For a licensed practical nurse with an established career and family, the choice to return to nursing school for a BSN degree can be a difficult one. Potential nursing students wonder how they will juggle an already full schedule to accommodate attending classes and studying, and many wonder whether or not the end result would be worth all of the effort. So why are so many licensed practical nurses choosing an LPN to BSN degree program, and how are they making it work?
Perhaps the most commonly stated reasons for seeking a Bachelor of Science in Nursing are those that are most obvious: potential for higher salary, more opportunities for advancement, and a broader range of specialties from which to choose. While all of these benefits can be found from simply attaining certification as an RN, which can be done through an associate’s degree or diploma program, only a BSN degree also gives the recipient a bachelor’s degree. Earning an LPN to BSN degree takes longer than an LPN to ADN degree, but there are benefits specific to the BSN that make the extra time worth it.
More BSN Nurses Equal Lower Patient Mortality Rates
Studies show that there is a direct link between level of nursing education and patient mortality rates, specifically that a higher number of BSN prepared nurses decreases a hospital’s mortality and failure to rescue rates. One study done in 2008 found that for every 10% increase in the number of nurses with BSN degrees, the hospital experienced a 4% decrease in patient mortality. Based on this information, earning a BSN degree actually better prepares registered nurses (RN) with the skills and knowledge needed to do their jobs well.
BSN to Become Minimum Education Requirement for RNs
In light of the connection between patient mortality and nursing education, several national nursing associations have been pushing for all nur
ses to be BSN prepared at the minimum. In 2010, the Tri-Council for Nursing (which actually includes four national nursing associations) released a statement urging all nurses to advance their degrees to either the baccalaureate or masters level. At the moment, obtaining a BSN is not a requirement for becoming an RN, but it could well become so in the future. LPNs who choose either the diploma or associates degree nursing schools may be in for additional schooling in the future when the BSN nursing degree becomes the minimum education level accepted for nurses.
LPN to BSN Degree Leads to More Job and Advancement Opportunities
Even without an official requirement, many RNs who received their ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) are having difficulty finding employment. Many of the larger hospitals prefer BSN prepared nurses, and some will only hire those with a bachelor’s degree. Many students just entering then nursing profession are starting with an ADN and then enrolling in a BSN program shortly after graduating. Though not a bad option, LPNs looking to become RNs can skip this intermediary step with an LPN to BSN college of nursing degree program, a shorter path to BSN than the student with no prior nursing experience.
While becoming an RN through any program will open up more opportunities for advancement and specialization, the LPN to BSN degree paves the way for some specific opportunities that require additional education. Four the most lucrative nursing specialties require a master’s degree, which is easiest to obtain if one already has a BSN. These specialties include Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Midwife, and Clinical Practice Nurse. In addition to having higher average salaries, these specialties give nurses a higher level of autonomy and more opportunities to serve patients. Nurses with Masters Degrees are also more likely to get administrative and faculty positions, which also carry with them higher salaries and more responsibility.
Online LPN to BSN Degree Programs Make Higher Education Easier
The benefits of earning an LPN to BSN degree are clear; however, it can still be a struggle to fit schooling into an already full schedule of job and family responsibilities. Online LPN to BSN Programs solve this problem for many students. Instead of having to rearrange preset responsibilities, students are able to take classes and study when it works for them, allowing them to continue to earn income while earning a degree. The flexibility of deadlines and schedules are designed to accommodate the working student. In addition, since many LPNs already have significant experience in the nursing field, the flexible, self-guided structure of online school of nursing allow LPN to BSN students to spend as much or as little time on a given subject as they need.