LPN to BSN Programs
Many prospective professionals study to become a Licensed Practical Nurse nowadays. Although working as an LPN is very rewarding and impactful, there is a growing number of nurses who do not want to stop here and want to continue their education and see the full potential of what this career path has to offer. For these pupils and others like them, universities have created special programs, known as LPN to BSN tracks, personalized and designed to meet the academic needs of a large and expanding demographic of the nursing community. But what is the best way of improving your skills along with your qualifications in this particular field?
Who is this program for?
An LPN to BSN track is a simple and practical program devised for working LPNs who want to advance to higher education, get better-paid positions and earn a formal degree. Most students who operate in this profession chose it because they can obtain qualifications in as little as 12 months and start working without much hassle. However, there are some drawbacks to this decision. One is that it is harder to climb up the ladder now, switch jobs or move into a leadership position. But there is still a great deal of leeway available for every LPN. One option is to enroll in an LPN to RN track and earn your Associate’s Degree in Nursing and pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination) to become a registered nurse.
Albeit a tempting decision, there are a few issues with this option (more on that later). This is why others decide to go straight for the gold and pursue a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing directly using the LPN to BSN track. This takes more time, money and dedication than obtaining an ADN, but it is ultimately more beneficial in the long run. With this in mind, the program is a smart decision if you want more career options, a higher income, more expertise in nursing and can afford to juggle work and academic endeavors for another four years. If any of the above does not apply to you, you might be better off joining an Associate’s Degree program, at least for the time being. You can also pursue an LPN to BSN track after earning your ADN (onsider that most nurses will be obligated to do so in the near future).
What can an LPN to BSN track do for you?
An LPN to BSN path, known as a “bridge” program, can improve the quality of patient care you provide, drastically increase your marketability, lead to high-end jobs with better pay and open up new career avenues you previously couldn’t access. The main advantage to this type of certification is the time you save: a conventional Bachelor’s degree takes between 4 to 5 years to obtain, whereas an LPN to BSN track can be carried out in as little as 18 months. You can enroll in a bridge program to earn your Associate’s Degree (around 18 months) and study more for the same amount of time to earn your Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. You will have two different high-quality certifications in half the time you would through a traditional education.
This bridge program can also help you manage your workload better as opposed to other courses. The schedule is usually accommodating and online alternatives can give you even more flexibility if you need it. You most likely do not need to take time off work or turn down healthcare responsibilities to participate in an LPN to BSN track and become successful. You don’t have to first become an RN (Registered Nurse), transfer to a college and study for another four years and then enroll in another time-consuming, intensive program to finally earn your Bachelor’s degree. You can simply join an LPN to BSN track instead and receive the same credentials and experience in under 2 years.
A good bridge program will have a decent completion time, be fully accredited, affordable and preferably local or regional. You should look for smaller classes to receive more personalized instruction and supervision. Another key aspect is to see if your chosen school is affiliated with any top-notch hospitals in your area. This will come in handy when you’re looking for a job after completing your studies. Ask, will you have the opportunity to work in the settings and kinds of environment you are really passionate about? Will you get to continue improving and advancing in your career with the help of this coursework? These are essential questions to ask yourself before making a final decision.
Should you just get an Associate’s Degree instead?
Most nurses will be required to get their Bachelor’s degree in the future in any case. According to the Institute of Medicine, 80% of nurses working in hospitals will have to earn Bachelor’s degrees by 2020. So you might as well do this sooner or later. If you do not have the necessary funds, time or commitment for a BSN bridge program, you can obtain your ADN first and figure out how you go from there down the road. However, if you’re more inclined towards a Bachelor’s level program, but you’re still on the fence about it, take a look at the following reasons why the latter is a much more advantageous idea and professional path than simply settling for an Associate’s Degree:
- You will have a secure career long-term and reliable jobs;
- You will have more independence and flexibility at your workplace;
- You will have more job opportunities available;
- You will earn a higher income;
- You will spend around the same amount of time and effort studying for it;
- You will offer safer, more resourceful patient care.
What do you need for the program?
The requirements for LPN to BSN tracks notably differ depending on the school, state, and type of program. Here are some general pointers for criteria you need to fulfil to be considered for admission: an LPN license, proof of at least one year of employment as an LPN (a minimum of 1,000 hours in either long-term care or acute care), a cumulative GPA of 2.0 on a scale of 4.0, a total of up to 70 non-nursing credit hours and passing scores on a variety of entrance tests such as the NLN Acceleration Challenge Entrance Exams.
When it comes to prerequisites, most schools will require you to complete a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework and at least 30 semester hours of prerequisites. To be eligible, you also need a grade of C or higher for all of the latter (including electives). The main classes you need to attend to be considered for admission include: microbiology, English composition, statistics, human anatomy and physiology, nutrition, developmental psychology, history, sociology, general chemistry, human growth and development and cultural anthropology.
For your application process you will need to submit official transcripts, proof of your previous work as an LPN, a personal statement in which you declare and explain the motivation behind your academic or professional goals and path, as well as two or three letters of reference from teachers, colleagues or previous employers.
What will you learn?
