LPNBSN.net is the Licensed Practical Nursing's definitive guide to earning an LPN to RN or LPN to BSN degree. Our nursing experts help with everything you need to know from best ranked RN programs, to financial aid options, accelerated and online degree options, and how to improve your nursing school application.
With the resources provided by LPNBSN.net, LPNs can learn how to increase their current LPN opportunities for career growth and advancement,

find a better paying LPN job, or use our Guide so you can confidently find, apply, and survive your RN or BSN Program. Then, go on to pass the NCLEX test to become an RN or BSN.

LPNs Current Status

There is a long, complex history of changes to the LPN role. Yet, there are a few things that have stayed the same over the ages. LPNs have always been patient advocates. This boils down to being a buffer between the healthcare system and the human needs of patients. LPNs are there to catch what falls through the cracks. What’s changing are the practical aspects. What should an LPN be allowed to do? Can they be used in place of a nurse? In what settings? Where should they be allowed to work? These questions are asked over and over again in the healthcare world.

Today, it’s usually up to the policy of the place you work. What a nursing home allows an LPN to do is different than at a hospital, or correctional facility. This is due to different patient populations. An LPN’s role can vary from company to company as well. One nursing home may allow an LPN to give medications, while another forbids it. This is what poses the biggest challenge in defining an LPN. The role is versatile and fluid.

History of Practical Nursing

Old School Cool: LPNs Then

The idea of a practical nurse came about as early as 1941. During the second world war, there was a desperate need for more nurses. This spurred the start of The National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service, Inc. In 1944, NAPNES held a conference in Washington D.C., and practical nursing students were recognized officially after being voted in at this conference. The first accreditation service was formed by NAPNES shortly after, in 1945. In 1949 The National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses was founded. In 1957 the NFLPN worked on and approved a statement that detailed the functions of an LPN. Accreditation was discontinued by NAPNES in 1986. You can read the details on the origins of LPN accreditation at the NAPNES website. You can also read more on the history of LPNs and RNs at the Nursing World’s website. They provide a very detailed timeline here.

An LPN's role on the spectrum of nursing has had many changes throughout history. LPNs almost completely served as military care nurses during World War II. After the LPN New School Coolwar many LPNs sought jobs in hospitals through ANA’s Professional Counseling and Placement Service. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees has reported that between 1984 and 2005 the role of LPNs in hospitals fell 47 percent. Today that means LPNs have been removed from acute care settings and moved into nursing homes and at home care programs.

New School Cool: LPNs Today

The AFSCME report called for greater use of LPNs in hospitals. So far, hospitals do not seem to be following that advice. In 2012, a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 20% of LPNs worked in a hospital environment. In 2014, a BLS report showed that only 1.94% of LPNs work in a hospital. However, it should be noted that every estimate dropped for LPNs in 2014. LPNs employed in nursing care facilities went from 29% to 12.84%. Total LPNs working went from 738,400 to 695,610. One could gather from these numbers that the LPN role has splintered into specialized environments. If you were to work as an LPN today, you’d likely work in a nursing home, or at a home health care service. These were the top two employers as of 2014 according to the BLS report. You can read the report from 2012 here and 2014 here.

Where are LPNs on the Nursing Career Ladder

A system that explains where different positions connect and where they differ. There are some tasks that all nurses can do. Other tasks are only performed by nurses with an advanced education. Each of these tasks still fall on the spectrum of nursing.

For the sake of simplicity, there are some things we’ve left out of the spectrum. This includes advanced nursing positions, such as Certified Nurse Midwife and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. These nurses perform specific tasks, so their place on the spectrum is limited. For a full list of nursing specializations you can read about them here. We’ve also left out a majority of the technical things that nurses do. Those tasks are hard to comprehend if you aren't already in the nursing field.

