LPN to RN Programs

Interested in an Online LPN to RN program?

  • LPN to RN/BSN Online - Achieve Test Prep

    *Must Be a LPN/LVN

    LPNs earn your ADN or BSN degree online in up to 1/2 the time and cost of traditional programs. With No Waiting List to get started, Free Books, and Low Cost financing options available, this is the perfect way for LPNs, LVNs, and Paramedics to earn your Associates Degree in Nursing and your RN license. Our convenient, instructor led test-out program allows you to learn at an accelerated pace and earn college credit-by-examination which then is eligible to be transferred to an ACEN accredited nursing school or 100's of universities nationwide.

How Does an LPN Become an RN?

Whether you are already a LPN, currently in school, or just interested in nursing, it is a good idea to consider furthering your education and career by becoming a Registered Nurse. RN is the next logical step up from LPN. Some duties and responsibilities are similar or the same. However, there are also many differences between a LPN and a RN. Skills and knowledge increase as well as do accountability and responsibility. Legal scope of practice varies by location and all nurses should be familiar with their states nurse practice act. This outlines scope of practice for each educational level. When you enroll in a LPN to RN bridge program, the stage is set for furthering nursing knowledge, understanding of the human body, and climbing the career ladder. RNs are trained to be high level critical thinkers and problem solvers, they are usually in supervisory positions. RNs interact with patients, physicians, other nurses, and many more. Patient assessment, care-planning, and similar are usually completed by the RN as well.

What Do I Need to Know about LPN to RN Education?

Beginning LPN school is sometimes the first experience a student has with any type of patient care. Of course, some students have been or are working as nurses aids, laboratory technicians, or other healthcare roles, but for many, they haven’t had to come into close contact with a sick or dying person other than, perhaps, a family member. The experience can send some students running for the hills and others embracing the challenges ahead. If you are reading this section, chances are you have made it through the obstacles and steep learning curves of LPN school and are now thinking about advancing your career to the next step.

In LPN school, students are taught patient care with the assumption that they have no prior experience and knowing that their scope requires a RN to supervise and to whom to report findings. LPN education includes the basics of caring for patients, such as activities of daily living, nutrition, and hygiene, as well as more advanced patient care, such as administering medications safely, wound care, and knowing how to perform a basic nursing assessment with some nursing interventions and the knowledge to know when to notify the RN or physician of abnormal findings. RN to LPN programs are structured with the knowledge that LPNs are already trained in these areas and are seeking more advanced knowledge and greater autonomy.

While each school may vary, they should all be focused on teaching more complex nursing assessments, wound care, and care planning, as well as advanced pharmacology, advanced physiology, advanced pathology, and others. Clinicals, when available, are often in acute or critical care, and are centered on nurse autonomy and having opportunities to attempt procedures for which RNs are responsible, such as IV insertions, assistance with central line placement, and central line care. Some schools even provide Advanced Cardiopulmonary Life Support (ACLS) class for certification prior to graduation.

Many students find this type of education exciting, challenging, and rewarding, and are grateful to have the solid backbone of LPN education and work experience before adding on the RN education.

Job Outlook for LPN's Becoming RN's

The job outlook for RNs is strong. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) number of jobs available will increase by over 500,000 from 2012-2022. This is an increase of 19% which is faster than average for all jobs. The need for high quality nurses will increase due to high number of baby boomers and will be compounded by the current nursing shortage and the possible future shortage of Masters prepared nurses. Median yearly pay for RNs is $65,470. RN salary varies and can range from $40,000 to over $100,000 depending on place of employment, education level, and prior experience. Read more about finding a job after RN graduation.

LPN to RN Bridge programs are popular choices because they build on knowledge already obtained as a LPN. In addition, LPN to RN Bridge programs build on the experience obtained by working as a LPN. There is no substitute for experience. Stepping up the nursing ladder one step at a time is a great way to collect experience. Most LPN to RN Bridge programs offer credit for LPN education or working experience. This may simply be awarded or the program will allow LPNs to "test out" of certain classes. This means if test scores are high enough on a certain subject exam, credit is received without taking the class. This varies from one LPN to RN bridge program to the next. Be sure to research this and find out the educational requirements. These programs also usually accept transfer credits from other colleges if applicable.

