Vogelsmeier said RNs often are underutilized in nursing homes, though their clinical education and experience give them a greater sense of the “bigger picture,” which leads to better outcomes.
“Right now in the industry, RNs and LPNs often are used interchangeably but inappropriately,” Vogelsmeier said. ‘The solution is not to replace LPNs with RNs but to create collaborative arrangements in which they work together to maximize the skill sets of each to provide the best possible care for patients.”
She says assigning RNs and LPNs complementary roles that maximize their unique abilities will improve patient care and satisfaction. Additionally, Vogelsmeier said offering LPNs enhanced training opportunities may help them build the cognitive skills necessary to work in the current nursing home environment.
“Nursing home care is more complex than it was 10 years ago,” Vogelsmeier said. “People used to move into nursing homes and stay there the rest of their lives, but now they’re using nursing homes to transition between hospitals and their homes. Patients in nursing homes are sicker, and their stays are shorter. That demands better nursing staff coordination of care.”
The study, “Medication Reconciliation in Nursing Homes: Thematic Differences Between RN and LPN Staff,” was published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing and was funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation and the University of Iowa Gerontological Nursing Interventions Research Center.