Whether a school calls its program LPN to BSN or LVN to BSN will simply depend on the state where it is located. The admission requirements, length of the program and curriculum, however, will be similar or identical regardless of the name.
The best LPN to BSN bridge programs will usually take you 3 to 4 years to complete depending on your prior education and the pace at which you work. These programs are for nurses who already have an LPN license and would like to earn their bachelors in nursing as well as an RN license.
Although all LPNs and LVNs have already taken the National Council Licensure Exam for practical nurses (NCLEX-PN), the LPN or LVN to BSN track prepares them to sit for the RN version of this exam (NCLEX-RN). After you complete your LPN to BSN program and pass the licensing exam, you will have the same credentials as nurses who have completed traditional BSN programs.
The curriculum of accredited LPN to BSN schools can vary from school to school, but you can expect to spend the first 2 to 4 semesters fulfilling general prerequisite requirements before moving on to upper-division nursing classes. LPN to BSN programs recognize that most of their students already have general clinical experience. Therefore, the second half of these programs emphasizes the theoretical aspects of nursing and includes specialized courses in clinical practice, leadership and nurse management.
Who should enroll in an LPN to BSN or LVN to BSN program?
If you have worked as an LPN or LVN and would like to deepen your knowledge of nursing and expand your professional opportunities, then an LPN to BSN degree might be the best path for you to achieve these goals. The credentials that you earn in an LPN to BSN program make it possible to pursue a graduate degree in nursing at the masters or doctoral level, or apply for higher-level RN jobs like clinical manager or nurse educator.
Top LPN to BSN nursing programs are often shorter than traditional BSN programs because most students enter these programs with significant clinical experience and some college coursework. Therefore, if you have your LPN license and have completed some basic college coursework, an LPN to BSN program is probably the fastest route toward your bachelors degree in nursing.
Finally, it is important to point out that the nursing profession is evolving and becoming more and more specialized. As a result, the demand for highly educated nurses is also growing. Many healthcare organizations now view a BSN as an entry-level degree for nurses, particularly in specialized fields like pediatrics, medical-surgical nursing, psychiatric health and home health nursing.
If you are an experienced LPN and approaching retirement, the time and financial investment of an LPN to BSN program may not be worth it for you. However, if you are a younger nurse and you plan to be in the profession for many years, earning your bachelors in nursing can be a great way to improve your pay, learn new skills and make yourself more valuable on the job market.
LPN to BSN and LVN to BSN program courses
Both traditional programs as well as the best accredited LPN to BSN online programs will include courses that are designed to help you make the transition from LPN to RN and learn about the theoretical foundations and specialized sub-fields of nursing. A few of these courses might include:
LPN to RN transition course
This course builds on the previous knowledge and core competencies that you acquired while you trained to become an LPN and highlights the areas of responsibility that are unique to RNs. You will learn about professional ethical and legal issues as well as the role of critical thinking in patient care.
Foundations of nursing
In this common LPN to BSN class, students are introduced to current and historical conceptions of nursing from both a medical and social perspective. Students track the development of the science and occupation of nursing through the years and across different cultures.
Pharmacology for nurses
In this course, you will evaluate the history of pharmacology and examine modern organizations like the FDA that influence its practice today. You will learn to recognize the biochemical foundations for various drug classes and drug interactions as well as how they interact with the body.
Gaining admission to an LPN to BSN or LVN to BSN program
In order to apply to an LPN to BSN program, you must have an active LPN or LVN license from an accredited nursing program. These programs usually also require you to have and maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5 in all higher education courses.
In addition to filling out a standard application form and paying an application fee, a few schools will require you to take a college entrance exam like the TEAS V and earn a specific minimum score. These exams provide a way for colleges to assess each student’s ability to meet the challenges of bachelors-level coursework.
Otherwise, the application requirements for both brick-and-mortar and online LPN to BSN programs will differ very little from standard BSN and ADN to BSN programs.
Holding a job during your LPN to BSN or LVN to BSN program
Most students enrolled in LPN to BSN programs are already licensed professionals who have been working and earning a regular nursing salary for years. Like most of these students, you may not want to quit your job and give up your income during your studies.
Like ADN to BSN programs, most LPN to BSN programs recognize that their students usually want or need to continue working while they earn their degree, and they try to make this possible. These programs use many of the same strategies used by ADN to BSN programs to allow you shift classes and clinical practice hours to times and locations that fit your schedule.
For example, you will find a number of online nursing programs at the LPN to BSN level that allow you to complete coursework requirements at the time, place and pace that best suits your schedule. Other programs may group all of your classes together into 2 days or hold classes in the evening so that you can work during the day. Some programs will even let you perform your clinical hours on the job, which lets you earn money and complete degree requirements at the same time.
Although holding an LPN job while you earn your bachelors in nursing can be difficult, most LPN to BSN students find that the chance to earn a good salary, avoid student loans and keep their clinical skill sharp during their studies is worth a few years of challenging time management.
Studying online in an LPN to BSN or LVN to BSN program
If you decide that an LPN to BSN online program is your best option, you will find a variety of hybrid programs that mix hands-on clinical experience with Internet coursework in subjects like nursing pharmacology and theory.
Most of the top accredited LPN to BSN online programs allow you to satisfy science and liberal arts requirements through departmental exams or by taking classes at partner institutions. Often, local community colleges will also offer your prerequisite courses in an online format at a fraction of the price that a university charges for the same class. However, after you have completed these basic courses, you will have to take your upper-level nursing courses through your main school’s online program.
Additionally, most schools will offer you a choice between full and part-time online LPN to BSN tracks. And a growing number of these programs even allow students to choose the location where they will complete their clinical assignments. This makes it possible for you to enroll in some of the top LPN to BSN programs even if the school’s traditional campus is hours away from where you live. Be aware, however, that even these programs may require you to travel to their physical campus once or twice during your studies.
Although online programs are becoming increasingly flexible, some distance-learning programs still require students to complete their clinical hours at a specific healthcare facility. If you are sure that an online degree is right for you, be sure to check each program’s website or simply call their offices and ask about their clinical practice requirements.