Tips on How to Choose the Best LPN to RN Program

This article describes what an LPN to RN program is, and what a nursing professional needs to do to earn the designation. This article also will describe the key factors one should consider as you choose an LPN to RN program. We also will provide a recommendation for a program to consider.

What Is an LPN to RN Program?

An LPN to RN program is either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing program. It is designed for the current, licensed licensed practical nurse (LPN) who has had a successful LPN nursing career, but wants to earn their RN designation to improve their career and salary prospects. Using your education as an LPN as a starting point, an LPN to RN nursing program exposes you to a broader and deeper curriculum at a rapid pace.

At the completion of the LPN to RN program, you are qualified to take the NCLEX-RN national examination. Depending upon which program you choose, you can earn your RN with either a two year or four year degree.

Earning your associate’s degree will take approximately one to two years. You will be qualified to work as an entry level RN under the supervision of RNs with a bachelor’s degree. Some RNs with an associate’s degree may also be able to manage LPNs.

The LPN to RN program resulting in an associate’s degree is usually available at local community and vocational colleges, although there are some limited online options.

The LPN to RN program resulting in a bachelor’s degree can be earned at many universities, and there are many online options available today. Both the associate’s and bachelor’s programs will have a required clinical section that needs to be completed in person. This can be done either on campus or in your community at your assigned clinical site.

The purpose of the LPN to RN program is to help you make the transition to professional nursing, higher nursing career pay and better career advancement.

An important part of many LPN to RN programs is the prerequisites that you need to complete. Most LPN programs are only one or two semesters in length. Your nursing background and education are still fairly limited. To earn your RN designation, you will need to complete more prerequisites before commencing the more advanced program. Expect to take these types of courses:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry

After you have completed your prerequisite courses, you will be taking these types of classes below. Your exact program will vary by school and whether you are aiming for an associate’s or bachelor’s:

  • Making the transition to professional nursing
  • Health assessment
  • Pharmacology
  • Nursing research
  • Nursing for adults
  • Nursing in the community
  • Women’s health

After you have completed your RN program, you then can sit for your NCLEX-RN exam. Once you have passed it and been licensed in your state, you can practice at last as an RN.

NCLEX-RN Exam Test Prep Tips

Your associate’s or bachelor’s in nursing program will prepare you to take the NCLEX-RN exam, but you will still need to study to pass it and earn your RN.

The exam can have a total of 75 to 265 questions. How you answer the earlier questions will change how many questions you ultimately see. Among the first 75 questions, 60 are counted; the last 15 are trial questions for future examinations. The examination covers these general topic areas:

  • Physiological integrity
  • Safe and effective care environment
  • Health promotion and maintenance
  • Psychosocial integrity

Here is some important information about preparing for the exam:

  • Take a lot of practice tests. Before you earned your driver’s license, you certainly drove a lot to prepare for the driving test. You should take a lot of NCLEX-RN practice exams that are very similar to the real thing. There are both online and local classroom-based study courses. Many of the programs you can take have an NCLEX pass rate of over 90%. The exam has questions that can play tricks on you and get you to overthink. Practice exams can help you to learn how the questions are worded, and teach you how to get to the root of the question and not get distracted.
  • Study the NCLEX-RN exam itself. If you visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website, you can learn many details about the NCLEX exam. Knowing the types of questions you will see and how the test is formatted will increase your chances of success.
  • Study critical thinking and memorization. It is very important to have critical thinking skills to be a successful nurse. It is not a surprise that you need to show these skills on the exam. Some questions could have several answers that seem right. But you have to select one that is the most right for that particular situation. This requires you to take a lot of practice exams and train yourself to think and read carefully.
  • Eliminate the obvious false answers. Many students find it helpful to view each exam answer as true or false. If the answer is clearly false, you can eliminate it immediately. Then focus more time comparing the possibly true answers. The most obvious answer is not always right, so take your time.
  • Visualize the clinical situation. Remember that the NCLEX exam is checking your skills assuming you are a new nurse, and not an experienced one. You should think of each clinical situation in your head and think about the course of action based upon what you have learned in your RN program.

Why Choose an LPN to RN Program?

There are many reasons to earn your RN designation:

  • RNs earn a higher salary. The RN median salary in 2014 was $66,500 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For LPN salary, the median was only $42,500. That is a major difference of tens of thousands of dollars.
  • RNs have more choices for jobs. RNs have more job possibilities because they are not mandated to work under another nurse. RNs also can custom fit their job to match their interests and skills as they advance. RNs can choose many specializations as they get more skilled and educated, while LPNs have a limited career upside.
  • RNs can advance faster professionally. LPNs simply have a much lower ceiling than RNs. There is nothing wrong with being an LPN as it gets you into the field. But eventually, you will have a higher ceiling on your career if you become an RN. And remember, LPNs can never be a team leader. RNs also can eventually get their master’s degree and become a highly paid nurse practitioner.
  • Better job security. Many healthcare organizations want nurses to have their RN, and some of them expect you to have your BSN. If you have already earned your RN, you will be less likely to lose your job if standards change.