LPN to RN Salary Comparison

StateLPN Annual SalaryRN Annual SalaryPercent Increase
Alabama35,57056,47058.8%
Alaska54,38085,74057.7%
Arizona50,76071,30040.5%
Arkansas36,04056,48056.7%
California51,70098,40090.3%
Colorado46,78069,60048.8%
Connecticut55,17076,37038.4%
Delaware47,70070,16047.1%
District of Columbia52,68080,04051.9%
Florida41,54062,72051.0%
Georgia38,01062,35064.0%
Hawaii46,52088,23089.7%
Idaho39,43060,32053.0%
Illinois44,87068,03051.6%
Indiana40,58058,90045.1%
Iowa38,75054,02039.4%
Kansas39,46056,80043.9%
Kentucky38,09057,98052.2%
Louisiana37,81060,23059.3%
Maine41,75063,32051.7%
Maryland50,44072,21043.2%
Massachusetts53,82085,77059.4%
Michigan44,31067,18051.6%
Minnesota42,00071,45070.1%
Mississippi36,40056,56055.4%
Missouri37,66058,04054.1%
Montana38,76061,81059.5%
Nebraska38,76057,55048.5%
Nevada52,76080,24052.1%
New Hampshire47,59065,79038.2%
New Jersey52,95078,33047.9%
New Mexico46,36065,79041.9%
New York45,66077,11068.9%
North Carolina41,73060,03043.9%
North Dakota39,79058,12046.1%
Ohio40,79062,49053.2%
Oklahoma38,32057,83050.9%
Oregon48,55082,94070.8%
Pennsylvania43,55066,57052.9%
Rhode Island52,11075,51044.9%
South Carolina39,07059,67052.7%
South Dakota35,21053,97053.3%
Tennessee36,42057,03056.6%
Texas44,88068,59052.8%
Utah43,08061,10041.8%
Vermont44,42064,32044.8%
Virginia40,50063,88057.7%
Washington49,22078,54059.6%
West Virginia35,02056,39061.0%
Wisconsin42,82065,59053.2%
Wyoming43,30060,79040.4%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, data extracted on February 18, 2016

LPN to RN Education Options

The term "LPN to RN bridge program" is actually more of an umbrella term which encompasses several educational options. There are three options for LPN to RN bridge programs. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. No matter the bridge program selected, there are certain similarities.

  • High school diploma or GED required
  • Must have graduated from an accredited program and hold a current and unrestricted LPN license
  • A required minimum number of instruction and clinical hours (this is determined by each states Board of Nursing)
  • All options are intended to prepare the student to take and pass the NCLEX-RN and obtain a RN license

lpn to rn

LPN to RN Diploma Programs

RN diploma programs are somewhat obsolete in today's healthcare industry but some do still exist. RN diploma programs are basically the RN equivalent of LPN diploma programs. In other words, upon completion of the program the student is prepared to take the NCLEX examination and obtain licensure. However, diploma programs offer just that, a diploma. College credit is not earned with the diploma option. This is the main drawback to diploma programs. The other main issue with LPN to RN diploma programs is the fact that they are being phased out. RN diploma programs used to be very popular and were an equally valid alternative to ADN or BSN programs. Ask any older and experienced nurse; many RN diploma nurses continue to work today.

However, diploma programs are on the way out. Usually offered by hospitals, RN diploma programs offer a sort of fast track to RN status. Length of diploma programs is usually 36 months and can be full or part time. These programs often focus heavily on hands-on learning. While there are some great diploma programs, most simply cannot compete with degree programs. In today's fast-paced and always changing healthcare industry, employers are searching for highly trained nurses. Diploma RNs are often limited to medical-surgical units, doctor offices, or other general areas of employment. If you want to specialize in one field such as oncology, pediatrics, critical care, etc, check out our section above on LPN to BSN programs.