Where are LPNs on the Nursing Career Ladder

The chart has two main sections: what you can do, and where you can work. These are self explanatory. There is also an indicator for when and what a nurse does or where the work is considered rare in the industry. For example, you can see that it’s rare for a nurse practitioner to work in a home environment. You can also see that as your level of education goes up, there are more things that you can do and places you can work. This is true for any profession, but it is especially true in nursing. An exception to this rule is a specialized position. In a specialized position, you will do less generalized tasks. A certified registered nurse anesthetist, or CRNA only works to administer anesthetic to patients. A certified nurse midwife only helps their patient deliver babies. There are many resources for information on what different nurses do throughout the internet. You can read more on advanced practice registered nurses at American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s publication.

There are many helpful studies that have been published. There was a recent study on how different types of nursing knowledge are applied in the care of hospitalized patients. The study showed five discrete types of knowledge that nurses use in practice, each of which corresponds with three moments of nursing knowledge history. You can read more about this on PubMed’s website.

History of Registered Nurses

Nursing began as a “lowly” career. Nurses in the 18th century were often poor and low class, working long hours. During the civil war, there was an increased need for History of Registered Nursesnurses. The career boomed, and 20,000 new nurses began working to help war veterans survive. Nursing became a regulated career in the United States in the early 20th century.

Every published definition for Registered Nursing today shows two main themes:

1. A Registered Nurse provides essential services to the restoration of health and well being in patients.
2. A Registered Nurse must meet a common standard of education to obtain a license.

In practice, an RN develops their own personal definition for nursing every day. As a future RN, you may even begin developing your own personal definition after reading through this guide.

Where Do Registered Nurses Work?

RNs work in a variety of settings. Most RNs in the United states work in hospitals. Other common environments include outpatient care centers, and home health care services. The chart below comes from statistics reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014. These statistics don’t guarantee that you will work in a hospital or an outpatient care center. They simply give you a good idea about what types of industries are hiring RNs today.

What Does a Registered Nurse Do?

Registered Nurses have many duties ranging from simple to complex. What an RN can and can’t do depends on the state that the RN is working/licensed in. What you do as an RN can even change depending on the company you work with. However, there are some commonalities among certain RN work environments. Two different work environments with big commonalities are hospitals, and private clinics.

In a general hospital…

  • An RN begins the day by taking a report from the previous shift. This “passing on” of patients help nurses know what they will need to do during their shift.
  • The day-to-day duties of an RN change depending on the patients they are caring for.
  • Nurses manage and document patient charts.
  • Nurses administer medication.
  • Nurses end their shift by “passing on” their patient reports to the next nurse on duty.

In a private clinic…

  • An RN begins the day by preparing exam rooms, medical equipment, and patient charts. This is often done before the doctor arrives in the morning.
  • The RN checks the vitals, height, and weight of the patient.
  • The RN interviews the patient for more information about why they came in that day.
  • The RN handles all follow-up medical exams and patient education.

Nursing Career Satisfaction: Three Top Factors

Nursing Career SatisfactionThere are many deciding factors that go into choosing a new career. The biggest factor is whether the career is satisfying. It’s hard to tell objectively whether a career is satisfying. The subject of RN job satisfaction is popular among career scientists. There is one consistent key to keep in mind when looking at these studies: RN job satisfaction depends on many, many factors. No one factor or personal trait will make someone a good RN. No one specific work environment makes every RN happy. Ultimately, these factors are up to your own personal opinion and attitudes. On that note, the scientific research shows three main factors influencing job satisfaction levels for many RNs.

1. Working environment
2. Communication between staff
3. A sense of empowerment

Communication is Key To RN Satisfaction

The first two factors (environment and communication) come from a study in early 2000. The study sampled 834 nurses in England. According to the study…

“The analysis contributes to a growing body of evidence demonstrating the importance of interpersonal relationships to nurses' job satisfaction. In particular, the positive contribution of the cohesiveness of ward nursing staff is highlighted, but the potential for many current NHS staffing strategies and work environments to undermine the development of cohesive working relationships is also noted.”

To put it simply, communication between nurses is important. Also, work environments and staffing strategies can undermine job satisfaction if not handled properly.

Empowered Registered Nurses Are Happy Nurses

The third factor (empowerment) came in a study published in May of 2003. The purpose of the study was to find “the relative influence of nurse attitudes, context of care, and structure of care on job satisfaction”. In other words, they wanted to find if anything made a difference for nurses on the job. The study sampled 90 nonrandom registered nurses. For more information please click on this link.