Earning your RN designation also makes sense because there is a very strong, increasing demand for most types of nurses in America. For RNs, jobs are going to grow at a very strong clip of 16% by 2024. This is much faster than average. Why is this happening?

First, the population of the country is aging; people who are older have more medical and health care needs. Nurses are needed to provide additional care and services to older Americans. They also are needed to care for older people with chronic health problems: dementia, arthritis and diabetes among them.

Second, more people can access health insurance because of federal health care reform. There are people who were uninsured in the past who now can get health care.

These factors have caused a strong rise in demand for RNs with both an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree.

LPN to RN Program Option – Associate’s

Many of the associate’s degree LPN to RN programs are offered on campus at community colleges and vocational schools. However, there are today some quality online options as well. One of them is the LPN to RN associate’s program at Allegany College of Maryland. Additional LPN to ADN bridge programs can be found online.

This program has been carefully constructed for experienced LPNs and LVNs. Nurses who hold one of those designations can enter the program in the second year and save on the amount of time they are in school. After completing the program, you can then apply to take the NCLEX-RN exam.

This program does not have any on campus classes for the didactic portion. And the clinical portion of the program may be completed in your community.

Required courses to earn your associate’s degree and your RN are:

  • Nursing Transitions
  • Maternal and Child Nursing
  • Psychiatric Nursing
  • Advanced Medical Surgical
  • Microbiology with Lab
  • Anatomy and Physiology

LPN to RN Program Option – Bachelor’s

If you want to earn your BSN and hold your LPN designation, a good option is the BSN degree program online from the University of Oklahoma. This is a very flexible degree program made for professionals who are current LPNs and want to get their bachelor’s. The entire nursing curriculum is 60 hours, and 30 can be earned via advanced standing exams, and the rest by taking classes in the program. Additional LPN to BSN bridge programs can be found with online options.

This LPN to BSN program has classes on weekends, clinical rotations in the state of Oklahoma, and distance based classes so that working nurses can go to school.

After you complete this BVSN program, you will be able to do all of the following:

  • Provide the safest and most competent nursing care to patients of all backgrounds, populations and families across all healthcare settings.
  • Function at a high capacity as an RN in the nursing profession and work well as part of an interdisciplinary team.
  • Practice as a nursing professional based upon modern and cutting edge evidence.
  • Integrate the confidential and safe use of IT and healthcare IT into one’s work as an RN

Required courses include:

  • Health Assessment
  • Human Experience in Acute & Chronic Illness II – Career Mobility
  • Clinical Nursing III – Career Mobility
  • Community Focused Nursing
  • Human Experience of Disability
  • Nursing Research
  • Contemporary Professional Nursing
  • Clinical Nursing IV
  • Leadership in Nursing Practice

A possibility to consider as an experienced LPN is potentially testing out of some of your associate’s or bachelor’s nursing classes. With proper test preparation, some nursing students may be able to test out of some courses. This can save you months of time and thousands of dollars in tuition costs.

Top 10 Recommendations

  1. Select a CCNE Accredited Program
  2. Go with a Bachelor’s degree
  3. Choose a US News or Princeton Review rated program
  4. Choose 100% online classes
  5. NCLEX-RN exam pass/fail rates are high
  6. Look for highly experienced, Ph.D. instructors
  7. Lower admission rate generally indicates higher quality program
  8. Increase chances of admission with a 3.0+ GPA
  9. Clinical experiences in your local area
  10. Large, active alumni organization can help you find a job

Accreditation

As you are researching which LPN to RN program to choose, it is advised that the program be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or CCNE.

Accreditation is an important factor when getting a nursing degree. An accredited program has met tough requirements that have been set by a respected accreditation body. Accreditation agencies such as the CCNE review nursing programs to determine if students are obtaining a good, quality nursing education.

Accreditation also is important because if a school lacks program accreditation, it can be difficult to receive financial aid.

Summary

Obtaining your RN is a wise career move that will pay off over the years over and over in terms of career advancement and higher salaries.

References

  • Rasmussen University. LPN vs. RN Advantages of Being RN. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/nursing/blog/lpn-vs-rn-advantages-of-being-registered-nurse/
  • Allegany College. Associate’s Degree in Nursing. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.allegany.edu/x1265.xml
  • University of Oklahoma. Bachelor of Science in Nursing. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://nursing.ouhsc.edu/Academics/Bachelors/LPN-BSN.aspx

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