LPN to RN Classes & Courses

One of the benefits of transitioning from an LPN role to an RN role is that LPNs have valuable job experience that informs and accelerates their extended learning.  In short, becoming an RN is more complex but becomes easier due to prior knowledge and experience.  While courses and topics vary greatly between institutions, students changing from LPN to RN will encounter the following concepts:

  • Understand the various bodily systems (integumentary, reproductive, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, digestive, urinary, cardiovascular, lymphatic and respiratory).
  • Understand the body's defense mechanisms
  • Understand the importance of exercise.
  • Develop an overview of the cellular and molecular mechanisms in a cell.
  • Understand evolution, diversity and ecology and the roles that each have on the human physiology.
  • Understand patterns of evolutionary change in alleles.
  • Discuss the diversity of living organisms as it relates to evolutionary processes.
  • Analyze natural selection as applied to plants, invertebrates and vertebrates in order to more fully understand human traits.
  • Explore evolution including mechanisms of speciation, extinction, adaptive radiation, and phylogenetic
  • Study the structure, physiology, development, and classification of animals - beginning with protozoa and ending with vertebrate mammals
  • Assess relationships of organisms, particularly microorganisms, with their environment on both the micro and macro levels
  • Promote the evidence-based practices associated with person- and family-centred care
  • Partner and develop empowering relationships with persons accessing care and their families
  • Understand nurses as an integral part of an inter-professional team
  • Examine the nursing profession as an integral part of the quality feedback cycle as it relates to care
  • Analyze the healthcare system, hospital, insurance and policy stakeholders in place
  • Evaluate workflow for nurses in various kinds of medical environments
  • Assess leading ethical and decision making models to guide students toward patient care that upholds medical standards.
  • Participate in a range of clinical settings with mentors and partners, first as an observer, and then with greater opportunities for autonomy as experience and skillsets develop
  • Analyze and evaluate the many aspects of clinical experience
  • LPN to RN/BSN Online - Achieve Test Prep

    *Must Be a LPN/LVN

    LPNs earn your ADN or BSN degree online in up to 1/2 the time and cost of traditional programs. With No Waiting List to get started, Free Books, and Low Cost financing options available, this is the perfect way for LPNs, LVNs, and Paramedics to earn your Associates Degree in Nursing and your RN license. Our convenient, instructor led test-out program allows you to learn at an accelerated pace and earn college credit-by-examination which then is eligible to be transferred to an ACEN accredited nursing school or 100's of universities nationwide.

Is There a Waiting List, How Long Is the Program, and How Much Does It Cost?

A lot of prospective students find that because Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree nursing programs often have long waiting lists, they can earn more money and save time by obtaining the LPN diploma first and working as an LPN while attending a LPN to RN program. While this option may be more costly, consider how much money is being earning while waiting on a list for years. Most schools offer financial aid to those who qualify and the government has loan forgiveness programs available for RNs who work in certain areas after graduation.

LPN to RN programs vary in length and cost, but because the LPN already has 1 year of nursing school completed, the length and cost shouldn’t be more than about 1 year for an Associate’s degree. Some schools even offer online courses and many schools have day and evening classes.

The cost can vary depending on public or private colleges. A private college will usually be more expensive but have a shorter waiting list, if any, than a public college. Schools are responding to the high demand for RN education by implementing more programs to meet the needs of prospective students.

Should LPN's Become RN's

As an LPN, the one question that you will probably be asked the most is, “Are you going to go back for your RN?”. Many LPN’s are satisfied with their career and have no intentions on ever going back to school. Nursing school is hard, there’s no doubt about it. That can make your decision a lot harder if you have been considering going back to school as an LPN to complete your RN degree.

There are a lot of factors that can play in to your decision as to whether or not to go back for your RN. Some of these include:  finances, lack of LPN positions in your area, lack of time outside of working, or just not having any desire or motivation to continue your education. No matter what your reason is, it is ultimately your decision.

For some LPN’s, going back for their RN is a no-brainer. Many LPN’s begin practical nursing school with the ultimate goal of achieving their RN license. If you are an LPN that would like to go back for your RN, there are numerous options for you to choose from. Visit our page that describes different advancing LPN education options.

