LPN to RN Bridge Information Guide
Getting a bachelor’s degree and becoming a registered nurse (RN) can be a great career move for a licensed practical nurse (LPN). Nursing is one of the fastest growing job fields in the medical arena, and RNs are in demand all over the country. An LPN to RN bridge program can help any LPN quickly gain a bachelor’s degree and smoothly transition into a better paid career.
The median salary for RNs in May 2008 was $62,450, about 30% higher than that of LPNs, which was only $39,030. The number of available jobs for RNs is also supposed to increase by 22% by 2018, meaning the likelihood is high that there will be jobs available upon graduation for students entering nursing programs now. Additionally, RNs are more involved in treating patients than LPNs. Where RNs have some leeway to specialize in certain types of treatment and work at specialty facilities, LPNs largely provide the same type of basic bedside care to patients in any setting.
Top LPN to RN Online Degree Programs
Licensed practical nurses will eventually hit a ceiling in terms of job responsibilities and pay scale. For the LPN seeking a career advancement as a registered nurse, the right LPN to RN program can open doors to new opportunities within the nursing profession. Below we feature a school offering LPN to RN and related nursing degree programs.
What is an LPN to RN Bridge Degree?
An LPN to RN Bridge is a special degree program for licensed practical nurses (LPN) who wish to obtain their registered nurse (RN) license. LPN education takes less time and money than an RN education, so it’s a practical solution for those who can’t afford or spend four years pursuing their baccalaureate degree. Many LPNs eventually want to make the jump into working as an RN, though, and an LPN to RN bridge program is ideal for students who wish to seek leadership positions and assume more responsibilities in their nursing careers. An online LPN to RN degree program makes it possible for students to continue their current nursing jobs while pursuing higher education. You can learn more about LPN to RN and other common bridge programs below:
- Online LPN to RN Bridge Program
- Online LVN to RN Bridge Program
- Online LPN to BSN Bridge Program
- Online Paramedic to RN Bridge Program
- Online RN to BSN Bridge Program
If you are already working as an LPN, the advantage of studying online to become an RN is that you can get both education and practical experience simultaneously. If you keep your nursing job, but also go to school, you'll come out with a higher level of education, and more work-hours under your belt, both of which look great on a resume. With an RN license you can earn more money and qualify for advanced positions in the field. A study by the U.S. Bureau of Health Professions showed that by 2020 the U.S. nursing shortage will grow to more than 1.7 million. It shouldn't be hard to find a job as a nurse, but any extra education will provide a competitive advantage when you're seeking promotions or pay raises.
What are LPN to RN Bridge Degree Options?
More schools now offer an LPN to RN bridge program due to the increased need for qualified nurses. There are a few program options available for an LPN to RN bridge including:
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN): As a two to three year program that provides entry-level education requirements to practice as an RN, this is the most common initial nursing education. Graduates of an ADN program are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and receive an RN license after passing the exam. An online LPN to RN program can take as little as 18 months to complete.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): This is a four-year program that provides the basic level of education to practice as an RN. Curriculum for BSN degrees includes courses that aren’t available through an ADN program such as leadership and management, community health nursing, risk reduction, and disease management. Graduates of BSN programs qualify for advanced positions with both higher pay and career benefits. BSN graduates can also pursue specialty certification which provides the educational foundation for jobs in healthcare administration and management.
Program Admission Requirements
To enroll in an LPN to RN bridge program you must already be certified as an LPN or LVN (licensed vocational nurse). A high school diploma or GED is also required, and you must be currently employed or at least have had been employed as an LPN. Occasionally programs require an associate’s degree in nursing. Nursing program entrance exams, CPR certification, or a criminal background check is sometimes required for admissions to this program. Examples of nursing program entrance exams include:
- Pre-Admission Exam for RN students (PAX-RN): This test is developed and delivered through the National League for Nursing (NLN). The exam is broken down into three major parts: verbal, science, and math.
- Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS): This exam includes four major parts: reading, math, English, science.
- Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) exam: The HESI specialty exams were developed to assess students' knowledge and their ability to apply nursing concepts within specific content categories. These exams cover reading comprehension, vocabulary and grammar, basic math skills, biology, and anatomy and physiology.
Why Enroll in an LPN to RN Online Degree Program?
Many accredited universities offer LPN to RN online degree programs that are convenient for the working student. No classroom attendance requirements and the ability to learn at your own pace are a few of the benefits of attending an online LPN to RN bridge program.
How do you know if an online LPN to RN degree bridge program is right for you? First, research different colleges and universities that offer this degree online and find a program that suits your needs. Some clarifying questions you should get answers for are as follows:
- Is the program accredited?
- How much does the program cost?
- Do you require financial aid?
- How long will the program take you?
- How many classes will you need to complete?
- When you need to log onto the internet for those classes?
- How much flexibility is involved with the coursework?
- Is the program progressive or traditional?
- Will they accept credits from your LPN training?
- Are clinical hours required?
The best thing about an online degree is that you don’t have to make your work schedule bend to your school schedule. Instead, you can classes around work. Once the online course starts, you can access the coursework anytime you want, from anywhere you want. Most classes provide a detailed syllabus at the start of the course and with notices when assignments are due. Courses are typically also set-up so you can post questions or comments to other students and professors—you’re not left to fend for yourself. Assignments are sent by email or by course management software such as Blackboard.
What Financial Aid is Available for LPN to RN Bridge Degree Students?
There are plenty of financial aid options available for LPN to RN students. You can apply for federal student aid, grants, scholarships, and student loans. Many students use a combination of these types of financial aid in order to pay for school, as one type of aid doesn’t necessarily cover all your costs. Each university or college has a financial aid department that would be more than willing to help you apply for financial aid. They also can assist in finding grants of scholarships that you may qualify for.
- All college applicants, regardless of their field of study, should fill out a FAFSA form, the U.S. Department of Education’s financial aid program.
- GovLoans.com provides important information on the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program. This program is to assist in the recruitment and retention of professional nurses wanting to provide health care to underserved populations. The program provides nurses with substantial assistance to repay educational loans in exchange for service in eligible facilities, which are usually areas very short on nurses. There are different levels of qualification for the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program: For two years of service they will pay 60% of total qualifying loan balance. For three years of service they will pay 85% of total qualifying loan balance. If a person working two years decides to continue their contract into a third year, the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program will pay an additional 25% of the qualifying loan balance. Check out the website for more detailed information.
- Federal Pell Grants are available to undergrad students in financial need. These provide just over $5,000 per year for students who continue to be qualified during each year of college.
There are many private grants from outside organizations offered to nursing students. Some organizations with grants on offer include:
- American Association of Critical Care Nurses
- American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Inc.
- Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society
- The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has a website with numerous offerings of grants, scholarships, and loans that are granted to LPN students going back to school for their RN degree.
Advancing Beyond RN Status
Nurses have great long term career options, especially those who are willing to periodically return to school to get a more advanced degree. LPNs can become RNs, and RNs can earn a master's degree that allows them to become a nurse educator, nurse practitioner, or advanced practice nurse in a wide range of specializations, from obstetrics and gynecology to geriatrics, pediatrics, and even anesthesiology. The terminal degree for nurses is the Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS), which qualifies a nurse to work in research, healthcare administration, and nurse leadership and education, as well as providing primary care. Nurses with master's and doctoral degrees in certain fields earn new privileges, such as being able to prescribe medication, open their own practices, and even sit on state nursing boards and edit respected journals that publish nursing research.
Earning these higher degrees and the associated privilege takes a long term commitment to the field of nursing. If you are considering earning your RN license after working as an LPN, you are well on your way to a lifelong career in nursing, and it may benefit you to start planning your educational and career moves for the next five to ten years. When researching LPN to RN bridge programs, in can be useful to ask about further advancement options, to see whether the school you attend can provide any extra help in subsequent legs of your journey toward the top of the nursing field.
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