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Supervision in Nursing

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who may supervise nursing personnel, such as LPNs and unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP)?

    The Nurse Practice Act is the law that defines professional nursing and practical nursing.  The definition of professional nursing, which is the practice of a registered nurse (RN), includes “supervising and teaching nursing personnel.”

    • Supervision is not included within the definition of practical nursing but monitoring is an authorized function of practical nursing.

    • The legal definitions of supervision and monitoring are in the Board of Nursing Rules, Minnesota Rules Part 6321.0100.

    Because nursing supervision includes delegating, planning, directing and evaluating nursing practice, the Board advises nurses and employers of nurses:

    • An RN may delegate to and supervise nursing personnel;

    • An LPN is not legally authorized to supervise nursing personnel.  An LPN may monitor the practice of other LPNs and UAPs and report to an RN supervisor; and 

    • A non-nurse may not supervise nursing functions or evaluate the performance of the nursing personnel in carrying out delegated nursing functions.

  • How is an RN accountable in supervising others?

    The RN in any setting is accountable for assigning aspects of nursing care to others, licensed and unlicensed.

    • Even if an assistant has a special title, such as aide or technician, the decision to delegate nursing care and to provide adequate supervision rests with the RN. 

    • RNs must be aware of their responsibilities in delegation and supervision.  They also should take into account the many and varied factors that must be considered in determining whether or not to delegate and if the RN does decide to delegate, which provisions should be in place to ensure the delegation is appropriate and safe for the client. 

    • The definition of supervision does not specify whether the supervision is provided directly or indirectly.  An RN may, based on professional judgment, determine whether RN presence in the care setting is necessary or if being available for consultation is sufficient. 

    • Each nurse is accountable for his or her actions when supervising or monitoring other personnel.

  • I am an RN who works the evening shift in a facility when an LPN is assigned as the facility nursing supervisor. Is it okay for an LPN to supervise an RN?

    Similar questions are asked by LPNs and others concerned with whether or not it is ever appropriate for an LPN to be in a position that requires the LPN to supervise or monitor an RN.  The short answer is NO—an LPN may not supervise nor monitor an RN.  An LPN may monitor LPNs and UAPs and report to an RN supervisor.  Professional nursing practice constitutes a higher level of skill and knowledge than does practical nursing practice.  Therefore, it is not appropriate for an LPN to be the designated supervisor of an RN or to evaluate RN practice.

    The Board advises the title “supervisor” not be used for a position for which an LPN is assigned.