LPN to BSN “bridge” programs typically take about three to four years to complete. Initial admission requirements are the same as applying to any four-year college or university. There are preparatory courses that you also may consider.
LPN to BSN Bridge Programs
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.
NOTE IF YOU HAVE YOUR RN LICENSE: if you have your RN license, you should consider one of the RN to BSN programs accepting applicants, or an RN to MSN program. You can click on either to view our detailed write-up of each plus programs available.
IF YOU ARE AN LPN/LVN: You can consider an online test preparation course that helps prepare you for the RN NCLEX and your RN license. Below is a sponsored online LPN to RN program that you may be interested in - they are currently accepting applicants into their program.
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.
Notable LPN to BSN Degree Programs
While there are many LPN to BSN degree programs to consider, there are some that stand out above the rest. What makes the difference between a good program and a great program? Of course, some of the criteria will be different from person to person, but generally speaking, a few things to look for include NCLEX examination pass-rates, accreditation, internship and clinical rotation programs, professor experience, and overall school ranking.
While you can always do your initial research online to see rankings, professors, and coursework, it is always recommended to visit schools in-person in order to speak with admissions counselors face to face, meet professors, and get a feel for what campus is like first-hand. If you are seeking an online degree, take a tour of an online classroom or talk to previous students. If you want to get the most out of your degree, you want to be sure it’s the right fit before you enroll.
The Berkeley College LPN to BSN program is the only program of its kind in New Jersey. The program benefits from highly trained faculty who have experience in the field of nursing. Courses are hands-on in the field, the lab and in the classroom. In order to enter the program, students must have completed an accredited Practical Nurse program in the U.S., have an unrestricted, active or inactive license as a practical nurse, and worked a minimum of 2,080 hours within the last two years as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
Prairie View A&M University:
The Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at program Prairie View A&M University is offered at the Texas Medical Center Houston campus. The program is designed to take students four academic semesters to complete. In order to enter the program, students must have graduated from an accredited vocational technical or a community college program with a 3.0 GPA, be a current licensed vocational nurse in the state of Texas, have a minimum passing score on the pre-nursing admission test, and have had at least one year of full time employment as an LVN.
The Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at National University is an Accredited LVN to BSN program in San Diego, California. In order to enter the program, students must complete the National University undergraduate application process, hold a current, active license to practice as a Licensed Vocational Nurse in the state of California, complete prerequisites, and complete the nursing program application. In order to graduate, students are required to complete 180 quarter units. Courses cover topics such as nursing quality of care, legal and ethical standards of practice, and effective communication with patients and physicians.
Choosing an Online BSN Program
You’ve made the decision to go back to school to get your BSN. That’s great news! Now you have to figure out what kind of nursing program you are going to choose. One alternative option is an entirely online degree, also called distance-learning programs. There are a few things to consider before deciding whether or not this is a good choice for you.
Indiana State University is currently the only fully online LPN to BSN Program. The program is accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, but is not recognized by several states, including NY, Massachusetts, Montana, South Carolina, and Arizona. However, other schools, like NSDU Distance Learning LPN-BSN Program offer primarily online courses, but do have a few mandatory on campus courses.
Pros of an Online Degree Program
Balancing work and family obligations while going back to school can be a real challenge. Time, effort, and geography have been identified as three major barriers in returning to nursing school (Morgenthaler, M. 2009. Too Old For School, Barriers Nurses Can Overcome When Returning To School, AORN J (89), 335-345). Online programs allow you to eliminate the scheduling conflicts that can interfere with your other responsibilities. Taking coursework online also minimizes travel time, which can significantly complicate an already busy schedule. If you work odd hours, squeezing in class material at times that are convenient to you could mean the difference between making it through a program and having to put your degree goals on hold. Online courses also allow you to get through material at your own pace. You can quickly get through areas of the curriculum you feel comfortable with, while spending longer periods of time on the content you need to focus on.
