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CNA Training & Classes | December 18, 2017

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Differences Between CNA, LPN, RN and Other Nurses

As a member of the healthcare team, you play a very important role in caring for the residents and working together with other staff like technicians, physicians, nurse practitioners, therapists, social workers, support staff, dieticians, and administration staff. The entire team should work hand in hand in order to meet the facility’s mission to provide quality care to all residents.

Nursing staff members include Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses and Nursing Assistants. Each of them has different responsibilities to portray and they individually contribute to the well-being of the residents:

Registered Nurses

RN’s are responsible in implementing the medical plan of care given by the physician and the nursing care plan made by the nursing staff. They assess every resident and change the nursing care whenever possible in order to meet the needs of the patients. They also collaborate with therapists and other staff to ensure the resident’s well-being especially those that are critical and needs to be monitored. RN’s are responsible in assigning unlicensed assistive staff members in everyday personal care activities and supervise their work. Although Registered Nurses are highly regarded in the medical field, they are also supervised by the facility’s Director of Nursing based on the Nurse Practice Act of the state, outlining the practice competencies and limitations of the profession. RN’s can supervise fellow nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Unlicensed Assistive Personnel (UAPs).

Licensed Practical Nurses

Similar to Registered Nurses, LPNs implement both medical and nursing plans for the residents but with the supervision of the RN. They also provide treatment, administer prescribed medications and document every care given based on the scope of practice made by the Board of Nursing or other licensing body approved by the state. Licensed Practical Nurses can also supervise UAP’s and their duties are expanded whenever they undergo additional trainings or credentials.

CNA- Certified Nursing Assistants & Aides

Nursing Assistant/Patient Care Assistant/Technician (PCA/PCT) or Nurse Aide (CNA): CNA (PCA/PCT) provides care and carry out duties with the supervision of a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse. They have a unique position in the medical field as they are the primary responder at the client’s bedside. CNA’s are considered as the eyes, ears and hands of Registered Nurses because they are the primary healthcare professional to identify the needs of the residents especially if the condition is life-threatening.

As a nursing assistant, you will be spending more time with the residents compared to other members of the healthcare team. Since you have close interactions with them, you will be their advocate and you will be communicating their needs whenever they cannot do so. Being an advocate means that you also serve as the resident’s first-line of defense especially in situations where their health or well-being is threatened. For instance, you will be the first healthcare professional to report the change of resident’s vital signs signalling possible infection. You will also be the first person to notice any signs of skin irritation that might develop bedsore. Since you will be spending more time with the resident, you will be seeing clearly all the subtle changes of his/her behaviour that can lead to serious infection. These examples are just few of the situations wherein you play a unique role in the healthcare team.