The most recognized title for a nurse is RN, or Registered Nurse. RNs are the foundation of any medical facility. These healthcare workers go through a rigorous study and testing process to become the people we depend on each time we visit a hospital, clinic, or emergency room.
With over 100 nursing specialties, it is not difficult to confuse what one type of nurse does with another. Unfortunately, regardless of their title, these hard-working caretakers are injured on the job more than any demographic of worker in the United States.
Requirements For Becoming An RN
An RN is a nurse who holds at least one of three accredited nursing degrees: An Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Nursing (BSN), or a diploma from a certified nursing program. An ADN can take between 2 and 3 years on average, whereas a BSN is a four-year undergraduate degree.
In addition, an RN must pass a test called the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, or the NCLEX-RN. Prospective nurses must pass this five-hour-long exam to indicate to the state board of nursing that they are eligible to work as an RN. The exam tests a nursing student’s ability to cater to several client needs, including:
- Health Promotion and Upkeep
- Psychological and Physiological Integrity
- Safe and Efficient Care Environment
It may be difficult for those who do not work in the medical field to distinguish the difference between the nurse who takes their blood pressure and the nurse who administers a blood test. The difference lies in the degree a nurse holds: RN or LPN.
Difference Between RN and LPN
RNs have at least two to three years of schooling which focuses on the scientific aspects of the behavioral, social, and physical realms of nursing. In addition, RNs have actual clinical experience worked into their curriculum.
LPN coursework may include a combination of biology, pharmacology, and nursing studies. Coursework for LPN degrees are usually done at technical schools or community colleges and take about a year to complete. Supervised experience in clinics may also work as a part of an LPN’s education.
The duties of an RN and an LPN also vary considerably. LPNs can check blood pressure, insert catheters, help patients bathe, help patients get dressed and undressed, and talk about health care options. LPNs typically report patient information to doctors and RNs.
RNs, however, are allowed to do much more than LPNs. In addition to being responsible for managing nurses, LPNs, and at-home aides, RNs may distribute medication to patients, create patient plans for care, analyze diagnostic tests they performed themselves, and teach patients how to care for themselves after being discharged.
The amount of compensation an RN receives is very dependent on experience, the employer, and the state. However, the national average for RN salaries is $67,490, or $32.50 per hour. The upper echelon of RN annual salaries boasts around $75,000 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. An LPN, however, makes on average almost $20k less than a registered nurse per year.
From the breakdown of the differences between LPNs and RNs above, it is clear that RNs receive more education, have a wider range of duties, and make more money than LPNs. Nonetheless, every job has its ups and downs.
The Pros Of Being An RN
The great thing about becoming an RN is that the field is growing and jobs are plentiful. In terms of job security, the number of working RNs are expected to increase by 16% between 2014 and 2024, with over 430,000 new RNs. This is great news, especially in our recovering economy.
Making A Difference
While doctors make diagnoses, perform procedures, and write prescriptions, nurses are the “boots on the ground” in the healthcare world. They are the ones who spend the most time with patients, comfort the families of hurt loved ones, and build relationships with their patients. Those who choose to enter the nursing field can rest assured that the work they do every day makes a real and tangible difference to many, many people.
The Cons Of Being An RN
There is no job that does not have its downsides. Some cons of the nursing field include inconvenient hours, workplace stress, and being around people who could potentially be contagious. Unfortunately for nurses, workplace injury is one of the biggest downsides of the job.
Workplace injury occurs when a person is hurt while at work due to dangerous conditions or circumstances that occurred. The two main ways that RNs get injured on the job is by lifting and moving patients, and by dealing with violent patients.
A nurse cares for those who, in some capacity, cannot care for themselves. Sometimes, this care is minor. Administering medicine, taking blood pressure, and regulating body temperature are among some of the less taxing duties nurses have. However, sometimes nurses have to physically lift and move their patients. Whether the patient needs assistance lying down, using the restroom, showering, or even doing physical therapy, the nurse may be responsible for carrying a lot of body weight several times throughout the day.
The stress that lifting can cause on a person is substantial. From back injuries, to neck injuries, to strains and aches, nurses can miss a significant amount of time at work due to injuries caused from lifting patients.
In the regrettable circumstance that a patient acts out violently towards a nurse, there is only so much a nurse can do to protect him or herself from injury. Recent episodes of workplace injury due to patient violence include nurses who were beaten with a bed rail, nurses who were stabbed, and a nurse who almost had her ear ripped off.
Sometimes, the injury an RN sustains from an incident at work can be career-ending. Some severe injuries include carpal tunnel, back injuries, and bone injuries. These types of injuries have the potential to limit a worker’s ability to do their job on a long-term basis. In this horrible circumstance, RNs can pursue a disability claim by consulting with a workers’ compensation lawyer.
Where Can RNs Turn When Injured?
Unfortunately, as the above information details, it’s all too common for RNs to face injury from an incident at work. Luckily, RNs have many resources.
Your Alma Mater
You may be able to reach out to support networks, alumnae groups, and advocacy centers at your own alma mater. Some local schools include:
- The Community College of Philadelphia
- Drexel University
- Holy Family University
- La Salle University
- Lincoln Technical Institute
- Northeastern Hospital School of Nursing
- Philadelphia University
- Roxborough Memorial Hospital School of Nursing
- Saint Joseph’s University
- Temple University
- Thomas Jefferson University
- University of Pennsylvania
Beyond your alma mater, it may be wise to consult with a lawyer to seek compensation for your medical bills, you missed wages, and more.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
At Bulldog Lawyers, we will stop at nothing to make sure that the people who take care of us, our nurses, are taken care of. When you’re injured on the job, the last thing you want to worry about is paying your bills. That’s where workers’ compensation attorneys come in. Here’s how we can help:
Collecting Medical Records
An attorney can help you collect the medical records that would be relevant to present in a workers’ compensation case. As workers’ compensation attorneys, we know what records will be crucial to proving that the injury you sustained A) happened at work, and B) requires compensation. We will do the hard work of weeding through the records to determine what is necessary and what is not.
Collecting Witness Testimony
Often, you are not the only person present at the time of your accident. Witnesses who saw the accident or injury occur may be able to provide testimony that will help solidify your workers’ compensation. A lawyer will be able to identify the best witnesses, contact them, and make sure they are available to provide a testimony to help substantiate your claim.
What Does The Future Look Like For RNs?
Fortunately, steps are being taken to make sure that injuries are prevented for RNs. Two of these measures include safe handling programs and mechanical lifts.
Safe Handling Programs
Safe Handling Programs are being implemented so that RNs can be instructed on how to safely lift and move patients so as to avoid injury to themselves.
Hospitals are also purchasing mechanical lifts to do the work that nurses used to do. Where nurses would have to assemble teams of people to lift any one particularly large patient, mechanical lifts now have the ability to lift the patients for them.