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What Are the Differences Between an RN vs LVN?

Whether you’re considering a career change or just entering the workforce, there is a significant need for nurses. 

With the different acronyms and titles, it can take time to determine which type of degree you want and the kind of nurse you want to be. 

All nurses are responsible for providing care to patients and residents, but the amount of care they offer is what makes these titles different. 

At The Kensington Redondo Beach, we have positions for licensed vocational nurses, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses. 

Learn more about classes you may need to take as an aspiring nurse, the differences between an RN vs LVN, and how to start and grow your nursing career in senior living. 

We’ll also cover the career benefits of nursing and how to join The Kensington team

Classes for aspiring nurses

Nursing students typically take a range of different courses to prepare them for their careers. 

Classes may include: 

  • Anatomy and physiology 
  • Nursing fundamentals
  • Pharmacology 
  • Medical-surgical nursing 
  • Pediatrics
  • Mental health nursing 
  • Medical terminology 
  • Gerontology 

These courses will help nurses learn the structure and function of the human body, how to care for patients with medical conditions and mental disorders, and safe medication administration. 

Basic courses in each of these subjects may be required regardless of which nursing position you intend to pursue.

In addition to these core nursing classes, licensed nursing programs typically include clinical experiences, which allow students to apply their knowledge and skills in a real-world setting under the supervision of a licensed nurse.

Registered nurse (RN) vs licensed vocational nurses (LVN)

Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and registered nurses (RNs) are both healthcare professionals who provide nursing care to patients. 

However, the two positions differ in their education, training, and scope of practice. 


LVNs typically have a shorter and more focused education program than RNs. 

LVN programs usually last about one year and focus on practical nursing skills, while RN programs can take up to four years and include a more comprehensive curriculum that includes both practical and theoretical components. 


LVNs receive training in basic nursing skills, such as taking vital signs, administering medications, and assisting with basic patient care. 

RNs, on the other hand, receive more advanced training that includes nursing theory, patient assessment, and the development and implementation of nursing care plans. 

Scope of practice

LVNs are limited in the types of tasks they can perform and the patients they can care for. 

They typically work under the supervision of RNs or other healthcare professionals and are not authorized to perform certain tasks. These tasks include administering medications through intravenous (IV) lines or performing advanced assessments. 

RNs have a broader scope of practice and are authorized to perform a wider range of tasks, including administering medications and advanced examinations.

Licensed vocational nurse (LVN) vs licensed practical nurse (LPN) 

Licensed vocational nurses and licensed practical nurses are both positions that require a certain level of education and licensing exam completion. 

Both LVNs and LPNs work under the supervision of registered nurses and doctors and may be responsible for tasks such as administering medications, dressing wounds, and monitoring residents’ vital signs. 

There are some differences between LVNs and LPNs, however. 

LVN positions typically require less training and education than LPNs and may have more limited responsibilities and scope of practice. 

LVN programs generally take about one year to complete, while LPN programs can take up to two years.

Overall, both LVNs and LPNs play important roles in the healthcare system and are responsible for providing essential nursing care to patients or residents.

The role of a nurse in senior living communities

Nurses in senior living communities are responsible for providing direct care to residents, which may include administering medications, dressing wounds, and monitoring vital signs. 

However, only RNs can administer medications through an IV and offer diabetes injections.

LVNs and LPNs will work under an RN, and coordinate care with other health professionals, such as doctors, physical therapists, and social workers, to ensure that residents receive the best possible care. 

While both LVNs and LPNs can conduct regular assessments of residents’ health, including vital signs, checking for illness or injury, and detecting changes in residents’ health status, only RNs may perform advanced diagnostic tests and manage medical equipment.

Each type of nurse may educate residents, their families, and other staff members on disease management and healthy aging and develop care plans. 

It’s also up to all nurses to provide emotional support and compassion and maintain records of residents’ health.

The benefits of a career in senior living

There are many benefits to having a nursing career in a senior living community. 

Help others

Working in a senior living community allows you to make a positive impact on the lives of older adults and families. Nursing often offers a sense of purpose and fulfillment as you can make a difference in the lives of others.

Professional growth

Nursing in the senior living industry can provide opportunities for professional growth and advancement, as well as opportunities to learn new skills and technologies. 


Many senior living communities offer flexible scheduling options, which is beneficial for working parents, students, and those with additional life responsibilities. 

Work-life balance

At The Kensington, we offer a supportive and collaborative work environment, which helps to promote work-life balance. Many other communities strive for this type of environment as well. 

Competitive benefits

Many senior living communities offer competitive benefits packages, including health insurance, retirement savings plans, and paid time off. 

Join The Kensington Redondo Beach family 

The Kensington Redondo Beach is an assisted living and memory care community that offers enhanced care to seniors.

Our Promise is to love and care for our residents as we do our own family—and that promise is extended to our staff.

Whether you’re already a nurse or you’re still in school, we have a place for you on our team. 

Our senior living community may be the perfect place for you if you are compassionate about helping others and making a difference in their lives. 

We strive to treat our team like family and offer excellent employee benefits. 

Some of these benefits include: 

  • Competitive salaries
  • Health, life, 401K & other benefits starting at 30 hrs/wk
  • Generous paid time off
  • Employee assistance program
  • Complimentary lunches & dinners
  • Annual Performance Review & Increases 
  • Continuous Educational Paid Trainings

Contact us or check out our blog to learn more about our senior living communities, part or full-time positions, volunteer opportunities, and upcoming events.

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