As a licensed practical nurse, you may be afraid of being “phased out”, which means that there will no longer be any positions for LPN’s. If this is something that you fear as an LPN, then you may want to consider going back to school to become an RN. There’s no way to tell the future, but the LPN employment outlook appears to be very promising and I am not too afraid of being phased out of anywhere.

However, there are multiple advantages for LPN’s that decide to further their education. Read more about an LPN vs RN. Here are some key factors that may affect your decision for completing your RN degree:

LPN to RN School Time Length

The length of time it takes to complete your LPN program isn’t the only difference in schooling, as compared to someone pursuing an RN program. Here is a great resource that explains the differences between LPN and RN school and work.

Do you have the time and money to put towards advancing your career? These are probably the two biggest questions you need to ask yourself. If you plan on working while going back to school, you will also need to decide if you will be able to keep up with the amount of hours that you currently work.

Wages After LPN to RN Completion

RN’s typically make more money than LPN’s. Contrary to what you may hear, RN’s don’t automatically earn more than LPN’s. A new grad RN can earn less than an LPN that has experience. However, the highest-paying nursing jobs are for RN’s. See the salary comparison above.

Potential Employment for RN's

There are more jobs available for RN’s than there are for LPN’s. If you have been interested in specialty nursing, such as psychiatric care, you will have a much easier time finding employment as an RN, in comparison to an LPN. According to BLS.gov the job outlook for for registered nurses is plentiful with an overall 19% growth expectancy between 2012-2020. It states those with a BSN have even greater potential employment outlook.

RN’s are trained and educated longer. They can also perform a few nursing skills that LPN’s are not allowed to per laws. Management positions are usually held by RN’s. Every facility is different, however. Experience can also play a critical role in achieving management status.

LVN to RN

LVN, or Licensed Vocational Nurse, is basically the same thing as a LPN. The main difference is just the name itself. LVN's exist in two states: Texas and California. The training and educational requirements are similar or the same to LPN. Of course there are differences depending on the state. LVN to RN programs will then be found in Texas and California. LVN to ADN Bridge and LVN to BSN programs exist.

Online LPN to RN

  • LPN to RN/BSN Online - Achieve Test Prep

    *Must Be a LPN/LVN

    LPNs earn your ADN or BSN degree online in up to 1/2 the time and cost of traditional programs. With No Waiting List to get started, Free Books, and Low Cost financing options available, this is the perfect way for LPNs, LVNs, and Paramedics to earn your Associates Degree in Nursing and your RN license. Our convenient, instructor led test-out program allows you to learn at an accelerated pace and earn college credit-by-examination which then is eligible to be transferred to an ACEN accredited nursing school or 100's of universities nationwide.

Another option for an LPN to improve their education and obtain a RN license is an online bridge program. Online LPN to RN Bridge programs have gained popularity in recent years. They are becoming more popular each year. Online bridge programs offer an alternative to the traditional schooling methods and traditional bridge programs. Associate or Bachelor degree level programs are available online. There are several pros and cons to online verses traditional LPN to RN Bridge programs.

Online LPN to RN Program Advantages

The first and probably most important advantage to online programs is that they are flexible. This is because online bridge programs are geared toward nontraditional students. Online LPN to RN Bridge programs often have rolling admissions and year-round class schedules. The application process for many online programs is more relaxed than traditional programs. Online schools also tend to be cheaper than their counterparts. One other hallmark of flexibility is the ability to enroll part or full time. Some nurses have used online programs one class at a time to further their education. While not ideal, it is an option for those who are very busy. Another positive is that online programs are convenient. Attending a university or college online takes the focus off driving time, cost of fuel, and parking permits. It puts the focus on to learning.

Online LPN to RN Program Disadvantages

There are several cons to online bridge programs as well. The first is that some students feel isolated. Because online bridge programs do not have a physical meeting place, there is a reduction in human interaction and human contact while engaged in the learning process. Another issue which may occur at the same time as and be compounded by the previous issue, is the certain “sink or swim” culture in some programs. When attending an online LPN to RN Bridge program, there are less chances to ask for help when learning. There is not as much peer interaction and it can be easy to fall behind. This may lead to failing a class and having to retake it. It is prudent of the online bridge program student to stay organized and ahead of schedule. Always ask for help sooner than later.

