I have an active RN license. Can I work in an LVN position?
Nancy Brent replies:
Your question was rather short, so it is difficult to respond with any details. However, the first issue that needs to be addressed is whether you have a license as an LVN. If you are thinking that because you have an active and unencumbered RN license, you can fulfill an LVN position because it is a lesser one, you are entirely incorrect. A review of the state nurse practice act where you work will state the requirements for both an RN and LVN license and their respective scopes of practice. One does not substitute for the other.
If you have an active and unencumbered LVN license in addition to an RN license, then you can work as an LVN if you choose and if the state nurse practice act does not prohibit this. However, you must be certain that you practice as an LVN, consistent with the act and rules and the employers requirements for patient care as an LVN.
Moreover, the employer cannot hire you as an LVN and use your skills, education, and expertise as an RN in that role. You hold the key to ensuring that this does not occur. Here is where the legal pitfalls exist when having two licenses and functioning in the lesser role. It is difficult at best to leave your RN focus and pick up the LVN focus of care.
You would be wise to think very carefully about this, and you may want to consult with a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who can help you sort out the two roles and scope of practice.
Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.