Returning to nursing school can be an overwhelming prospect for those interested in LPN to RN Programs. Knowing what to expect from the process can help prepare you to be successful in applying, being admitted, and graduating from your chosen program. Understanding the needed commitment level of different types of programs will also help you decide which program is right for you, as well as if this is the right time to embark on continuing your education.
Types of LPN to RN Programs
There are three ways to become an RN: through a diploma program, through an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) program, or through a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) program. While LPN programs are open to students with no prior nursing background, each program also offers a specific track for the Licensed Practical Nurse who is looking to further his or her nursing career and education. With the completion of each program, the graduate has the opportunity to sit for NCLEX exam, the passing of which results in RN certification.
Diploma programs used to be the primary way to become an RN; however, they have become increasingly rare, and there are only about 80 nursing programs in existence today. This type of LPN to RN program takes place largely at a hospital, and involves a significant amount of hands on work. The program takes anywhere from 2-3 years to complete for the new nursing student.
ADN programs result in an Associate’s degree. They are sometimes referred to as Associate in Applied Sciences in Nursing (AAS) or Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN). For the new nursing student, the program takes about 2 years to complete; however, most programs have quite a few pre-requisites and co-requisites which can stretch the required completion time to about 3 years. ADN programs are offered at 2- and 4-year colleges, and are the most common way to become an RN.
BSN programs result in a Bachelor’s degree, and generally require about 4 years to complete for the new nursing student. In addition to nursing courses, there are additional general education, science and math courses required. The BSN is a professional degree programs, and thus graduates are considered professional nurses. Upward mobility as a nurse is more easily obtained for those who possess a BSN degree; in fact, many graduates of diploma and ADN programs eventually return to obtain a BSN.
Getting in to an RN Degree Program
All LPN nursing schools have specific admissions requirements, although they vary slightly depending on the institution and type of nursing school. Many nursing degree programs require an orientation or interview, a pre-nursing exam, and a certain level of physical ability or fitness. Some programs also require an essay expressing intent to become a nurse. All LPN to RN programs require that prospective students have a current LPN certification.
Pre-Requisite Courses for LPN to RN Degrees
While each institution and degree program type has its own list of pre-requisite courses, there are several that seem to be standard. These include Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, Psychology, English Composition, and Math. Other common courses are Public Speaking, Pharmacology, and Microbiology. Depending on the institution, complete of these courses may be required before admittance to the program; in other cases, the courses are offered as co-requisites, and can be completed alongside required nursing course. Typically, LPN to BSN programs have about twice as many pre- or co-requisite courses as ADN or Diploma programs.
Required Courses for LPN to RN Programs
While each of the three types of LPN to RN Programs differ in what kind of, and how many, general education, science and math classes are required for graduation, the nursing courses offered are very similar. Most programs have a specific LPN to RN Bridge programs. At some programs, this class simply serves as a way to set up RN program within the context of prior LPN knowledge; at other programs, this course may actually be divided into two or three courses and may serve to excuse LPNs from some of the required courses, allowing them to shorten the overall length of the program.
The other required nursing courses cover the general areas of nursing, and have a mix of practical and theoretical learning. These include Maternal/Infant nursing, Child and Family Nursing, Adult/Basic Principles in Nursing, and Crisis Care. Because RNs are often in leadership positions, sometimes upon immediate hire, almost all programs offer courses in Leadership and Management and Issues and Trends in Nursing.
In addition to the LPN to RN Bridge programcourses that help students opt out of some of the required courses, many programs offer the opportunity to test out of certain classes. For the licensed practical nurse who successfully completes the LPN to RN transition course, or tests out of the maximum number of courses, the average length of LPN to RN programs is significantly shorter than for new nursing students. Diploma programs can be shortened from 2-3 years to 1-2 years, some ADN programs can be completed in just 3 quarters, or 1 calendar year, and some BSN programs only take 5 semesters (2.5 years) versus the usual 8 semesters (4 years).
Finding the Best LPN to RN Programs for You
With all of the options and potential variables, it can be tricky to decide which programs best suit you. Some things to consider are how much time you want to commit to a program at this point in time, including pre- and co-requisites, admission requirements of a particular institution, and how you can get the most ground out of your existing licensed practical nursing experience and certification.
Find an accredited nursing schools. Not only is it good for your employement prospects, it is almost essential if you want to earn an advanced registered nurses degrees, or if you want to earn your master's of science in nursing (MSN) degree.
Also consider your personal career goals: even if a BSN degree sounds like too much commitment right now, it may be the best choice for you if you want to advance quickly, or pursue more advanced specialties. Your current life circumstances must also come into play: there are several LPN to RN programs at the Associate’s degree level, and a few at the BSN level, that are offered entirely on-line, which can make it easier to fit a new nursing degree into your life.
As you pursue your LPN to RN degree, be sure that you ask the right questions, and consider all of the variables so that you can find the best LPN to RN programs for you.