma or certificate from an accredited vocational nursing program. Stanbridge University offers an Associate of Occupational Science in Vocational Nursing program.

Upon completing the program, nursing students must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) before becoming licensed as vocational nurses in their state.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programs

What Is a Registered Nurse?

RNs are healthcare professionals who coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their families.2 RNs typically have at least an associate degree in nursing, but many RNs hold a bachelor’s degree (BSN) or higher. RNs have more clinical experience than LVNs and can care for more complex patients than vocational nurses. RNs also have more responsibility for patient education and support. They may collaborate with other healthcare team members to develop and implement treatment plans.

Where Do RNs Work?

RNs can work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home health care agencies.RNs play a vital role in the health care system, and their duties vary depending on the type of facility in which they work.

What Training Is Required to Be an RN?

To become licensed, RNs must graduate from an accredited nursing program and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Many students pursue a three to four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program to further their education and possibly advance their careers down the line.

LVN vs. RN: Which Nursing Program Is Right For Me?

Regardless of classification, nurses play an essential role in providing quality patient care. Both LVN and BSN programs have advantages, and both require passing the NCLEX to earn licensure. The right choice will depend on your career aspirations. If you’re trying to decide which program is right for you, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much time can I commit? LVN programs are shorter than BSN programs, so they may be a better option if you’re looking to enter the workforce quickly.
  • Do I want a bachelor’s degree? A BSN program is a pathway to earning a bachelor’s degree, which may be beneficial, depending on your career ambitions.
  • Where do I want to work? Some employers prefer to hire nurses with a BSN, so if you’re looking to work in a specific setting, such as a Magnet hospital, that may be something to consider. Ultimately, the decision between an LVN and BSN program is personal. Consider your career aspirations and choose the program that best meets your needs.

Nursing Programs at Stanbridge University

Stanbridge University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program for nursing students pursuing RN licensure, as well as an Associate of Science in Vocational Nursing program for those interested in training to become a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN).

For more information about Stanbridge University’s other programs, click here.

1Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, at As viewed on October 18, 2022.

2Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses, at As viewed on October 18, 2022.