The difference between a registered nurse (RN) and a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) is related to the scope of the nurse's duties as defined by state regulations, according to Everest Colleges, Institutes and Universities. An RN is responsible for not only the patient's care, but assesses the patient and makes a plan for treatment while an LVN's duties are directly related to carrying out the RN's plan for the patient.
An RN takes on more responsibility when it comes to a patient's care. Common duties include consulting with doctors about patient care, educating patients and families, administering medication and treatment and evaluating a patient's condition based on previous medical history and the current plan for treatment. In order to become an RN, a bachelor's of science in nursing or an equivalent diploma from an accredited nursing program is required, as is a state-issued license.
An LVN also is required to obtain a license from the state and to graduate from a 1-year accredited program in nursing. An LVN's duties focus on less-specific areas of patient care, such as changing bandages, checking blood pressure, keeping records of those under their care and reporting the status of a patient's health to the RN in charge, as described by NursingLicensure.com.