LPN To RN Bridge Programs
The LPN-to-RN program is by far the most common way up the education ladder in the nursing profession. It has helped launch and advance thousands of nursing careers, in both general nursing and in a wide array of specialty work. This kind of bridge program has also proven to be invaluable for addressing nursing shortages in states and territories where the demand is high for qualified RNs.
In addition, for many LPNs it also represents the first substantial step in establishing themselves as highly-qualified nurses. Many LPNs start their careers by doing menial work for a relatively low hourly rate or annual salary, and LPN-to-RN bridge programs give them more substantial qualifications.
They also help them make a lot more money. According to the Bureau of Labor, RNs make an average of over $20,000 per year than LPNs, so getting a degree and a license via this kind of degree can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a career.
What follows is a brief tutorial about the basic parameters of the typical LPN-to-RN bridge program. It includes information about coursework, grades, necessary experiencing, licensing and exams, and the tradeoffs involving online versions of the program. Finally, it also includes a list of several LPN-to-RN bridge programs, along with links to get information about them.
The primary goal of most bridge LPN-to-RN bridge programs is to bridge the gap between the educational requirements necessary for an LPN to those of an RN. The coursework is designed to provide an understanding of nursing theory and science, patient care methods, nursing pharmacology and standards for professional practice.
Coursework includes classes in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, mental health nursing, maternal nursing care, geriatric nursing and many other subjects. This array of choices allows LPNs to specialize early on if they choose to do so, or get a broad-based standard RN education to establish themselves in the profession.
In addition, there are also fast-track LPN-to-RN programs available. The goal of these programs is to allow LPNs to acquire an associates of applied science in nursing, although some are designed to prepare students to earn an RN license and do not award a degree.
Most of these programs can be completed in 3-5 semesters, and they lead to eligibility to test for the NCLEX-RN exam. Information about these programs can be found at http://education-portal.com/articles/Online_LPN_to_RN_Fast_Track_Program_Information.html
Accreditation and Licensing
Perhaps the most important decision a prospective LPN-to-RN candidate must make when choosing a bridge program is what degree they want.
Bridge programs are normally available through community colleges and vocational schools that offer two-year programs, but there are also programs available through four-year colleges and universities.
The shorter programs lead to an associates degree, while the four-year option leads to a bachelor’s degree that can be a more powerful tool in the job market.
Regardless of the choice of programs, though, the school must be accredited, and preferably state and board-approved to facilitate the licensing process.
Both of these should be checked in advance; the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission is a good source of accreditation information. Shortcomings in either area can lead to significant issues when it comes to getting a license and a job, and also with entry into further nursing education schools and more advance bridge programs.
Another important part of choosing a bridge program is how well it qualifies LPNs to get an RN license. This process is relatively simple; candidates must take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to get their licenseThe exam costs $200 to take, along with an application fee that is usually less than $100. A criminal background check that includes fingerprinting is both included and required in many states.
One relevant factor that must be checked is the school’s pass rate for the NCLEX-RN exam. There are two rates that should be checked, the initial pass rate that gives a percentage for the first time tested, and the general pass rate that includes statistics for those who require multiple attempts to pass the test.
Virtually all bridge programs mandate that LPNs be licensed and have some amount of working experience, preferably in a hands-on environment. Some programs require LPNs to pass a test of competence in basic nursing tasks, including administration, patient care and clinical procedures.
Online vs On-Site
Because nursing is a demanding profession that includes a lot of hands-on work, a mix of classroom and clinical experience is required for most bridge programs.
Much of the classroom work can be completed via online programs; indeed, these programs have made considerable inroads in the academic corner of the nursing profession.
They allow students to complete coursework at their own pace, either at home or in the workplace or on campus. They also offer a different source of networking and job support that can prove useful during job hunting after earning the online degree.
But the clinical requirements for this type of bridge program must be completed in person. Students must come to campus for labs, and many programs mandate that clinical rotations be completed at a hospital or other healthcare facility. Some programs use live broadcasts for the online portion of the coursework through systems designed to support this capability.
Its also important to remember that many online schools, like their physical counterparts, require a staged approach to coursework. This means students may be required to take intro-level coursework in subjects such English, biology, or other basic areas before moving on to advanced courses.
This can be an inconvenience for LPNs who already have an advanced level of knowledge in one or more of the required areas. It may be possible to test out on the intro work to get to the advanced work, and this is an important question to research when considering LPN-to-RN bridge programs.
A partial list of online bridge programs for LPNs seeking to become registered nurses includes Davidson County Community College (NC), Indiana State, Allegany College of Maryland and Panola College in Texas, among many others.
For a complete, state-by-state list of programs and details about coursework, job prospects, etc., access http://www.bestnursingdegree.com/programs/online-lpn-to-rn/.