LPN to RN Programs
Many Licensed Practical Nurses are satisfied with their jobs, find work incredibly rewarding and have no reason to go back to school or spend significant amounts of time climbing up the corporate ladder. However, there are also LPNs who want to advance to a different bedside or executive position or who want to change their specialization or work environment. If you are among the latter, this article is for you. Here is everything you need to know to make an informed decision about the next step you should take in your career, as well as how to successfully transition towards a higher or different academic path.
Did you know that you can study to become a RN after completion of your LPN qualification. You probably already know that Registered Nurses (RNs) are in demand across the country. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that Registered Nurses make up the largest portion of the health care field, and projects the need for RNs to increase by twenty to thirty five percent in the next two years. One of the reasons for the boom in demand for RNs is the standardization of the nursing license, which allows nurses to easily transfer their license to any state. For nurses working as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), right now is the best time to go back to school and complete your education to become a Registered Nurse.
If you are presently a licensed practical nurse (LPN) who would like to obtain a higher level of nursing education to become a registered nurse (RN), an LPN to RN program may be right for you. Sometimes referred to as am LPN to RN bridge program, this program can be taken online or at a college of nursing in the real world.
This program is your ticket to obtaining a higher degree in nursing to practice as a registered nurse. Once a student nurse has graduated from a LPN to RN program, she is then qualified to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). All nursing graduates in the United States are required to pass this examination if they wish to become registered nurses.
You may wonder if you should make the move from a LPN to a RN. While the decision is up to you and needs to fit with the needs for your own life, this is an excellent time to train to become a registered nurse because the need for such professionals is great across the country.
Employment opportunities will open up when you decide to take the LPN to RN program and work up the ladder occupationally. You can look forward to a higher annual salary and more benefits. Licensed practical nurses looking to advance in their careers in the medical and health care industry will find many new challenges and responsibilities in becoming registered nurses. However, you will find that you can rise to these new challenges and welcome more and more of them! Not to mention the fact that RNs have a greater level of autonomy than LPNs. They also assume a leadership role most welcome by many health care professionals.
You need to decide whether you wish to return to school full time and attend a brick and mortar post secondary institution or else to study part time through an online program. Some LPNs may have the option of working part time while they attend nursing school full time; others may able to cease work all together while they study. Still others for financial reasons may need to continue to work full time while in school.
Who is this program for?
If you are working as a nurse’s aid in a hospital or as a lab technician in a medical facility and you would like to progress to an RN (registered nurse) position, this is the program for you. If you want to obtain more qualifications, learn more, expand your knowledge and expertise in healthcare, as well as earn a more significant income, this program is the safest bet. If you want to move beyond the basics of nursing (nutrition, lifestyle, hygiene, and so on) and delve into the depths of patient care, an LPN to RN program is perfect.
In case you want to master a certain specialization, this transition is a necessary step for your career. Similarly, you also need to complete this track if you ever want to have access to a management or leadership position. Lastly, this program will be a worthy investment to improve your job prospects in the least amount of time. The demand for RNs is high and will only increase in the following years: a growth of 19% for registered nurse openings is estimated in the job market by 2022, which is faster than average for all other careers across the board (according to OOH or the Occupational Outlook Handbook).
What can an LPN to RN track do for you?
A bridge program will increase your marketability and give you more leeway in choosing a career path. Regardless of your nursing specialization, you will find a job easier in your desired field with an RN licensure than as an LPN. You will be allowed to perform a more significant number of procedures, as well as have more autonomy at your workplace. You will be able to make decisions, plan and provide better patient care without requiring supervision or clearance from other nurses. You will have more experience and broader knowledge of advanced practice as an RN.
Some Licensed Practical Nurses fear that they will be replaced or even eliminated from the healthcare system. Although there seems to be little evidence to back up this claim, there is a small possibility that the number of LPNs will be diminished in the future. If you fear this outcome, going back to school to earn your RN might be a good idea. However, for now, it is safe to say that the job outlook for Licensed Practical Nurses is not threatened. On the contrary, a growth of 16% is estimated in the following years. Still, you might want to pursue an RN program nonetheless to boost your qualifications and heighten your skill set. Keep in mind that registered nurses have more job opportunities available to them than LPNs.
