Nursing Roles

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)- A person trained in basic nursing techniques and direct patient care who practices under the supervision of a Registered Nurse. Also called Patient Care Tech, or Nurse’s Aide.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)-A licensed practical nurse is not a registered nurse. Also called a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) in some states, an LPN has taken a 12- to 14-month post-high school educational course that focuses on basic nursing care. LPNs also must pass a licensing exam (the NCLEX-PN).

Registered Nurse (RN)-a graduate trained nurse who has been licensed by a state authority after passing qualifying examinations for registration — called also RN. To achieve the RN title, an individual must graduate from a state-approved school of nursing—either a four-year university program, a two-year associate nursing degree program, or a three-year diploma program—and pass a state RN licensing examination called the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Associate Degree Nurse (ADN)-a licensed nurse who attended two-year program granting an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) prepares individuals for a defined technical scope of practice. Set in the framework of general education, the clinical and classroom components prepares ADN nurses for nursing roles that require nursing theory and technical proficiency. Many RNs whose first degree is an ADN return to school during their working life to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher.

RN with Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)-A licensed RN who furthers their education with a four-year university-that provides the nursing theory, sciences, humanities, and behavioral science preparation necessary for the full scope of professional nursing responsibilities, and provides the knowledge based necessary for advanced education in specialized clinical practice, research, or primary health care.

Source: Mosby Medical Nursing, & Allied Health Dictionary, 6th Ed 2002,