How Does a Licensed Practical Nurse Become a Registered Nurse?

How an LPN becomes an RN will depend on the education and experience of the LPN. Almost all LPNs follow the established academic path of graduating from an LPN-to-RN program. These are specifically designed for LPNS who want to further their education and direct their career path towards being an RN. LPN-to-RN programs offer accelerated curriculums that qualify graduates to take the national RN licensing exam (NCLEX-RN).

Academic Options

There are actually two types of accelerated LPN-to-RN programs: LPN-to-AND and LPN-to-BSN. LPN-to-AND programs allows LPNs to earn associated nursing degree’s and immediately qualify for the NCLEX-RN exam, which only requires a two-year degree. These programs take one to two years to complete and are often found at technical schools and community colleges. Earning an associate’s degree will allow the LPN to work as an entry-level RN. Then again, LPNs who earn a bachelor’s degree with RN license are much more likely to work independently, receive promotions and manage other nurses. Bachelor programs take two to four years to complete and are usually available at four-year colleges. Many programs offer specializations in areas like geriatrics, pediatrics and critical care, according to the American Nursing Association.

An Associate’s Degree in Nursing

Those who pursue an associate’s degree in nursing will be able to broaden their clinical experiences and develop more comprehensive nursing skills. These programs are best for LPNs who want to work in small clinics and physicians’ offices. LPN-to-RN associate’s degree programs require applicants to have current LPN license, which is obtained through completing an authorized LPN training program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). LPN-to-RN associate’s degree program courses provide students with a foundation in basic nursing skills and the medical sciences. Topics include anatomy, physiology, nutrition, family nursing, microbiology and pharmacology.

An Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

LPN-to-RN bachelor programs usually result in students being awarded a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. BSN degree programs, which are sometimes called bridge programs, concentrate on transitioning students into professional nursing careers and preparing them to continue research pursuits by entering graduate school in a health care field. LPN-to-RN bachelor programs will usually accept prior professional work experience as academic credits, meaning that LPNs with a two-year degree will start their education near the end of the junior year. The curriculum provides comprehensive training in areas like patient assessments, leadership skills and advanced nursing practice topics. Common core courses include pathophysiology, pediatric nursing, patient psychology and nursing management.

Why LPN-to-RN Programs Make Sense

Many LPNS want to become RNs, but they aren’t sure if they can justify the required time, money and energy. There are more than enough reasons why becoming an RN makes sense for career and financial goals. First, RNs make more money than LPNs every year, which is sometimes up to one-third more. This is partly because they qualify for more positions and specializations. RNs can tailor their job to match their target skills and interests. If they pursue a graduate degree, they can become advanced practice nurses who specialize in specific health condition, such as oncology and diabetes management. In the long run, RNs will receive a higher return of investment on their education. Unlike LPNs, RNs are generally not required to work under the supervision of supervisory nurses.

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Starting as an licensed practical nurse and moving on to a register nurse is a good goal and an easy one to attain. While, both jobs are stable, moving into an RN position will give degree holders more money, more options and more flexibility.