CNA vs. Other Nursing Positions

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), Registered nurses (RNs), and Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are different types of healthcare providers in the nursing profession. Both CNAs and LPNs work under the supervision of the registered nurse. Let’s understand how CNA compares to the two other nursing positions.

Roles: A RN decides the plan of care for a patient, and evaluates patient data. An LPN assists the registered nurse and provides basic nursing care to all patients. A CNA provides basic care to the patients while working under the supervision of the LPN and the RN.

Education: The RN completes a four years degree or a graduate program from a state-approved nursing program. The LPN completes a one year accredited program at a vocational or community college, and has to pass the NCLEX-PN exam. To work as an LPN in a particular state in the US, one also applies for a license from the respective state board of nursing. CNAs on the other hand, complete a post-secondary training program in which they learn about the nursing profession and the clinical practice.

Responsibilities of an RN, LPN and a CNA.


  • Provides treatments prescribed by the physician
  • Operates medical equipment
  • Observes and records patient data
  • Guides and plans tasks for LPNs and CNAs


  • Assists the RN
  • Provides basic care for patients
  • Administers medications
  • Collects vital signs and other basic patient data
  • Reports any emergencies or change in patient status to the RN


  • Answers calls when patients need help
  • Assists patients with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing up, feeding meals, making beds
  • Transports patients
  • Takes vital signs
  • Reports any emergencies or change in patient status to the RN