Some online LPN to RN Bridge programs require a contract. This can be an inconvenience and possibly more. These contracts may require the student to pay for classes not taken if they transfer or withdraw. Failed classes and leaves of absence may cause fines or break a contract. Always make sure you understand a contract is deciding to enter into it.

In the end, the choice is for each individual to make. Some students prefer online LPN to RN Bridge programs and excel in them. Other nurses need traditional brick and mortar programs to be happy with their education and stay on track.

LPN to RN Transition

Why Should I Take the Time, Money, and Resources to Pursue Becoming a RN When I'm a Working LPN Already?

RNWe've covered what it’s like working as an LPN already however, many LPN to RN students pursue advancing their education for more job opportunities, more money, and to take better care of patients. More job opportunities. With hospitals across the country moving away from hiring LPNs due to their limited Scope of Practice compared to a RN, many LPNS are finding themselves becoming more and more limited to the types of facilities in which they are able to work. The most commonly obtained jobs for LPNs are in long term care facilities (LTACs), skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), hospice, and home health. Working in this capacity can be very rewarding and the joy a LPN can bring to the life of a patient is often the reward for all the tedious hard work involved. However, over time, many LPNs grow weary of the monotony, lack of help, and commonly desolate nature of this patient population.

A day in the life of a SNF or LTAC LPN usually consists of being assigned 20­30 terminal patients (mostly do not resuscitate/DNR status) and passing medications from an overloaded medication cart, literally throughout the day. The morning medication pass being the most medications, followed by a noon pass, then an evening pass, and finally a bedtime pass, not to mention finding time for wound care and treatments, blood sugars, patient assessments (quickly!), and charting, all while being sure the nurses aid is staying on top of obtaining vital signs, helping him or her deliver patients to each meal, help patients to the bathroom, take phone calls, call physicians, as needed, and being sure everyone is safe. Phew! The LPN has a huge responsibility and often, not a lot of help to be sure everything is done correctly and safely.

Upon graduating a LPN to RN program, RNs in these facilities often hold a supervisory role. The day usually consists of monitoring the LPN and nurses aids, ensuring the patients are well cared for, hanging IV medications, changing central line dressings or maintaining ports, and ensuring staffing is adequate. Some facilities have RNs maintaining care plans and auditing charts. Like a LPN, RNs are employed in facilities such as the LTAC, SNF, hospice, and home health, however, RNs can also choose to work for many other types of facilities with different types of patient populations. Generally, obtaining the RN removes the limitations LPNs experience with job opportunities.

Hospitals are the most commonly sought after facilities for RNs. Most have new graduate (new grad) RN training programs available for those who wish to work in the intensive care unit, emergency room, labor and delivery, medical ­surgical, orthopedic, operating room, postpartum, rehabilitation, substance abuse, oncology, bariatric, and for literally just about any department, as RNs are widely utilized throughout hospitals. Other capacities include being self­ employed as a legal nurse consultant or administering Botox injections (after certification), working for outpatient surgical centers, doctors offices, organ procurement organizations, as a clinical instructor or travel nurse, and many more. Opportunities are abundant for the RN­ educated nurse.

More money. Because RNs can be employed by so many facilities, competitive pay scales with full benefits are usually provided. For example, this author worked as a LPN for both a SNF and sub­acute rehabilitation center while attending a LPN to RN program, and was earning $22.00/hour. Upon graduating in 2006, she worked at the same facility in the RN Supervisor role for $28/hour and that year accepted a new ­grad RN position in an intensive care unit at a busy trauma hospital and was started at $31/hour with a $2000 sign­ on bonus and 3­6% annual raises, as well as full ICU RN training. This, of course, was in 2006, so wages are probably higher in 2014, plus wages vary by state and other factors. See the comparison of LPN to RN salaries.

