LPN to BSN Bridge Programs
Many licensed practical nurses (LPNs) go on to become registered nurses (RNs). LPN to BSN programs are ideal for those who want to take full advantage of the many opportunities available to nurses with bachelor’s degrees.
These “bridge” programs take about three to four years to complete. Initial admission requirements are the same as applying to any four-year college or university. You must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some programs may require that you take the SAT or the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), which evaluates basic grammar and math skills. You’ll need proof of a current LPN license, and at least six months experience working as an LPN.
Find LPN to BSN Programs in Your State:
Before you start the nursing curriculum, you need to complete classes necessary for a bachelor’s degree such as social sciences, English, math, history, or basic life sciences. You must achieve a minimum GPA in these classes (usually 2.5) to be considered as a BSN candidate. Those with higher GPAs are preferred.
The nursing curriculum begins with classes such as anatomy and physiology, nutrition, pharmacology, and statistics. Clinical classes may be in specialties such as medical-surgical nursing, psychiatry, maternal and child health, and geriatrics.
An advantage of being an LPN is that you may be able to take a competency test and skip classes in subjects such as basic skills. Depending upon your work experience, you may also waive some clinical classes, or get credit for your previous or current work experience.
LPN to BSN programs often have flexible class schedules with online components or evening and weekend hours to allow you to keep working while attending school.
The curriculum prepares you to take your state’s RN licensing exam. Contact your state board of nursing for details about this exam. You can also check out the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
Having your BSN opens up a world of professional and educational opportunities. You can work in almost any nursing role and practically anywhere that requires nursing expertise or skills. This includes clinical settings as well as private businesses such as insurance or case management companies. Having your BSN also means you can go on to graduate school and get your MSN, Ph.D., DNP, and become an advanced practice nurse in roles such as practitioner, anesthetist, midwife, or clinical specialist.
LPN to BSN Programs: Using Your Skills to Transition
Written by Kelli Dunham, RN, BSN
Kelli is an RN with 15 years of clinical nursing experience and the author of 4 health/health professions related books, including the American Journal of Nursing Nursing Book of the Year, How to Survive and Maybe Even Love Nursing School (FA Davis, 2008, 3rd edition).
If you’re an LPN considering going back to school to complete an RN/BSN course, the obstacles may seem huge and your resources may feel small. However, with some good planning, and attention to details and intention, you can make it through.
Plan Your Plan
In carpentry, the saying is “measure [the wood] twice, cut once.” In nursing we use the same care before we administer blood products or insulin, asking another nurse to check our calculations and preparations. If you’re an LPN going back to school to get your BSN you’ll need to doublecheck not only that the program you’ve chosen will work for your schedule, but also that you have the necessary paperwork and testing done far advance of any deadlines.
While all school admissions require paperwork, sometimes even massive amounts of it, LPN to BSN programs often have much more paperwork than even generic BSN programs. This is usually because the credit of the transition from LPN to BSN comes either through testing out of classes or providing portfolios to demonstrate your work experience. Completing portfolios and scheduling and studying for tests are both multiple step projects.
Of course, if you’re working as an LPN, you’ll be saved some of the paperwork when you get to clinicals. For example, you’ll already have a current CPR certificate and be up to date on immunizations and TB testing. Even if you don’t have paper copies of the documentation needed for these type of things to give to your school, employee health at your workplace will probably be able to provide you with the copies you need.
One Small Step At A Time
There is no question that school can be overwhelming, especially when you’re employed full-time, and managing responsibilities with your family or in your community. However, as a working nurse, you already have many time management skills, including the most important nursing skill of all: the ability to prioritize.
On the first day of each class when you get the syllabus, highlight the important dates like exams and when large projects are due. Then break each semester into manageable bits and try to schedule vacation days around due dates and exams. This will be especially helpful if you have more than one exam in more than one class scheduled in any given week.
Make yourself a study schedule and divide your work into chunks according to how much time each task will take. For example, perhaps you will need three hours of uninterrupted working time to complete the final draft on a paper. Before you write the final draft; however, there are related tasks that you will need to complete many of which might only take a few minutes. If you know how to fit small tasks into your busy schedule, you’ll feel more in control and you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish in these small chunks of time.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
When the going gets tough, the tough remember why they set out on the path in the first place. Post index cards with inspirational quotes above your studying area. Also post reminders of why, specifically, you’re in school. For example, if you are enrolled in an LPN to BSN program because there is a nursing job you can’t access without the RN credential, find a photo of someone doing that nursing job and post it in your study area, tape it into your planning notebook or even make it the wallpaper on your cell phone.
If your main motivation for going back to school is financial, keep illustrations handy of how earning more money will make your life better. What will be different? Will you be able to take your family on a much-needed vacation? Pay off bills? Save for retirement?
Finally, celebrate all your small successes on your path to your BSN. Your reward doesn’t have to be something tangible like a new pair of running shoes; it could be as simple as spending 20 minutes reading a book of your choosing (no textbooks!) after you pass an exam.