An LPN to BSN track will teach you the history, principles and core foundation of nursing practice, as well as the cornerstone research behind healthcare and information management systems. You will learn how to care for individuals throughout the lifespan, how to conduct ethically-bound and culturally sensible interventions in a wide range of medical settings (both inpatient and outpatient), and how to promote and maximize health, restoration or recovery and disease prevention.
Other concepts you will focus on include quality improvement, effective communication, wellness management, safe practices, physical assessment, pathophysiological conditions, family-focused nursing, leadership theory and collaboration within an interdisciplinary team. You will learn how to treat acute and chronic health conditions, manage a health crisis, deal with illness in the context of family or social structure and critically analyze medical data. Another significant component of your studies will be clinical practice, which will help you gain firsthand experience with the concepts you study and how to better implement them to maximize positive results. Lastly, you will focus on nursing administration, economics and financial aspects of healthcare, evaluation in nursing education and leadership of innovation in complex systems.
Here are the main course outlines an LPN to BSN track is centered on:
- Fundamentals of Nursing
- Nursing of Adults Across the Lifespan
- Human Experience of Disability
- Health Assessment
- Clinical Nursing
- Alterations in Physiological Functioning
- Health Care of Children
- Nursing of the Critically Ill
- Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing
- Parent and Newborn Nursing
- Professional and Evidence-Based Practice
- Nursing Research
- Health Care Policy
- Basic Nursing Informatics
- Leadership in Nursing Practice
- Financial Management in Nursing
- Essentials of Nursing Administration Leadership
- Curriculum, Assessment, and Evaluation in Nursing Education
How long does the program last?
LPN to BSN programs require a minimum of 18 months to carry out, but typically take approximately three years to finish. The exact completion time depends on the school, your previous experience, academic knowledge and qualifications, as well as on whether or not you are studying full-time or looking for online alternatives. Usually, bridge tracks for a Bachelor’s Degree require 120 credit hours.
Are there any clinical hours required for the program?
Absolutely, you need an extensive amount of clinical hours for the LPN to BSN track. Even if you are pursuing distance learning, you are still required to attend clinical rotations in a hospital, lab or medical facility affiliated with your selected school. You must meet the university’s basic clinical practicum requirements and excel in a wide range of areas, from women’s health and family nursing to critical care, rehabilitation, and mental health. Bridge programs require you to complete one clinical hour for every three didactic hours. This amounts to over 350 direct care clinical hours for a full-fledged LPN to BSN track.
Are there any online options?
Yes, you can study for your BSN online. There is a myriad of bridge program options available, which take anywhere from 18 months to three full years to complete. The courses are personalized for your academic level and needs: the staff uses interactive teaching methods and a variety of learning tools to help prepare you for examinations. The schedule and study time is mostly up to you and allows you the necessary flexibility to keep a job.
Here are the most renowned schools or universities which offer online LPN to BSN programs:
- Harding University
- North Dakota State University
- Idaho State University
- Ball State University
- California State University
- Waynesburg University
- Newman University
- The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Nursing
- Indiana State University
- Worcester State College
- University of Louisiana
- Piedmont College
- Allen College
- Nebraska Methodist College
- Pacific Lutheran University
- Bradley University
How much does the program cost?
The average tuition for BSN bridge programs starts at approximately $15,000. For residents, and prices can reach $20,000 per academic year (up to 20 semester hours or two semesters). Some universities only offer LPN programs for costs upwards of $30,000. This may be daunting at first, but there are several online alternatives or financial aid options (private loans, grants, work-study programs, student loans, PLUS loans, scholarships) if you are set on a specific, costly university. Other expenses include a non-refundable enrollment fee, room and board fees, uniform and nursing supplies, lab kits and equipment, textbooks, NCLEX-PN testing and review fees, as well as other miscellaneous expenses like parking, cafeteria, clinical and technology fees.
What about accreditation?
You should always aim for an accredited bridge program that can provide proof of its legitimacy and ensure that there will be no future problems when you are looking for a job or further education. An LPN to BSN program can be officially authorized by any of the following institutions: The Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing (ACEN), The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or The National League of Nursing Accrediting Agency (NLNAC). You also need to pass the NCLEX-PN exam in order to practice.
How much can you earn as an LPN with a Bachelor’s Degree?
A regular LPN has a median salary of $42,400. However, this figure can receive quite a boost when transitioning towards higher education through a BSN track. Consequently, graduates of a bridge program can earn up to $98,000, depending on the state and level of experience. Moreover, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs (registered nurses) receive $26,370 more when compared to an average Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).
Where can you work as an LPN with a Bachelor’s Degree?
An LPN to BSN track opens up a wide array of new job positions and career paths. After receiving your certification, you will be able to work in a variety of healthcare facilities, including ICUs, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, offices, mental health institutions and outpatient settings. Here are some of the job prospects if you decide to enroll in this program:
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
- Critical Care Nurse
- Adult Health Nurse
- Cardiovascular Intensive Care (CVICU) Nurse
- LPN Instructor
- Pain Management Nurse
- Pediatric Intensive Care (PICU) Nurse
- Nurse Coach
- Case Management Nurse
- Perianesthesia (PACU) Nurse
- School Nurse
- Military Nurse
- Nurse Educator
- Public Health Nurse