There is hardly an argument that a more educated nurse with a broader scope of practice and more job responsibility shouldn't earn more money than a less educated nurse with a smaller scope of practice and less legal liability. When an LPN is employed, the facility must have an RN available to supervise, making the LPN position a less cost effective position for the business. Also, the RN has more opportunity for advancement within a specialty through earning certifications and gaining experience. This drives wages even higher.

RN Patient CareTake better care of patients. LPNs are often the most caring, compassionate, hardworking and brilliant nurses in the field and any individual that pursues a career in healthcare is seeking to care for and bring healing to patients in the best way they know how. But, the fact is, a RN has received more education than a LPN because the educational programs and scope of practice are designed that way. The RN is trained to be more autonomous.

The core of LPN education and the LPN scope of practice is centered around being supervised by a RN. The LPN is well­trained at detecting abnormal assessment findings, performing some nursing interventions, and reporting to the supervising RN so he or she can determine the appropriate course of action. The core of RN education and scope include determining abnormalities, implementing appropriate nursing interventions, utilizing advanced critical thinking and skills to make an independent nursing decision and notifying the physician, as appropriate. The RN is allowed, by their scope, to perform in this capacity because he or she has been more extensively educated on disease processes, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, pathology, critical thinking, and other topics, versus the LPN, as well as having more clinical hours.

Is It Really Important That I Become a RN Even Though I'm a LPN?

Changing roles from LPN to RN is a very personal decision. As discussed throughout this site, job opportunities and flexibility broaden with RN education, as well as knowledge, which increases the quality of care provided.

An LPN may not have any desire to advance his or her career, for various reasons. Some enjoy the current LPN position and do not wish to change roles, others are fearful of change, and still others are worried about his or her ability to complete RN school successfully.

Those who do pursue LPN to RN education usually do so because he or she believes in helping patients more effectively by learning more about nursing and healthcare and wish to change roles or at least have the option of changing roles in the future. Many want to earn more money for themselves and their families or have a specialty in mind which seems exciting. But, for all prospective LPN to RN students, know that schools offering LPN to RN education are growing and changing everyday and with some research, the right school for the right price is available.

  • LPN to RN/BSN Online - Achieve Test Prep

    *Must Be a LPN/LVN

    LPNs earn your ADN or BSN degree online in up to 1/2 the time and cost of traditional programs. With No Waiting List to get started, Free Books, and Low Cost financing options available, this is the perfect way for LPNs, LVNs, and Paramedics to earn your Associates Degree in Nursing and your RN license. Our convenient, instructor led test-out program allows you to learn at an accelerated pace and earn college credit-by-examination which then is eligible to be transferred to an ACEN accredited nursing school or 100's of universities nationwide.

RN JobI'm Going to Pursue LPN to RN Education, but How Do I Find a Job Once I Graduate as a RN?

The best ways to nail down that dream job after completing LPN to RN education is by networking during clinicals, working as a nurse intern or as an LPN within the healthcare system you wish to work, and by resume and reference building.

Networking during clinicals. Every nursing student knows what is expected to pass clinicals and dazzle the instructor, but this is the perfect opportunity for a student to demonstrate his or her thirst for learning and dedication to patient care to the staff nurses and management. In the last semester of nursing school, most programs put a RN student one­on­one with a staff nurse, usually in a specialty area. During this time, ask to perform procedures you are qualified to perform, ask lots and lots of questions (remember most staff nurses have no idea what a nursing student is expected to know), demonstrate that you are a safe nurse (the most important kind!) by putting the patient’s bed in the lowest position, making sure 2­3 side rails are up, the call light is in reach, the bedside table is in reach, and know your medications before being asked to administer them.

To impress staff nurses even more, try to go the extra mile to help out other nurses, demonstrate good time management, and remember to consider patient hygiene and nutrition. Converse to clinical instructors, most staff nurses care very little about your knowledge of care plans! You might be surprised how easy it can be to make a good impression on a staff nurse and when you do, be sure to get his or her name and email address to use as a referral and ask that they put in a good word with the unit manager.