Cons of an Online Degree Program
One of the benefits of attending classes in person is having a professor get to know you and your individual needs face to face. With an online degree program, you won – t have that personal interaction. It may be a barrier to receiving individualized help if you are struggling with material or falling behind. Another downside to distance learning is the lack of interaction with peers. Studies show that working with peers enhances academic performance and self-confidence. (Callahan, K. 2008-2009. Academic-Centered Peer Interactions and Retention in Undergraduate Mathematics Programs. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice, 10(3), 361-389). Additionally, the US Journal of Academics reports that research has shown that those who do not have good time management skills can easily procrastinate and then fall behind in online course material. If you perform better when surrounded by like-minded peers or you have trouble creating structure for yourself, you might find an online degree program difficult to complete.
Assessing Your Needs
The first step to success in your LPN-BSN path is finding the right program for your needs. Online LPN to BSN programs can be a great option for a working LPN who wants to go back to school. This style of program will work best for someone who is a self-starter and able to manage their own time effectively. However, if you think you – ll benefit from a more personal educational experience or you need the structure that comes along with a traditional baccalaureate program, an online degree might not be the best choice for you.
Pursuing Your LPN to BSN
Pursuing your LPN to BSN is a worthwhile career investment. Navigating through the many requirements can be rigorous and overwhelming. Take it step by step. Creating small goals will make the process seem manageable. Think of your Baccalaureate degree as a slow journey – it’s a marathon, not a race!
The first thing you need to start thinking about before applying to nursing schools is fulfilling pre-requisites. You can find out what pre-requisites are required by looking online or calling the nursing schools you are considering and asking for their information packet or academic handbook. You can take the necessary courses at the same college or university where you plan on going to nursing school, or you can attend classes at a community college with the intention to transfer your credits later on. Find out if there are any local community colleges that offer the pre-requisite courses you are looking for. According to a nursing advisor at Lourdes University in Ohio, it isn – t uncommon to see LPN to BSN applicants who have taken their pre-requisites at a nearby community college. Regardless of where you take these courses, make sure your grades meet most nursing school standards. Nursing schools typically require a minimum GPA of 2.5 and a C (some schools will accept a C-) or better in all pre-requisite courses for consideration in the nursing program.
Once you’ve completed your pre-requisites, you can apply to a nursing program. The nursing admissions process varies from school to school. When you find the one or two programs you – re interested in, it’s a great idea to sit down with an advisor or office administrator in the nursing department who can answer any questions you have and help you sort out the first steps in the process. Meeting someone face to face helps you make a personal connection, so when you – re not sure what to do or you hit a roadblock, you have a point person to turn to.
Some nursing schools require a standardized exam before acceptance into their program. The type of test and acceptable scores will vary from program to program. East Tennessee State University asks that all applicants complete certain TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) prior to being considered for admission, while the Fitchburg State School of Nursing requires that LPN to BSN applicants successfully pass three NACE (Nursing Acceleration Challenge Exams) before acceptance into the program. Whatever your prospective school requires, take the time to brush up on some old test taking skills or find a review course to help you focus on the need-to-knows.
Transcripts that show your completed pre-requisite course work will also be required during the LPN to BSN application process. Obtaining official transcripts can take time so requesting those as soon as you are able can help avoid delays when trying to meet admission deadlines. It’s also a good idea to begin asking for letters of reference in case the schools you are applying to require them. There may be a specific format that the school would like a recommendation letter to follow. For instance, the University of Washington has a reference letter form on their website which should be used and included with their application. Make sure you know your school’s reference letter guidelines before asking a reference to write a letter on your behalf.
The first challenge in nursing school is simply applying! Setting small goals, asking lots of questions, and staying organized are key to keeping a cool mind during the nursing school admission process.
Some Common BSN Careers
We wanted to provide you with some potential careers to expect or explore after earning your BSN.
Critical Care Nurse
Also known as ICU Nurses, this role is highly sought after by those who hold a BSN. Critical care nurses care for patients who are critically ill or at high-risk for life-threatening health problems. Not all nurses are cut out for the job; you must be able to think on your feet, be an expert on a wide variety of nursing skills, and be an excellent problem solver and critical thinker.
