LPN To BSN Bridge Programs
Compared to LPN bridge programs to earn an associates degree in nursing and become an RN, the LPN-to-BSN bridge program is far more difficult. Earning a Bachelors of Science in Nursing requires considerably more planning and coursework, and the academic work involved is more rigorous and challenging.
But the end results are worth it. Studies indicate that those nurses with a BSN make an average of 20 percent more money annually than LPNs, and their career options are more promising and diverse as well.
Employment opportunities for registered nurses are expected to increase approximately 25 percent in this decade, and with a BSN degree there’s a good chance that LPNs can equal or better the average RN salary of $65-70K. In addition, the BSN is also necessary for those nurses who are considering an MSN.
Graduates of this kind of program can work in a wide array of specialties and nursing environments, with options expanding to include management and administration, nursing education and far more specialized and well-paying clinical environments.
In addition, they can often have a voice in the future of academic programs and how nursing is planned and conducted, a possibility that simply isn’t available for the average RN.
What follows is a basic review of LPN-to-BSN programs. It includes information about coursework and grades, experience, licensing, online programs and job options and career paths. In addition, several sample programs are also listed, along with links to get more information about them.
Coursework and Grades
To be eligible for an LPN-to-BSN bridge program, candidates usually must be licensed LPNs, which means they must have completed a one-year, post-secondary nursing program. In addition, some bridge programs require at least a year of clinical nursing experience to go with the advanced degree.
These requirements can vary quite a bit, so its important to define goals and check out different schools to find a program that matches up well with specific needs.
The coursework for these programs is more extensive than that of most bridge programs. In addition to the usual classes on anatomy, physiology, nursing pharmacology and so on, candidates must take classes in nursing ethics, special needs nursing, advanced patient care and other similar topics.
The requirements for grades in LPN-to-BSN bridge programs varies widely. Most schools require at least a “C” average or above in all prerequisite courses, along with a minimum GPA of 2.5 in both the program they enter and any previous programs.
Credit from some of these earlier programs is eligible for transfer, and earlier GPAs are sometimes averaged in with existing GPAs. The rules and procedures for doing this should be carefully examined when considering any LPN-to-BSN bridge program. In addition, candidates should carefully review the requirements for continuing education credits and contact hours.
It should also be noted that both grade and GPA requirements may be significantly higher at better and more advanced schools, so this should be carefully considered as well. In general, the more elite and rigorous the school, the better the professional opportunities and accompanying salaries.
One option to help with curriculum and testing is to enter a test prep program. This kind of program augments the normal classwork LPNs must do to achieve a BSN by helping them prepare to pass the NCLEX-RN, and it also helps LPNs get credit for existing classwork.
This can make the path to getting a BSN faster and easier, and looking into it is well worth the time for LPNs considering this particular track.
In addition to having a high school diploma or the equivalent and taking the SAT or the TEAS, candidates for an LPN-to-BSN program usually must have a current nursing license and at least six months experience working as an LPN.
Depending on their work experience, LPNs may be able to take a competency test and skip some of the basic or core classes in the bridge program. Those LPNs with relevant clinical experience may be able to test out of this requirement as well, or get credit for previous or ongoing work experience.
This possibility can result in significant time and money savings, and it can shorten the time needed to complete the degree as well.
Licensing, Accreditation and Exams
In addition to the basic licensing requirements, accreditation is important. There are two basic types of accreditation, institutional and specialized. If at all possible, the bridge program should be approved by the state to simplify the licensing process. The state rules should be carefully examined in advance.
Due to the large variety of specialized work in nursing, there are many different types of accreditation involved, depending on the goal and coursework. Licensing agencies check this accreditation carefully, and some bridge programs are accredited by more than one agency dealing with these issues.
In addition, there are regional accreditation organizations that often investigate qualifications in specific programs. A list of these can be found at http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html#RegionalInstitutional.
Because of the variety and difficulty of the coursework necessary to complete most LPN-to-BSN programs, the online option can offer significant advantages. It gives students additional flexibility by allowing much of the classroom work to be fulfilled online while getting the necessary clinical work at a local hospital or clinic.
The quality of the online program is important as well. Candidates should check out the pass rates of prospective bridge programs for the NCLEX-RN, and the schools track record for hiring after graduation. Its important to have a variety of choices and then select the best possible option.
More information about this and other aspects of online programs can be found at http://lpntobsnonline.org/.
More extensive lists of different programs can be found at http://education-portal.com/search/find.html?c1=312&c2=366&c3=372&q=2-24&schoolType=locationAll&zip=&state=ALL&clk=artb, which also includes information about the requirements of the individual programs.