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Definitions of Nursing Roles

Registered nurse (RN): An individual who has graduated from a state-approved school of nursing, passed the NCLEX-RN Examination and is licensed by a state board of nursing to provide patient care.

Licensed practical/vocational nurse (LPN/VN): An individual who has completed a state-approved practical or vocational nursing program, passed the NCLEX-PN Examination, and is licensed by a state board of nursing to provide patient care. Normally works under the supervision of a registered nurse, advanced practice registered nurse or physician.

Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN): An RN who has a graduate degree and advanced knowledge. There are four categories of APRNs: certified nurse-midwife (CNM), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), certified nurse practitioner (CNP) or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). These nurses can diagnose illnesses, and prescribe treatments and medications.

Certified medication aide/assistant (MA-C): A person who is certified to administer medication under the supervision of a nurse.

Certified nursing aides/assistant (CNA): A person who is certified to assist with the delivery of direct nursing care to patients. Works under the supervision of a nurse.

Unlicensed administrative personnel (UAP): Any unlicensed person, regardless of title, who performs tasks delegated by a nurse. This includes certified nursing aides/assistants (CNAs), patient care assistants (PCAs), patient care technicians (PCTs), state tested nursing assistants (STNA), nursing assistants-registered (NA/Rs) or certified medication aides/assistants (MA-Cs). Certification of UAPs varies between jurisdictions.