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Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Surgical Technician

Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Surgical Technician

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Key Points:

  • Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) provide basic nursing care, while Surgical Technicians assist surgeons during operations.
  • LVNs typically earn a lower hourly rate than Surgical Technicians.
  • Both fields are in demand, with Surgical Technician jobs projected to grow faster than LVN positions.
  • LVN programs are usually completed in-person, while Surgical Technician training can be found in-person or online.
  • LVN programs are generally shorter and less expensive than Surgical Technician training.

Are you interested in the medical field but unsure which career path to pursue? Two popular options to consider are becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) or a Surgical Technician. Both of these professions play important roles in healthcare settings, but they have distinct differences in terms of job duties, education requirements, and career outlook. In this blog post, we will explore the key aspects of each profession to help you make an informed decision about your future career.

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What is a Licensed Vocational Nurse and Surgical Technician?

Before diving into the details, let's start with a brief overview of what Licensed Vocational Nurses and Surgical Technicians do.

Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

Licensed Vocational Nurses, also known as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) in some states, are healthcare professionals who provide basic nursing care under the supervision of Registered Nurses (RNs) and physicians. They work in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and home health agencies.

LVNs perform a wide range of duties, including:

  • Taking vital signs, such as blood pressure, temperature, and pulse
  • Administering medications and injections
  • Assisting with patient assessments and care plans
  • Dressing wounds and changing bandages
  • Monitoring patients' conditions and reporting any changes to the healthcare team
  • Providing emotional support to patients and their families

Surgical Technician

Surgical Technicians, also known as Operating Room Technicians or Surgical Technologists, play a crucial role in the operating room. They work alongside surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to ensure a safe and sterile environment during surgical procedures.

The primary responsibilities of Surgical Technicians include:

  • Preparing the operating room by sterilizing and arranging surgical instruments and equipment
  • Assisting the surgical team in donning sterile gowns and gloves
  • Passing instruments and supplies to the surgeon during procedures
  • Operating and maintaining surgical equipment, such as lights and suction machines
  • Anticipating the needs of the surgical team and proactively responding to them
  • Ensuring the proper disposal of contaminated items and cleaning the operating room after procedures

Difference between a Licensed Vocational Nurse and Surgical Technician

Now that we have a basic understanding of the roles of Licensed Vocational Nurses and Surgical Technicians, let's explore the key differences between these two professions.

  • Scope of Practice: Licensed Vocational Nurses provide direct patient care, including administering medications and performing wound care. Surgical Technicians, on the other hand, focus primarily on assisting in surgical procedures and maintaining a sterile environment in the operating room.

  • Work Setting: LVNs work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. They may also provide in-home care for patients. Surgical Technicians primarily work in operating rooms, although they may also find employment in outpatient surgical centers and labor and delivery departments.

  • Patient Interaction: LVNs have significant direct patient contact and often serve as the primary caregiver for their patients. They provide emotional support, educate patients and their families about healthcare procedures, and advocate for their patients' needs. Surgical Technicians, while working in a team environment, have limited direct patient interaction and primarily focus on supporting the surgical team during procedures.

  • Responsibilities: LVNs have a broader scope of practice compared to Surgical Technicians. They are responsible for assessing patients, developing care plans, and implementing nursing interventions. Surgical Technicians, on the other hand, are responsible for maintaining a sterile environment, passing instruments, and providing support to the surgical team.

Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Surgical Technician: Job Description

To get a better understanding of the day-to-day responsibilities of Licensed Vocational Nurses and Surgical Technicians, let's take a closer look at their job descriptions.

Licensed Vocational Nurse

As an LVN, your job description may include:

  • Conducting patient assessments and collecting health histories
  • Administering medications and treatments as prescribed
  • Monitoring patients' vital signs and reporting any abnormalities
  • Assisting with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and feeding
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals to develop and implement patient care plans
  • Providing emotional support to patients and their families

Surgical Technician

As a Surgical Technician, your job description may include:

  • Preparing the operating room for surgeries, ensuring all necessary supplies and equipment are available and sterile
  • Assisting in positioning patients on the operating table
  • Passing instruments and supplies to the surgical team during procedures
  • Anticipating the needs of the surgical team and providing assistance as required
  • Operating and maintaining surgical equipment
  • Cleaning and restocking the operating room after procedures

Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Surgical Technician: Education and Training

To become a Licensed Vocational Nurse or a Surgical Technician, you will need to complete specific education and training programs.

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Licensed Vocational Nurse

The educational path to becoming an LVN typically involves the following steps:

  1. Education: Complete a state-approved Licensed Vocational Nursing program, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. These programs are offered by community colleges, vocational schools, and some hospitals.

  2. Licensure: After completing the educational program, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to become licensed as an LVN. The specific requirements for licensure vary by state.

Surgical Technician

The path to becoming a Surgical Technician usually involves the following steps:

  1. Education: Complete a surgical technology program, which can range from a diploma program to an associate degree program. These programs are typically offered by community colleges and vocational schools.

  2. Certification: While certification is not always required, it can enhance your job prospects and demonstrate your competency. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential, which requires passing an exam.

Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Surgical Technician: Career Outlook and Salary

When considering a career path, it's important to have an understanding of the job market and potential earnings. Here is an overview of the career outlook and salary potential for Licensed Vocational Nurses and Surgical Technicians.

Licensed Vocational Nurse

  • Career Outlook: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses is projected to grow 9 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for healthcare services is expected to increase due to the aging population and the need for long-term care. LVNs with experience in geriatrics and home health may have particularly favorable job prospects.

  • Salary: The median annual wage for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses was $48,820 in May 2020, with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $34,560 and the highest 10 percent earning more than $63,360. The actual salary can vary based on factors such as experience, location, and work setting.

Surgical Technician

  • Career Outlook: The employment of Surgical Technologists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for surgical procedures is expected to continue to rise as the population grows and ages. Surgical Technologists who are certified and have experience in multiple specialties may have the best job prospects.

  • Salary: The median annual wage for Surgical Technologists was $49,710 in May 2020, with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $35,920 and the highest 10 percent earning more than $72,070. The actual salary can vary depending on factors such as experience, certification, and geographic location.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a career in the medical field can be rewarding and fulfilling, but it's important to carefully consider your options before making a decision. Both Licensed Vocational Nurses and Surgical Technicians play vital roles in patient care, but they have distinct differences in terms of job duties, education requirements, and career outlook.

If you enjoy providing direct patient care and want to work in a variety of healthcare settings, becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you are interested in surgical procedures and prefer working in the operating room, pursuing a career as a Surgical Technician may be a better fit.

Ultimately, the decision between these two professions depends on your personal preferences, career goals, and interests. It's essential to research and explore both options thoroughly to make an informed decision that aligns with your passion and long-term aspirations.

Discover Dreambound's program accessibility across various locations. For detailed insights into the two vocations, their requirements, and joining procedures, explore the following blogs:

Vduani Martinez
Written by
Vduani Martinez

Vduani Martinez is a part of the Growth team at Dreambound. She creates and fixes workflows and automation to guarantee seamless operations. On top of that, she manages databases to ensure all information is up to date. Vduani is a licensed Electronics Engineer who loves coffee and is a travel enthusiast. Out of the office, she enjoys going on road trips and discovering new cafes and restaurants.

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