LPN Transition to a Registered Nurse - What Do I Need to Know?
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. LPN to RN programs are sometimes referred to as “bridge programs.” It is referred to as such because the course of study essentially “bridges the gap” between the two career levels. Bridge programs are designed specifically for one group of nurses; in this case, LPNs wishing to become RNs. Due to this specific cohort of students, programs are streamlined to get students through relatively quickly. Further, certain bridge programs may also allow students to test out of certain courses based on test scores and experience.
There are two types of LPN to RN programs- LPN to ADN and LPN to BSN, depending on which degree the LPN wishes to achieve- Associate degree (ADN) or bachelor’s degree (BSN). The ADN is the entry-level degree required for RNs; however, as stated earlier, the BSN is becoming the preferred entry-level degree. Both programs involved the expanded scope of practice for RNs, but the BSN program incorporates leadership and management, public health, and research principles as well as more nursing theory (as opposed to nursing tasks). BSN nurses are also in a closer position to further advance their careers to advanced-practice nursing or organizational leadership and management. LPN to BSN is also a bit longer than LPN to ADN. Time to completion is extremely variable, depending on the program, learning format, and whether the LPN has the option to “test out” of certain classes.
Most schools understand that nurses seeking a higher degree level are likely already out in the workforce. Because of this, many bridge programs are online or in a “hybrid” format. Online programs are a great choice because they offer flexibility. Students can learn at their own pace and in full or part-time status, and admissions are “rolling” throughout the year. Students don’t have to worry about commuting to campus, parking, and walking to class- they can simply log in from home.
While online learning has many benefits, it has disadvantages as well. Some students rely on the support of student peers and need to consult with faculty face-to-face. Many find that online learning is isolating.
A happy medium between the two is a “hybrid” learning format. Depending on the program, some classes are taught online, while some require campus visits. Students, in this case, get the best of both worlds. See our section on online lpn to rn programs here.
The two main accreditation bodies for nursing programs in the United States is are the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The ACEN accredits all levels of nursing degrees, while the CCNE accredits baccalaureate programs and higher. Accreditation by these bodies ensures that nursing curriculum is standardized and meets current evidence-based practice standards. Sometimes, there are local accreditation entities, but students should be aware that it may not count for licensure, especially in another state.
Remarkably, there is a great demand for LPN to RN programs. In recent years, LPNs were displaced from most inpatient settings and are working in outpatient clinics, nursing facilities, and schools. Many LPNs enjoy the challenges and excitement of inpatient nursing and wish to focus their career on acute care, therefore return to school to become an RN. Additionally, some LPNs hope to advance their clinical and leadership skills, and becoming an RN helps to achieve this. Finally, RNs earn more overall. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs earn a median salary of $70,000 annually, compared to an LPN salary of $45,030. See our breakdown of LPN to RN salary comparisons. .
Overall demand for LPN to RN bridge program is also a result of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s position that the number of BSN nurses in the workforce should increase to 80% by 2020. Research has shown that BSN nurses in the healthcare setting result in lower patient mortality rates as well as improved patient care outcomes. Because of this recommendation, employers are actively seeking out BSN nurses when hiring and offering an educational incentive for current nurses.
LPNs looking to return to school for their RN may not know where to start, or what admission criteria is needed. While admission requirements may vary slightly between programs, prospective students may need to:
Additionally, some programs may require writing samples or completion of National League of Nursing (NLN) Acceleration Challenge exams or the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) exam.
LPNs transitioning to the RN role have the benefit of prior knowledge in the field of nursing. Not only do they have the formal educational background from the LPN program, but they also have clinical experience from being out in the workforce. Courses may vary depending on the school and degree type (ADN vs. BSN), but may include:
Additionally, clinical rotations/experiences are required for graduation. It’s important to LPNs to apply nursing theory into practice while developing their new role as an RN. If attending a program through a local college, the school will assign students to area hospitals, usually in groups. For online programs, many schools have agreements with various healthcare facilities in multiple states.
The clinical areas students may rotate through include:
So where should a prospective LPN to RN student start in the search for a program? Starting with local or area community colleges is an excellent start. Most campuses offer some type of bridge program, and students can compare programs as well as tuition rates. School websites are very transparent- tuition rates, prerequisites, admission requirements, and curriculum are usually posted online.
*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.
Select the state below to see a full list of LPN/LVN to RN bridge programs.
Once prospective students identify local colleges and potential online program choices, they will need to compare the programs to fit their needs best. Some of the most common considerations may include:
Another option for prospective students is LPN to RN "credit by exam". What this means is that students can test out of certain college classes. In other words, by passing the exams, college credits are earned. This helps to fast-track students through the bridge program.
The first step in this process is evaluation- prior college courses are assessed, and students are given credit for certain ones. Then students enroll in a test-prep class for specific courses they will need to graduate. After that, students enroll in the courses. After an accelerated amount of time (around four to ten weeks) students may take the exams for college credits.
The next step involves clinical externship or exam. Depending on the college associated with the credit by exam, additional clinical experience may be required. Then the student is eligible to take the state NCLEX exam.
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 in 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 learning.
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 fewer 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.
The list below contains programs which offer online and hybrid LPN to RN programs, please follow the website links to the get more information about each program.
LPN to RN/BSN Online
Online Program - Achieve offers a fast-track program that combines the effectiveness of real classroom learning with the speed of credit-by- examination.
Allegany College of Maryland
LPN to RN
12401 Willowbrook Road, SE
Cumberland, MD 21502
Hutchinson Community College
LPN to RN
1300 North Plum
Hutchinson, KS 67501
Indiana State University
LPN to BSN
200 North Seventh Street
Terre Haute, IN 47809
LPN to ADN
7 Columbia Circle
Albany, NY 12203
North Dakota State University
LPN to BSN
1400 Centennial Blvd
Fargo, ND 58105
Sampson Community College
LPN to ADN
1801 Sunset Avenue
Clinton, NC 28383
Davidson County Community College
LPN to RN
297 DCC Road
Thomasville, NC 27360
University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville
LPN to RN
2005 White Dr
Batesville, AR 72503
University of Arkansas
LPN to BSN
1 University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Western Kentucky University
LPN to ASN
1906 College Heights Blvd.
Bowling Green, KY 42101