Due to the demand for RNs, schools have created programs designed specifically for LPNs who wish to continue their educations. While many traditional campus based nursing schools offer the LPN to RN program, there are many online programs that offer the same quality education but allow you to work on your own schedule. Online programs typically offer faster enrollment, as many campus-based programs have waiting lists. An online program gives you the flexibility to continue working as you earn your degree, as most courses can be completed whenever and whereever you are able to study. In many cases, you will find online classes less expensive than other programs. If you are considering becoming a Registered Nurse, here are a few things to consider:
- Job Opportunities- Registered Nurses are in demand in all health care settings. Thanks to improvements in medical technology and the increasing number of elderly Americans, growth in the medical field will continue, with Registered Nurses making up a significant portion of the demand for health care workers.
- Higher Salaries- Registered Nurses get higher salaries than LPNs. Registered Nurses are also likely to earn promotions and pay raises throughout their career while LPNs often reach a career ceiling at which point they are unlikely to make more money.
- Career Recognition- As an LPN, you already know the stress and hard work that goes along with being in the nursing profession, but you probably don’t get the pay or respect you deserve. You probably provide much of the routine care for sick patients, but often you must take orders from nurses with less experience because they hold the title of RN. As a registered nurse, your responsibilities and privileges will grow substantially. You will face new challenges and have new opportunities to shine.
- Specialties- LPNs perform roughly the same tasks throughout all health care fields. On the other hand, Registered nurses have a large number of specialties to choose from, making the field more exciting and dynamic. You have the opportunity to increase your salary, as specialty fields for RNs are some of the highest paid positions in medicine.
What does the program require?
You can start preparing to earn RN licensure as early as 6 months after your first day as a working LPN. Although every school is different, there are a few standard requirements which are generally present for all colleges and universities. These include a passing score on your entrance exam, a high school diploma (minimum GPA score) and an LPN license. Please note that enrollment for LPN to RN tracks is usually highly selective.
In order to be considered for admission, you will need to submit the following documentation: work evaluation forms, official transcripts, completion of prerequisites, proof of professional experience (some schools may ask for anywhere between one and three years), TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills, where needed), proof of graduation from an accredited school of practical nursing in the country, clinical experience report, an active and valid LPN license and official documents which state you have over 1,000 hours of documented work as a Licensed Practical Nurse within the last three years (if you graduated over three years ago).
When it comes to prerequisites, there are several general education courses which must carried out to be eligible for an LPN to RN program. The length of the track will be directly influenced by the number and completion of these prerequisites. If you attended these classes five or more years ago, they are no longer valid, and you will need to renew your enrollment. As for general education, you will need to finish coursework in the following subject areas: general chemistry, English composition, math, anatomy and physiology, biology and psychology.
What will you learn?
A quality bridge program will teach you everything you need to know about transitioning to the role of RN. You will start off from your experience as an LPN and build from there, learning all about physical exams, health assessment, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and how to manage them, cancer treatment and helping patients with a history of substance abuse. Additionally, you will focus on providing medical care to pregnant women and newborns, evaluating research and relevant data, decision-making within an ethical and legal context, as well as critical thinking skills. Furthermore, public health and wellness promotion will both be key-concepts around which your curriculum revolves.
Remember that you will have to utilize previous knowledge from your LPN training and refer to your nursing foundation to understand the core principles of working as a registered nurse. You will enhance your expertise on the structure and function of the human body, and also study medication side effects, how to use designated instruments for different assessment techniques and how to assist and meet the psycho-social needs of patients. Lastly, you will learn various skills such as IV therapy, clinical judgment, administering rehabilitative and therapeutic treatment, mobility, hygiene and wound care. Communication will be a prominent part of your training, as patient care largely depends on effective and fruitful collaboration between you and other resourceful members of your medical team. To provide the best care, you will learn how to accommodate the patient’s religious, psychological and cultural beliefs.
Here are some of the main courses you will attend during an LPN to RN program:
- Transition to Professional Nursing
- Adult Health Nursing
- Health Assessment
- Principles of Pharmacology
- Trends in Nursing
- Fundamentals of Nursing
- Women’s Health
- Medical-Surgical Nursing
- Nursing Research
- Community-Based Nursing
- Care of the Family
- Health Maintenance, Promotion & Restoration
- Leadership & Management Concepts in Nursing
How long does the program take?