The next step is for the student RN to introduce his or herself to the unit manager and explain how passionate he or she is about nursing, how great the staff nurses are, and how he or she would love to be part of such an amazing team. They are usually very receptive to praise and would enjoy your positive feedback. Ask for the manager’s email address and if he or she knows of any new graduate RN positions which may be coming available. If there aren’t any, be very polite and leave things on a positive note, with a request to email or call him or her in the future to follow ­up. This brief conversation can work wonders to promote the student RNs good name in the small world of healthcare providers.

Many hospitals post positions on the company website for Student Nurse Externs for those interested in working in a specific area prior to obtaining their RN licensure. The position usually requires the extern to work as a nurses aide with the perks of being taught RN thought processes by staff nurses and experience interesting things, such as a code blue, intubation, procedures, extremely sick patients, birth, death, etc., depending on the unit. If you are trying to work in an area where LPNs are not employed, this may be an ideal path to determine interest in a nursing specialty.

This author has seen Student Nurse Externs work in the intensive care unit, labor and delivery, emergency department, operating room, and on the floors. If the extern performs well, most are offered positions after passing the NCLEX-­RN. This works for the hospital because the team can determine if the extern would be a good fit for the unit and it works for the student nurse extern because they can determine the same and have the freedom to quit without it looking poorly on a resume. The LPN is often more qualified than many of the applicants the hospital is receiving due to his or her healthcare experience. If the LPN wishes to work for the same company after RN graduation, it’s never too early to start talking to a potential future manager and discuss possible positions. When his or her name comes up from human resources after the application is completed, the manager will have a face to associate with the name and already know a bit about the new RNs background. Any way of standing out among other applicants is beneficial.

How Do I Build a Great RN Resume and a Solid List of References?

There are many resources for resume building available online and in­person at various places, such as nursing schools, career fairs, or even classes around town.

RN InterviewBasic rules of thumb are to keep the resume to one page and make the most important areas stand­out, usually by bolding, increasing font size or by crafty word placement. This author uses a separate section to list technology, i.e. computer programs, devices, procedural equipment, IV pumps, medication administration equipment (PIXUS), etc., so that the nurse manager can quickly recognize familiarity with any technology the unit is using, decreasing the learning curve. The ultimate goal is to have a resume be interpreted as desirable within 30 seconds of review. If the manager has a stack of resumes to review, the applicant should have his or hers stand out with just a cursory glance.

Building a solid list of references can be a daunting task for any professional new to the field. During the LPN to RN program, ask clinical instructors, staff nurses,, fellow students, professors and any current or recent colleagues or supervisors to act as a reference. Most of these individuals expect to be asked and are usually flattered. Often times official reference letters are not required for RN positions, just the name, professional address, telephone, and email addresses of 3 individuals, as well as how long you have been acquainted.

I Have an RN Interview! How Can I Be Sure to Leave a Good Impression?

The main goals in an interview as a new grad RN are to present his or herself with the impression of being eager to learn, dependable, having a positive attitude, and being able to work well with others. The interviewer is well aware that the new grad RNs lack of experience and therefore doesn’t expect the same answers as he or she may from an experienced RN.

Eagerness, dependability, and positivity can be portrayed as sitting forward in your seat, making lots of eye contact, smiling often, dressing appropriately, and being a few minutes early for the interview. Be sure to phrase each answer with an aire of understanding one’s own limitations as a new grad RN, but with the readiness to learn and grow in the new role. As a former LPN, using situations from that role, as well as from LPN to RN school, are acceptable, but keep in mind the interviewer is not hiring an LPN, they want to know that the new grad RN is ready to shift into the RN position.

Common RN Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a situation where you made a mistake and how you fixed it
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 2 years?
  • Tell me about a way in which you made a patient’s day
  • Why did you choose to become an RN after being an LPN?
  • How would you deal with a patient or family who is rude and hard to deal with?
  • Tell me about a time you felt intense pressure to perform well and how did you handle it?

I Got the Job as an RN! How Do I Make a Smooth Transition onto My New Unit?