Critical Care Nurses usually work in emergency rooms, critical care units, and walk-in clinics, and tend to work long, rotating shifts, as patients are treated around the clock. In addition to a BSN, some nurses choose to earn the Certified Critical Care Nurse (CCRN) designation offered through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).
Travel nursing is a popular option for those who graduate with a BSN because it pays well and lets you travel the country, and sometimes the world. The job comes with great benefits and a variety of experience as you are sent to various locations, thus meeting new people and working in different settings and environments. Travel assignments can last anywhere from 8 weeks to a year.
Nurses get remuneration packages, which include housing, meal subsidies, medical coverage, and more.
Travel nurses must hold a BSN or be a Registered Nurse and most have had at least one year of experience. While having an MSN is beneficial, it is not a requirement. In fact, many people study part time to get their MSN while they are also working as a travel nurse.
Public Health Nurse
Public Health Nurses work to improve the health of specific communities and populations. Their job is to work with physicians and care teams to treat and diagnose patients, facilitate vaccines and immunizations, collect and analyze data, identify at-risk patients and potential health crises, and implement educational programs.
Public Health Nurses often work with underprivileged and low-income families to provide healthcare that they otherwise would not be able to afford. They particularly care for women, children, and the elderly. Public Health Nurses are mostly employed by the government, but may also work in at schools and universities, businesses, and occupational health facilities.
LPN to BSN Programs: Using Your Skills to Transition
Written by Kelli Dunham, RN, BSN
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 double-check 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.
FAQ About Getting Your LPN to BSN
Written by Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, BSN
You – ve thought about going back to school to get your BSN degree more than once. But there always seems to be a reason why it isn – t a good idea. Maybe you doubt your academic abilities or life always seems to get in the way. Whatever your reasons, they – re getting in the way of you advancing your nursing career. Read on to debunk the common fears and obstacles that can get you off track when trying to pursue your education.
Is it the right time?
There’s no doubt that going back to school with work and family obligations can be stressful and, at times, overwhelming. Sometimes there just doesn – t seem to be enough time in the day. The good news is many nursing school’s now offer part-time BSN programs. Online degrees are also an option, allowing you to complete coursework without ever having to enter the classroom. Call your local nursing schools to see what programs they offer.
Is it affordable?
School is expensive, but there are ways you can maximize your funding options to make it as affordable as possible. Check with your employer to see what they offer for tuition reimbursement. According to the Nursing 2011 Salary and Benefits Report, approximately 64% of employers provide tuition reimbursement, a percentage that has held steady since 2006 despite the economic downturn. Belong to any nursing associations? Often they have some resources, such as grants and scholarships to assist nurses who want to go back to school.
Is a BSN worth it?
This is something only you can decide. Going back to school takes time, energy, and money. But try to find a nurse who has received her BSN degree and regretted it. Then try to find someone who always wanted to go back to school but never did and regretted it. Which one do you think you – d be more likely to come across?
Am I too old to attend school?
There’s no such thing. And if you have trouble believing that, maybe Bertie Gladwin can help change your opinion. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the ripe age of 90. As an adult learner, you have an advantage. You have life experience and you know how to navigate a system if you need help. If you – re worried about how old you – ll be by the time you finally get your degree, think about this: Not getting your degree won – t keep you young – you – ll be the same age several years from now whether you have your Bachelor’s degree or not. So why not get out there and grab it?
Have I been out of school too long?
You won – t be alone. With the push for nurses to pursue their education, more and more adult learners are going back to school. If you – re worried about the workload or the advances in technology, start with one or two basic classes. Once you spend a little time back in academia, you – ll be surprised at how easily you catch on – you know what they say, – It’s just like riding a bike. – See if you can convince a friend or coworker to go back to school with you for some built in support. If you find you – re having trouble, talk with your instructor sooner rather than later. They can assist you with making challenging material manageable or by providing you with helpful study tips.
Choosing to pursue your BSN is a serious decision. If this is something you truly want, don – t let these fears get in the way of your career goals.