An LPN to RN track typically takes between 1 and 2 years and will allow you to work as an entry-level registered nurse. Indeed, this type of training takes longer than the regular LPN coursework, but it will offer you more insight into the fundamentals of advanced practice nursing. However, most LPN to RN programs (particularly online) only require about one year of instruction. Many e-learning agencies grant students a reasonably flexible schedule, with evening or weekend classes where necessary. What is most important to note about these types of tracks is that they usually have a relatively short waiting list. Compared to the sometimes interminable or excessively lengthy waiting lists for an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree program, an LPN to RN track offers a quick, reliable solution for practicing LPNs.
Does the program require any clinical hours?
Yes, an LPN to RN track requires you to work rotations alongside other nurse colleagues within a clinical setting to garner firsthand experience with advanced practice. Some universities assign you to a designated hospital, whereas other schools allow you to choose the medical facility where you want to practice. Although there is no exact number of hours mandated, most bridge programs ask for a minimum of 600. This number can vary significantly depending on your selected institution. Typically, you need 70 credit hours with 8 to 12 clinical hours per session.
Can you study in an LPN to RN track online?
Definitely. Many working LPNs consider an online program more advantageous than a traditional one for a wide range of reasons, including timing, cost, individualized curriculum, convenience and overall flexibility. Although you will still be asked to attend an assigned hospital to undergo clinical training, most of your coursework will be completed online. In addition to local clinical rotations, you will learn dexterity and reasoning skills, as well as polish your nursing abilities within a virtual laboratory using animations, videos, and online simulations. Yur examinations will take place via an online platform and you will have a lot of space and freedom in designing your own schedule. You can even use one class at a time to further your education and career if this is all your current job or family life allows.
Here are the most renowned colleges and universities which offer online LPN to RN tracks:
- North Dakota State University
- Indiana State University
- University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville
- Allegany College of Maryland
- Hutchinson Community College
- University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Nursing
- Rue Education
- Presentation College
- Excelsior College
- Davidson County Community College
- Sampson Community College
How much does the program cost?
The tuition for a bridge program is usually between $15,000 and $20,000 in total. This number includes the cost of nursing theory exams, focused clinical assessment, information literacy, clinical performance exam and several prerequisite tests. You must take into account that you will also spend a considerable amount on supplies, lab fees, uniforms (if on-campus), textbooks, study guides and other learning material. You will most likely have to pay a registration or enrollment fee (between $100 and $1,000, depending on the school).
A critical financial issue you do not want to overlook is the pre-registration cost. These include the application fee (maximum $100), your CPR and First Aid Certification, your criminal background check and FBI records check, as well as any necessary drug screens and immunizations. All of these fees will be paid directly to the school where applicable.
Is an LPN to RN program accredited?
All bridge programs should have accreditation from an official, trusted source. An LPN to RN track is no different. Make sure your chosen coursework has approval from the State Board of Nursing and authorization from any of the following institutions: The Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing (ACEN) or The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Accreditation is crucial for admission into certain schools for future education, but also an indispensable tool for earning scholarships, grants or student loans. Without it, you are not eligible to receive financial aid. Keep in mind that you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in order to practice as a registered nurse.
Where can I work as an RN with studies from a bridge program?
Becoming an RN will undoubtedly open up new career possibilities for you. After receiving your certification, you will be able to work in hospitals, nursing care facilities, doctor’s offices, home care settings and private general hospitals. You will be eligible to continue your education and eventually move up to a leadership position or an executive role if you do not plan on working the floor in later years. Here are some of the most popular job positions you can apply for as an RN:
- Pediatric Nurse
- Scrub Nurse
- Geriatric Nurse
- Trauma Nurse
- Psychiatric Nurse
- Labor and Delivery/Postpartum RN
- Operating Room RN
- Cath Lab RN
- Inpatient Rehab RN
- School Nurse
- Public Health Nurse
How much can I earn as an RN with studies from a bridge program?
Your earning potential with a history in bridge education is the same as that of an RN who pursued a traditional program. Median yearly pay for a registered nurse is $65,470. Your salary can be anywhere between $45,000 and $100,000, depending on your academic background, current workplace, level of experience, qualifications and chosen nursing specialty.