What’s the Difference between LPNs and CNAs?

Interested in pursuing a rewarding healthcare career? You may be surprised to learn there are incredibly fulfilling healthcare jobs that do not require years of education. LPNs (licensed practical nurses) and CNAs (certified nursing assistants) both play critical roles in many healthcare facilities, treating patients with all types of conditions and disabilities. While there are many similarities between these roles, they each serve the varying needs of patients. According to NurseJournal.org, LPNs have more responsibility and autonomy than CNAs, resulting in varying salaries and educational requirements for each of these roles. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from each occupation – and how they differ in terms of qualifications and responsibilities:


Educational and Training Requirements

Though there are no extensive requirements for each role, some education and training must be completed. LPNs must graduate from an accredited LPN program at a vocational, technical, or community college and pass the National Council Licensure Examination to qualify for state licensure. While there is a required state certification exam to become a CNA, there are no formal educational requirements. CNAs generally receive on-the-job training and practical, hands-on experience from their employers.



While LPNs and CPNs both spend the majority of their time on the job caring for patients, their responsibilities differ significantly. The duties of LPNs are heavily focused on performing medical-related tasks for patients, such as administering medication, taking vital signs, assisting physicians, and updating medical records. On the other hand, CNAs are predominately involved in assisting patients with their basic needs, such as feeding, eating, or dressing. CNAs also complete many housekeeping tasks, such as making beds and cleaning up patient rooms.


Healthcare Settings

Both LPNs and CNAs are needed in a variety of healthcare environments. These include nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living facilities, and home healthcare settings. However, LPNs frequently work in physician offices, where CNAs are typically unnecessary. Regarding places to work, LPNs generally have a broader scope of expertise, giving them more employment options.


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