Role Transition and Professional Nursing

Table of Content

As student nurses become professional nurses, they will only perform nursing tasks that align with their foundational education and any additional skills gained through further nursing education. These tasks must comply with the scope of practice defined by the board of Nursing.

In a range of healthcare settings, the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) can be found. These include hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, correctional facilities, and dental offices. While in these settings, the LPN performs specific nursing skills and procedures under supervision from professionals like RNs, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Medical Doctors or Dentists. Furthermore, they can delegate tasks to Certified Nurse Assistants or non-licensed assistants. The responsibilities of LPNs involve providing basic patient care and recording vital signs while gathering data on all body systems.

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The LPN is responsible for various tasks, such as wound care, patient preparation for diagnostic testing (including specimen collection), urinary catheter and naso-gastric tube insertion and care, as well as medication administration. However, LPNs are not allowed to administer IV push medications since this falls within the scope of practice for RNs (azbn, 2009). Additionally, LPNs can collect blood specimens. It is important to note that LPNs have a different educational level compared to professional nurses and may not perform at the same level.

The roles of the licensed practical nurse (LPN) and registered nurse (RN) differ in terms of tasks and responsibilities. While LPNs complete specific duties, RNs are responsible for coordinating and managing care plans. Transitioning from an LPN to an RN may result in concerns about increased legal responsibility.

RNs delegate tasks to both LPNs and nursing assistants. In addition, they have a more extensive education that includes a deeper understanding of anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, clinical practice, patient care, and team dynamics.

The RN is in charge of developing and executing nursing care plans, as well as providing emotional care to the client and sometimes their family (Helium, 2002-2009). The RN gives clear instructions and guidelines for delegated tasks and ensures that the Licensed practical nurse or the unlicensed assistant adheres to written policies and procedures when performing these tasks. The RN monitors and communicates the results of delegated tasks and offers feedback. The RN has the ability to critically analyze and make clinical decisions based on evidence-based practices integrated into the nursing process.

The licensed practical nurse lacks the supervisory abilities of a registered nurse. The concept of clinical judgment can be worrisome for the professional nurse, as their decision-making skills may be scrutinized and they may be undermined when expected to possess the knowledge and abilities of other healthcare professionals in order to provide high-quality patient care (Jones, 1996). The professional nurse is accountable for various aspects related to both the patient and their profession. They are responsible for exercising nursing judgment and taking appropriate actions.

The professional nurse must be socially responsible and exhibit appropriate behavior. Ethically, the nurse must adhere to agreed-upon principles of moral conduct, while also advocating for the patient in a legal sense. Both the patient and the professional are accountable in healthcare. Autonomy is a key aspect of nursing, encompassing self-determination, self-direction, independent collaboration with other professionals, and individual work responsibilities (Keenan, 1999).

The professional nurse must have the skills and knowledge to work independently and make important decisions without anyone else present for assessment. Nurses spend a significant amount of time with patients, which allows them to provide detailed reports to physicians. This helps doctors make informed choices about patient care. The doctor heavily relies on the nurse’s expertise, which is based on her critical thinking abilities and support from other professional nurses and unlicensed professionals (Raymond, 2005).

The pharmacy plays a crucial role in collaborating with the patient’s outcome. It relies on the orders of both the physician and nurse who administer the drug. The professional nurse depends on the pharmacy for accurate dosing when there are discrepancies in dosage. Additionally, other specialties like occupational therapists and physical therapists depend on the physician’s orders and the professional nurse’s knowledge of the patient’s treatment history and effectiveness.

This revolving circle of healthcare professionals is crucial for ensuring positive patient outcomes. As new nurses evolve and become competent in their profession, it is important for them to incorporate leadership fundamentals. Leadership skills primarily revolve around effective communication. Nurses must possess the ability to actively listen and comprehend information, take notes, and encourage questions. Additionally, registered nurses (RNs) must lead the group in a professional manner and possess conflict resolution skills. They should explore various techniques to find a suitable solution for any given situation. Ultimately, professional nurses play a vital role in setting the tone and serving as an example for others.

This is a valuable method for demonstrating the appropriate behavior to others. When assigning tasks to a subordinate, the RN must have knowledge of the worker’s abilities. While a license grants the same practice scope to all licensed individuals, not all licenses require the same level of education and experience, leading to variations in job functions. The professional nurse must possess counseling skills to address workplace issues as they arise. The RN will demonstrate effective teaching techniques and provide clear explanations for skills. The RN will also be able to select appropriate learning objectives.

The professional nurse will remain committed to learning and adapting to new technology in nursing care (Raymond, 2005). The professional RN demonstrates leadership skills by making clinical decisions, delegating tasks, and prioritizing the health and safety of the public (csbn, 2010). Boards of Nursing are responsible for regulating the practice of nursing and ensuring that any care or activity representing nursing meets regulatory standards.

The professional Registered Nurse (RN) will assign nursing care to other RNs, who will then assign nursing care to a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). The LPN’s scope of practice is determined by the RN’s evaluation of the client. In order to maintain accountability for delegation, an RN must ensure that the unlicensed assistant has the necessary education, legal authority, and competency to perform the task assigned. The tasks delegated by the nurse align with the unlicensed assistant’s job description, and the RN determines that the delegated task can be performed safely.

The registered nurse (RN) will give clear instructions and guidelines to both licensed and unlicensed individuals to ensure that each facility’s written policy or procedure is performed correctly. The RN, as a professional, will supervise and give feedback to these individuals, as well as observe and communicate the results of the delegated task (azbn, 2009). Additionally, the licensed RN must have the responsibility and accountability for managing and providing staff. Nursing is a knowledge-based discipline and cannot be simply reduced to a list of duties. The nurse will not delegate tasks that they themselves would not do.

The professional nurse ensures that all equipment necessary for the task is available. The specialized education and professional judgment of nurses are crucial for providing quality nursing care. As student nurses acquire more knowledge and skills in leadership, they will have the chance to assess their acquired skills and demonstrate leadership in a clinical setting when transitioning from LPN to RN. During this transitional phase, nurses will learn to be autonomous and feel confident. The level of responsibility for the professional nurse is more intricate compared to that of the licensed practical nurse.

In comparison to the two, the RN will possess the necessary skills to critically think and make prompt and effective decisions for patient care. By assigning duties to licensed and unlicensed individuals, the professional nurse can prioritize tasks. As the nurse transitions, they assume a leadership role for both the patient and colleagues. By assigning duties to licensed and unlicensed individuals, the professional nurse can prioritize tasks.


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  3. Keenan, J. (1999) A concept analysis of autonomy. Journal of Advanced Nursing 29 (3) : 56-562
  4. National council of state boards of nursing Inc. (2010). Retrieved from http://www. ncsbn. org
  5. Standards related to Registered Nurse Scope of Practice. (2009) Retrieved from, www. azbn. gov
  6. Nurse/Physician Collaboration necessary for better care. (2005). Journal of Nursing Administration, 36(5), 6-8.

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Role Transition and Professional Nursing. (2018, Feb 27). Retrieved from

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