“The major predictor of intent to leave was job dissatisfaction, and the major predictor of job satisfaction was psychological empowerment. Predictors of psychological empowerment were hardiness, transformational leadership style, nurse/physician collaboration, and group cohesion.”

Going From LPN to RN or BSN: What You Gain, What You Loose?

Many healthcare professionals look to make the switch to an RN position. Usually these healthcare professionals, such as LPNs, already know what an RN is and what Going From LPN to RN or BSNan RN does. If you’re an LPN, you probably work with RNs every day. However, many LPNs do not expect the stresses that come from transitioning into the new role. There are two main concerns when making the switch from LPN to RN.

1. The loss of a “hands on” role.
2. The feeling that what you learn in school is not valid in “real life” practice

LPN to RN Key Factor 1: Loss of a Hands on Role

The loss of a “hands on” role feeling comes from a study published in 2008 by the International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship. The study took a sample of students who had just graduated from an LPN to RN bridge program.

“Findings revealed that students appreciated recognition for their previous accomplishments. They valued affirmation of the unique challenges they faced. And, they associated gains from their new university education with some loss of their hands on bedside nursing role.”

What these students felt resonates even with LPNs today. Going from an LPN to RN positions means a loss of direct, hands on patient interactions. For some LPNs, this comes as a relief. For other LPNs, this may mean reconsidering the jump to an RN licensure.

LPN to RN Key Factor: School Doesn't Prepare for 'Real Work'

The second feeling, “what professors teach in school is not 'valid' in practice”, comes with almost any healthcare career. The concern shows up in another study published in 2008, by the ScholarWorks foundation. The dissertation found themes in interviews with 25 nurses who had been practicing between 2 and 5 years. Each of these nurses had at least 1 year of experience in a specialized area of healthcare.

LPN to RN Key Factor

“Most respondents claimed that what they learned in school is not applicable in real life. In short, they were only trained to know how something is done rather than discovering the why behind it. In addition, their schools focused too much on skills and theories, thus leaving the practical experiences behind, making it very hard for them to adjust during their first days at work.”

When considering a career in nursing, it is important to understand that what they teach in nursing school can only prepare a foundation of knowledge, which real experiences will build on. Many new nurses who ace their nursing school exams still struggle to adjust to their new job. The foresight that comes with this knowledge can allow those considering the RN career path a real idea of whether they can cut it as an RN.

It is important to note that these two feelings are easy to overcome once you expect them. As it is with everything in life: knowledge is power. With this knowledge, you now have the power to determine if a nursing career is right for you.

LPN Bridge Programs


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LPN to BSN Programs

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LPN to RN in 12 to 18 Months

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LPN Guide to RN-ADN / RN-BSN

Read our guide to learn all you need to know about earning your RN or BSN Degree. A Guide to Earning Your ADN or BSN


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Chapter 3: Financial Aid Guide for LPN to RN Programs

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Chapter 4: Surviving LPN to BSN Online Programs

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Feature – 11 Ways to Pay for Nursing School

There is no denying that paying for college can be expensive. However, not following your career goals can be even more expensive. If you earn a bachelor's degree, you can expect that your lifetime earnings to be one million dollars more than someone who holds a high school diploma or GED. Whether you attend college part-time or full-time, at a two-year or four-year degree program, or even at a short-term certificate program, you will need to figure out how to pay for your education.


how-to-pay-for-nursing-schoolHow to Pay for Nursing School

Generally, you can keep the cost of higher education lower by attending a public, state supported, college or university rather than a private school. No matter where you end up attending nursing school, you can get a quality education form a public four-year college or universities, a two-year community college, or a private vocational or certificate program. Public and private institutions offer everything from a CNA certificate to a Master's level nursing degree. Fortunately, wherever you decide to prepare for your career in nursing, chances are very good that financial aid will be available to you. However, bear in mind that by attending a fully accredited institution you will enjoy the broadest spectrum of financial aid opportunities available to you. Read More >>>

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