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Healthcare Documentation Specialist vs Licensed Vocational Nurse

Healthcare Documentation Specialist vs Licensed Vocational Nurse

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Key Points:

  • Healthcare Documentation Specialists focus on medical coding and transcription; Licensed Vocational Nurses provide basic patient care.
  • Healthcare Documentation Specialists typically earn higher salaries than Licensed Vocational Nurses.
  • Both careers have good job prospects.
  • Healthcare Documentation Specialists often complete online training programs, while Licensed Vocational Nurses undergo in-person training.
  • Healthcare Documentation Specialist training is generally less expensive and shorter than the training required for Licensed Vocational Nurses.

The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, and with that comes the need for skilled professionals who can provide accurate and timely documentation of patient care. Healthcare documentation specialists play a crucial role in maintaining patient records and ensuring that all medical information is properly documented. On the other hand, licensed vocational nurses are responsible for providing direct patient care under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician. Let's take a closer look at these two professions and the key differences between them.

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What is a Healthcare Documentation Specialist and Licensed Vocational Nurse?

  • Healthcare Documentation Specialist: A healthcare documentation specialist, also known as a medical transcriptionist, is responsible for transcribing and editing medical dictation provided by healthcare professionals. They listen to recordings made by doctors and other healthcare professionals and create written reports that become a part of the patient's medical record. Accuracy and attention to detail are crucial in this role, as any errors in documentation could have serious consequences for patient care.

  • Licensed Vocational Nurse: A licensed vocational nurse, also known as a licensed practical nurse in some states, is responsible for providing basic nursing care to patients. They work under the supervision of registered nurses or physicians and perform tasks such as taking vital signs, administering medication, and assisting with activities of daily living. Licensed vocational nurses play a vital role in the healthcare team and often have direct contact with patients on a daily basis.

Difference between a Healthcare Documentation Specialist and Licensed Vocational Nurse

While both healthcare documentation specialists and licensed vocational nurses work in the healthcare industry, there are several key differences between the two professions:

  • Job Responsibilities: Healthcare documentation specialists focus primarily on transcribing and editing medical dictation, while licensed vocational nurses provide direct patient care. The role of a healthcare documentation specialist is primarily administrative, while licensed vocational nurses have a more hands-on role in patient care.

  • Education and Training: Healthcare documentation specialists typically need a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree in medical transcription or a related field. They also need to have excellent listening and typing skills, as well as a good understanding of medical terminology. On the other hand, licensed vocational nurses must complete a state-approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to become licensed.

  • Supervision: Healthcare documentation specialists often work independently and may have limited interaction with other healthcare professionals. Licensed vocational nurses, on the other hand, work under the supervision of registered nurses or physicians and collaborate closely with other members of the healthcare team.

  • Career Advancement: While both professions offer opportunities for career advancement, the paths may differ. Healthcare documentation specialists may choose to specialize in a specific area of medical transcription, such as radiology or pathology, or may pursue additional education to become medical coders or health information managers. Licensed vocational nurses can further their education and become registered nurses or specialize in a specific area of nursing, such as pediatrics or geriatrics.

Healthcare Documentation Specialist vs Licensed Vocational Nurse: Job Description

  • Healthcare Documentation Specialist: As mentioned earlier, healthcare documentation specialists are responsible for transcribing and editing medical dictation provided by healthcare professionals. They need to have a strong understanding of medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology to accurately transcribe and edit medical reports. They also need to be proficient in using transcription software and other computer programs. Attention to detail and the ability to work independently are key skills in this role.

  • Licensed Vocational Nurse: Licensed vocational nurses provide direct patient care under the supervision of registered nurses or physicians. They perform tasks such as taking vital signs, administering medication, dressing wounds, and assisting with activities of daily living. Licensed vocational nurses also observe patients for any changes in their condition and report any concerns to the supervising nurse or physician. Compassion, excellent communication skills, and the ability to work well under pressure are essential in this role.

Healthcare Documentation Specialist vs Licensed Vocational Nurse: Education and Training

  • Healthcare Documentation Specialist: To become a healthcare documentation specialist, individuals typically need to complete a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree program in medical transcription or a related field. These programs provide training in medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology, as well as transcription software and other computer programs. Some employers may also require certification through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI).

  • Licensed Vocational Nurse: Licensed vocational nurses must complete a state-approved nursing program, which typically takes about one year to complete. These programs provide training in basic nursing skills, pharmacology, and patient care. After completing the program, individuals must pass the NCLEX-PN to become licensed. Continuing education is often required to maintain licensure and stay up to date with advancements in the nursing field.

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Healthcare Documentation Specialist vs Licensed Vocational Nurse: Career Outlook and Salary

  • Healthcare Documentation Specialist: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of medical transcriptionists, including healthcare documentation specialists, is projected to decline 2 percent from 2019 to 2029. This decline is primarily due to advancements in speech recognition technology and outsourcing of transcription services. However, there will still be a need for skilled healthcare documentation specialists who can accurately transcribe and edit medical reports. The median annual wage for medical transcriptionists was $33,380 in May 2020, according to the BLS.

  • Licensed Vocational Nurse: The employment of licensed vocational nurses is projected to grow 9 percent from 2019 to 2029, according to the BLS. This growth is faster than the average for all occupations and is attributed to the aging population and the increasing demand for healthcare services. The median annual wage for licensed vocational nurses was $48,820 in May 2020, according to the BLS.

Final Thoughts

Both healthcare documentation specialists and licensed vocational nurses play important roles in the healthcare industry. Healthcare documentation specialists ensure that accurate and timely documentation is maintained, while licensed vocational nurses provide direct patient care. The choice between these two professions depends on individual interests, strengths, and career goals. Those who have a keen eye for detail and enjoy administrative tasks may find a career as a healthcare documentation specialist fulfilling. On the other hand, individuals who have a passion for patient care and enjoy working directly with patients may find a career as a licensed vocational nurse to be rewarding. Ultimately, both professions offer opportunities for personal and professional growth, and individuals should choose the path that aligns with their interests and goals.

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Keziah Lim
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Keziah Lim
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