It is not surprising that LVN to RN program options are similar to those of an LPN program, however there are some considerations that LVNs should be aware of. An LPN is a licensed practical nurse. An LVN is a licensed vocational nurse. Although the job titles are not quite the same, the jobs themselves are the same. Whether a nurse is called an LPN or an LVN is dependent on where the nurse is employed. According to Concorde College, the term LVN is used strictly in California and Texas, while LPN is used throughout the rest of the United States. So, a student may be enrolled in either a practical nursing or vocational nursing program, but the end result is that the student will sit for the NCLEX-PN and receive their license to practice nursing.
An LVN may desire to further their education; there are multiple options to do so. There are LVN to RN and LVN to BSN programs available; LVN to RN programs will allow the nurse to earn an associate's degree, while an LVN to BSN program will allow the nurse to earn a bachelor's degree. Career goals should be assessed when selecting the type of RN degree.
For the LVN who opts for an LVN to RN program, there are also multiple options.
- Traditional programs: a traditional ADN program does not necessarily take into consideration that the LVN has prior nursing experience. The LVN that selects this program will be selected from a pool of other applications – students that may have just graduated high school, other LVNs, other healthcare professionals seeking a nursing degree, and other learners going back to school for a different degree. These programs are typically two years long with summer breaks, once prerequisites are completed. These programs are full-time which may be a downside to certain types of students.
- Online programs: an online LVN to RN program is often desirable because the student can choose to enroll part-time or full-time. This allows the LVN to balance work, school, family and other obligations. The length of the program depends on if the student chooses a part-time or full-time option.
- Fast track programs: a fast track LVN to RN program allows the LVN to complete RN education in three semesters; the semesters are fast-paced and back-to-back, with no summer break. This option is great for LVNs who are seeking to get their RN degree in a short amount of time.
- Diploma programs: a diploma RN program is typically a hospital-based program. The programs are highly variable in terms of length. In addition, the program does not take into consideration past nursing experience; an LVN who enrolls in this program will be with all types of learners, most of whom have no nursing experience.
The abundance of options available allow the LVN to select a program based on their needs, from a fast-paced program to be completed quickly, to a part-time program that allows the LVN to continue to work full-time or spend a lot of time with their family.
Costs of an Licensed Vocational Nurse to Registered Nurse program are highly variable. The cost will depend on the type of program selected and what type of school is selected (such as a community college, public university, or private university). Often, colleges and universities have a tuition estimation calculator posted on their websites to assist the prospective student with figuring out the cost of their education. For example, Excelsior College has an online tuition estimation calculator that allows the student to select their degree program (ADN, BSN, MSN), select their military status and how many credits have already been earned, and a monetary value is presented. Find nursing school net price calculators, and for typical LPN to RN program costs, we suggest that you look at other “unexpected expenses” such as textbooks, other miscellaneous fees, and uniforms. It is a great idea to have a dollar figure in mind when selecting a nursing school, and using tools such as those listed above can certainly be helpful.
Nursing school is generally not cheap. When selecting and enrolling in a nursing school, it is a great idea to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what types of financial aid is available to the student. In addition, it is a great idea to apply for scholarships. Scholarships may be available from the college, the community, and many organizations. If the student is already employed as an LVN, there may be tuition reimbursement options available. Sometimes an employer will opt to pay a portion of tuition if the nurse agrees to work for a certain amount of time after graduation. These are all ways that can make nursing school much more affordable.
The term “waiting list” is often associated with nursing school. While it is true that certain types of nursing programs do use the dreaded waiting list, there are options that allow the nurse to skip the wait list. A traditional program, a fast-track program and a diploma program will all use typically use the wait list, if these schools are attended “on-campus”. One option to avoid the wait list is to attend a school “off-campus”, such as an online school. While all online schools are different in their specifications, a lot of them allow an unlimited amount of students into their programs, provided they meet minimum requirements, such as a minimum GPA and certain prerequisites.
The typical reason that a waiting list exists is that the need for more nurses is higher than the amount of spots available. Put simply – there is not enough instructors to teach all of the students that want to become nurses. Although a student may meet the minimum requirements, there may be fifty other students who also meet and exceed these requirements, allowing these students acceptance into the nursing school. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that nursing-related jobs will increase by 71% between 2010 and 2020 – that's a lot of nursing jobs that may not be filled immediately due to nursing school wait lists!
New graduate RNs in California are experiencing a conundrum, according to California Healthline. Employers in California are often requiring experience prior to hiring a nurse, although there is a definite shortage of nurses. This is leaving new nurses without the experience to fill these positions, while also leaving a lot of holes in the job market. This could partially be due to baby boomer nurses working past retirement age due to liking their jobs and not being ready financially to retire. In addition, there are hospitals in California that are requiring a bachelor's degree for hire; “…4.6% in 2011 to 8.2% in 2013… more than half of employers require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing for positions beyond that of Staff Nurse.” However, there is hope for new RN graduates in California; although newer nurses are having a difficult time finding work, the amount of employers hiring new nurses has been increasing yearly. “Expectations for hiring more new graduates during the period of 2012-2013 grew slightly over the prior year, from 21.6% to 22.3%, and continued to increase into 2013-2014, reaching 24.1%…”
Texas has over fifty transitional nursing programs that allow an LVN to continue for either their ADN or BSN. Programs range from online schools to schools in different types of population settings. The abundance of nursing schools in Texas may be in part due to the high need of nurses. Texas also has a booming job market in most job fields. In fact, Texas employs 187,290 RNs and 75,780 LVNs. It is also worth noting that Texas LVNs “…are much more concentrated in Texas than in other states.” What does this all mean? Texas is a great place to find a job as a nurse, whether as an LVN or an RN.
According to Nurse Journal, the average salary of an LVN in California is about $55,000. This is 7th highest in the nation. The average salary of an LVN in Texas is $49,000, which is 25th highest in the nation. Once the LVN becomes an RN, the salary increases incrementally. According to the same website, the average salary of an RN in California is $71,000, which is 8th highest in the nation. The average salary of an RN in Texas is $64,000, which is 20th highest in the nation.
Nationwide, the average LVN/LPN salary is $42,040 and the average RN salary is $66,200. Working as an LVN in California or Texas will definitely allow the nurse to earn higher than the average salary. Working as an RN in California or Texas will allow the nurse to make a similar wage to the average salary. See an table of RN salary & employment breakdown by state.
RN Jobs Listed by State and Salary Level