Major Differences You’ll Notice When Going from LPN to RN
As an LPN, you probably work with RNs every day. You probably already have a general idea of how your daily duties will change. However, many LPNs do not expect the stresses that come from transitioning into the new role. There are two major differences when making the switch from LPN to RN.
- The loss of a “hands on” role.
- The feeling that what you learn in school is not valid in “real life” practice
Feeling as though you've lost a more hands on role is common and has even been validated through 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 BSN 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 position 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.
The second feeling, “what professors teach in school is not 'valid' in practice”, comes with almost any healthcare career. The concern showed up in another study published in 2008, by the ScholarWorks foundation. The dissertation sought to find themes in interviews. These interviews were conducted 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.
“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.”
It is important to understand that what they teach in nursing school can only prepare a foundation of knowledge. Your real experiences will build on that knowledge every day. Many new nurses who ace their NCLEX still struggle to adjust to their new job. This is completely normal. Don’t worry if you’re struggling in your new position! This happens to every new nurse. You may even have an advantage over other recently graduated RNs through your experience working as an LPN. You will probably learn to adjust much faster than your peers.
New Areas of Practice After Going From LPN to RN
After you’ve gotten your RN certification there are a lot of exciting specializations that are open to you. However, most new nurse graduates start working in non-specialized areas and THEN branch out. So these specialties take a few years of experience under your belt. As an LPN, you may be an exception to this case.
For example, let’s say you worked as an LPN for 10 years. 6 of those years were spent working in a pediatrics unit. It’s very likely that after you get your RN license you can move straight into a pediatrics specialty.
If you’d like to train into a brand new certification that is exclusive to RNs here is what’s available to you…
- Ambulatory Care Nursing
- Cardiac-Vascular Nursing
- Gerontological Nursing
- Informatics Nursing
- Medical-Surgical Nursing
- Nurse Executive
- Nursing Case Management
- Nursing Professional Development
- Pain Management Nursing
- Pediatric Nursing
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing
Each of these specialties offer “board certified” credentials. That means that you would take a nursing board examination to become officially certified in that area. You can read more about all of these specialties at NurseCredentialing.org.
LPN VS RN Salary and Employment
LPNs and RNs are paid very differently. The average difference between LPN and entry level RN hourly rates is $7/hour! What you will be paid as an RN varies widely depending on your years of experience, the specialty you’re working in, and the work setting. For example, an RN working part time in a family clinic is going to make less than an RN working as a Cardiovascular specialist in a world renowned hospital.
As the chart shows, LPNs make significantly less money than RNs. The statistics from this chart are courtesy of PayScale.com.
Finding Your First RN Job After An LPN to RN Program
Landing your first job as an RN after you graduate from your LPN to RN program can be difficult. Thankfully as an LPN you already probably have years of experience as a nurse. You can think of landing your first job as an RN just like you did landing your first job as an LPN.
First, you will want to narrow down your search based on where you want to go with your RN career. If your dream job is to work in a gastroenterology specialty, you should start looking for hospitals with doctors who work in that specialty. Depending on how many hospitals you find in your area you may even want to narrow it down to hospitals that have units dedicated to the specialty.
Second, further narrow your search to places that are currently hiring RNs. As an entry level nurse, you will probably want to start in a general medical surgical unit. Sometimes none of the hospitals you found are looking for entry level nurses. In this case, you can simply keep their job openings page bookmarked and check back every few weeks. Some job postings pages even have email list options, where they will email you if a position becomes available.
Third, start applying to the entry level positions at the hospitals that you found. You can use the application and interview tips that we wrote about in previous guide chapters.
These steps can be repeated as many times as is necessary to find your first RN position. This process can take anywhere from a month to an entire year. Don’t be discouraged if it takes you this long – it’s a completely normal part of the process. If you are having trouble finding hiring hospitals in your area, you may want to consider moving elsewhere. Some hospitals will even help with moving costs!
How to Complete a RN Job Application After An LPN to RN Program
Completing a job application after an LPN to RN program is very similar to how you completed job applications as an LPN. You will get applications either in online or paper form, and then fill them out completely. You should always have your documents ready before you begin. Necessary documents include…
- Your resume
- A copy of your RN license
- Your driver’s license or a state ID
- You social security number
Once you’ve got the application in front of you simply fill out all of your information. The documents listed above should be enough information for a basic application. Some applications require more information – so read all of the instructions carefully. You may even be required to take a test before you interview for the position. Before submitting the application, check to make sure that it is filled out completely. There should be no spelling errors. It should use complete sentences where applicable. This is the first impression you will have on the company you’re applying to, so make it a good one!
Submitting applications is a great first step towards getting your dream RN job! Be sure to read our application and interview tips here and here for more information.
- Your LPN Career: The BIG Guide - July 27, 2015
- ADN VS BSN Degrees [InfoGraphic] - July 20, 2015
- Is it worth it to get an LPN before nursing school? - July 1, 2015