After years of working with new grad RNs, this author can honestly say that the best ways to make a good impression on a new unit are to ask lots and lots of questions, be helpful, follow the rules, and remember the golden rule of being a great nurse.

Ask a lot of questions. The staff nurses on the new unit do not expect a new grad RN to know much about the new unit or specialty. The new grad RN should be confident in the processes standard to all RNs regardless of specialty, such as the medication pass and administration processes, basic patient safety, hygiene, nutrition, diabetes management, normal vital signs, transferring from bed to chair, etc. But each specialty is different and staff nurses and preceptors expect to be teaching it to the new RN, in fact, many truly enjoy teaching new RNs. The worst thing a new RN can do is pretend to, or to actually believe, he or she knows more than they do and end up making a terrible mistake, or coming very close.This type of attitude makes experienced RNs very nervous! The staff RN would prefer the new grad RN ask a lot of “stupid” questions than act like he or she is ahead of the game. Remember that a healthy fear of harming a patient is good for every nurse and it will keep patients safe because the nurse will stop to question each process before proceeding.

RN NursesBe helpful. As an ICU nurse, I like to think that I don’t get the luxury of having downtime unless my colleagues also have that luxury. All nurses should offer to help each other, regardless of experience, but when trying to make a good impression on a new unit, being helpful to a busy nurse is a great way to start. Tasks such as picking up a patient’s dirty food tray, checking a blood sugar, answering the phone, offering to help with baths, placing an IV or Foley catheter, changing IV tubing or a central line dressing, or doing anything to help out a busy unit. Staff nurses notice those who are helpful and are much more likely to help out in return.

Follow the rules. We can all agree that some rules are, well, stupid. But, as a newly employed RN, the corporation wants those rules followed for one reason or another, so it’s important to show subordinance and follow the rules. Other nurses, as well as management, will notice if the new grad RN is a rule follower or not. For example, if the unit has self ­scheduling and each nurse is expected to work 2 weekends a month, don’t try to skimp on signing up for required weekends thinking it will go unnoticed. This may work, but it’s guaranteed that the scheduler is taking mental notes and the next time the new grad RN requests a day off, he or she may be surprised to find themselves working on that day! Be fair to others and show integrity by following the rules, this will make a lasting positive impression of character.

Golden rule for being a great nurse. In this authors humble opinion, new grad RNs need to remember, now and forever, one golden rule for being a great nurse. When asked a specific question by another nurse or physician about a patient, there are only 2 correct answers, “ I don’t know” and the correct answer.

Do not get into the nasty habit of “tap­dancing around” trying to give a good­sounding answer afraid of being perceived as stupid or inept. Giving incorrect information will harm patients! If the answer is something the new grad RN should know, and doesn’t, he or she must learn quickly to be better about reading charts and understanding the “whole picture.” It is the bedside nurses priority to know his or her patient better than anyone else on the unit. This means knowing the ins­and­outs of the entire chart, patient history, hospital course, disease processes and medications, discharge planning, skin, heart rhythm, IV placement and patency, etc, as well as critically thinking about any potential adverse outcomes which may occur.

If something bad does happen, such as a code blue, you will be expected to answer quickly (usually while you’re standing at the bedside performing CPR and unable to look at your report sheet) what exactly is going on with said patient, what happened just before the event and why, and any of the items listed above.The team responding to the code will want answers, quickly, to determine the best ways to save the patient.

Brooke Wallace

Starting in healthcare as a pharmacy technician, I completed LPN school then immediately completed a LPN to RN program in Denver, CO. Upon graduation, I moved to San Diego, CA after being accepted into the ICU RN New Grad program. I later completed my BSN. In my 8 year career, I have worked mostly as a neuro trauma ICU RN, completed CCRN, TNCC, and CPTC certifications, worked as an adjunct clinical instructor for nursing students, and an organ procurement coordinator for 3 years. In 2013, I published CPTC Exam Review and Handbook for the Organ Procurement Coordinator, a technical guide to working as an Organ Procurement Coordinator and passing the CPTC Exam. For more information, please visit CPTCexam.com or Amazon.com. I am currently working as a traveling ICU nurse and working my way across America.

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