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Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Respiratory Therapist

Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Respiratory Therapist

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Key Points:

  • LVNs provide basic nursing care; Respiratory Therapists focus on treating respiratory conditions.
  • LVNs typically earn less than Respiratory Therapists, with the latter earning higher salaries on average.
  • Both fields are in demand.
  • LVNs can complete their training through in-person programs, while Respiratory Therapists often require a mix of online and in-person coursework.
  • LVN training is generally less expensive and shorter than Respiratory Therapists.

The healthcare industry is constantly growing, and the demand for skilled healthcare professionals is on the rise. Licensed Vocational Nurses and Respiratory Therapists are two important members of the healthcare team who work closely with patients to provide quality care. While both professions involve direct patient interaction, their roles and responsibilities differ significantly.

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What is a Licensed Vocational Nurse and Respiratory Therapist?

Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN): A Licensed Vocational Nurse, also known as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in some states, is a healthcare professional who provides basic nursing care under the supervision of registered nurses or physicians. They work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. LVNs are responsible for monitoring patients, administering medications, and assisting with daily activities such as bathing and dressing.

Respiratory Therapist: A Respiratory Therapist is a healthcare professional who specializes in the assessment, treatment, and management of patients with respiratory disorders. They work closely with physicians to develop and implement treatment plans for patients with chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD, and sleep apnea. Respiratory Therapists perform diagnostic tests, administer medications, and provide emergency care to patients experiencing respiratory distress.

Difference between a Licensed Vocational Nurse and Respiratory Therapist

While both Licensed Vocational Nurses and Respiratory Therapists provide direct patient care, there are several key differences between the two professions:

Job Responsibilities: The primary job responsibility of a Licensed Vocational Nurse is to provide basic nursing care to patients. They monitor vital signs, administer medications, and assist with daily activities. Respiratory Therapists, on the other hand, specialize in the treatment of respiratory disorders. They assess patients, perform diagnostic tests, and administer respiratory treatments.

Scope of Practice: Licensed Vocational Nurses work under the supervision of registered nurses or physicians and have a more limited scope of practice compared to Respiratory Therapists. While LVNs can administer medications and provide basic nursing care, Respiratory Therapists are trained to perform advanced respiratory treatments such as ventilator management and pulmonary rehabilitation.

Patient Population: Licensed Vocational Nurses work with a diverse patient population, including individuals of all ages and with various medical conditions. They may work in different healthcare settings, such as pediatric units, geriatric facilities, or surgical wards. Respiratory Therapists primarily work with patients who have respiratory disorders, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema. They may also provide care to patients in critical care units or emergency departments.

Specialized Skills: Respiratory Therapists have specialized training in the assessment and treatment of respiratory conditions, which includes knowledge of various respiratory therapies and equipment. They are trained to perform diagnostic tests such as pulmonary function tests and arterial blood gas analysis. Licensed Vocational Nurses, on the other hand, have a broader training in basic nursing skills and are responsible for providing comprehensive care to patients.

Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Respiratory Therapist: Job Description

Licensed Vocational Nurse: The job of a Licensed Vocational Nurse involves providing direct patient care, assisting with activities of daily living, administering medications, and monitoring patients' conditions. They work closely with registered nurses and physicians to ensure the well-being of their patients. LVNs also play a crucial role in educating patients and their families about their healthcare needs and providing emotional support.

Respiratory Therapist: Respiratory Therapists are responsible for evaluating patients with respiratory disorders, conducting diagnostic tests, and developing treatment plans. They administer respiratory treatments such as oxygen therapy, nebulizer treatments, and chest physiotherapy. Respiratory Therapists also provide patient education on managing respiratory conditions and assist in emergency situations such as cardiac arrest or respiratory distress.

Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Respiratory Therapist: Education and Training

Licensed Vocational Nurse: To become a Licensed Vocational Nurse, one must complete a state-approved vocational nursing program, which typically takes about one year to complete. These programs are offered at community colleges, vocational schools, and some hospitals. After completing the program, graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to become licensed.

Respiratory Therapist: The path to becoming a Respiratory Therapist typically involves completing an associate's degree program in respiratory therapy, which takes about two years. These programs are offered at community colleges and universities. After completing the program, graduates must pass the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) exam to become certified. Some Respiratory Therapists may choose to pursue additional certification as a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) by passing the NBRC Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exam.

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Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Respiratory Therapist: Career Outlook and Salary

Licensed Vocational Nurse: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of Licensed Vocational Nurses is projected to grow 9 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for Licensed Vocational Nurses was $47,480 in May 2020.

Respiratory Therapist: The employment of Respiratory Therapists is also projected to grow 19 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for Respiratory Therapists was $63,950 in May 2020, according to the BLS.

Final Thoughts

Both Licensed Vocational Nurses and Respiratory Therapists play important roles in the healthcare system and provide valuable care to patients. While there are similarities between the two professions, they do have distinct differences in terms of job responsibilities, scope of practice, and patient population. Ultimately, the choice between becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse or a Respiratory Therapist depends on your interests, skills, and career goals. Consider your strengths and preferences, and explore the educational and training requirements for each profession to make an informed decision about your future career in healthcare.

Dreambound's programs extend across various locations. Visit these blogs for a thorough exploration of the two vocations, encompassing details on their requirements and insights on how to get started:

Keziah Lim
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Keziah Lim
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