Difference Between LPN and LVN


LPN stands for Licensed Practical Nurse and LVN stands for Licensed Vocational Nurse; this implies that both are designations of nurses, but is there any difference between LPN and LVN? Let’s look into it in detail, but before that we need to know that these nurses need further study to acquire and to be called as RNs or Registered Nurses. In the US, LPNs and LVNs are given the chance to reach their RN status through a bridge program.

What is LPN?

A Licensed Practical Nurse is the term used by all US states except California and Texas to refer to a basic nurse. An LPN usually assists doctors in health clinics and hospitals. In the US, there are more than 700,000 people working as LPNs. LPNs are required to have a clean criminal record and needs to have finished one-year training program in an accredited school or college.

LPNs often provide basic bedside care for the people who are sick, injured, convalescent, or disabled. In some States, LPNs are permitted to administer prescribed medicines, start intravenous fluids, and provide care to ventilator-dependent patients.

Difference Between LPN and LVN

What is LVN?

LVN or Licensed Vocational Nurse is the term that is equivalent to LPN in the states of California and Texas. Just as same as the LPN, this occupation requires one to possess a GED, a clean criminal record and to be a graduate from an accredited school. However, in Texas, there exists a rule that implies that the student needs to complete a total of 20 contact hours in two years.

What is the difference between LPN and LVN?

These two are just the same. As used in the Unites States, LPN and LVN are terms that describe the same thing. Other than the state in which each of the terms is used, there are no other significant differences to these two terms.

The term LPN is used in 48 states; LVN is just used in the states of California and Texas. These terms have an equivalent term in the other parts of the world, as well. For example, in Australia they are referred to as Enrolled Nurses or EN. These two have the same job descriptions, the same workplace, and the same requirements.



• LPN and LVN describe the same job. However, LPN is used in most of the states in the US except in California and Texas where LVN is used instead.

• To become a LPN or LVN, one needs to have completed one-year training program in an accredited school or college and have a clean criminal record; in case of LVN as well one needs to render 20 contact hours in two years.


Further Reading: 

  1. Difference Between LPN and RN
Image Attribution: LPN Graduation 1992 by osseous (CC BY 2.0)
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Daily/100001638102300 John Daily

    LPNs can legally administer prescribed medicine in ALL states, and also frequently work in Nursing Homes and Adult Care Centers as well as schools. In some states (such as PA) LPNs have also held Nurse Manager or Director of Nursing positions. As an LPN in NY, I held the position of Night Shift Supervisor for an 80 bed facility.

    It is true that LPNs do need additional study to become RNs, but this in no way makes them ‘RNs who haven’t made it yet’ (any more than RNs are ‘MDs who haven’t made it yet’) as many LPNs are satisfied with their position in the healthcare hierarchy (typically, LPNs are more ‘hands on’ with patients).