A career as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) can be a rewarding experience. However, many LPNs want to increase their job opportunities and responsibilities by becoming a Registered Nurse (RN). Additional benefits to transitioning are more opportunities to specialize in various areas of nursing, or beginning the path to a graduate-level degree in the field, which can allow nurses to become teachers. There are many accredited programs that help LPNs transition to RNs, and earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Programs have different requirements for admission to BSN programs. Many will allow LPNs to apply some of their previous coursework to the program, if they meet specific grade requirements and the coursework was completed within the last five years. Credit toward the BSN may be offered by examination for students that have completed relevant coursework, but not within a specified timeframe. LPN to BSN programs are designed to be completed in three years or less of full-time study. In some cases, programs may be available that allow students to attend part-time.
LPN to BSN programs typically requires approximately 120 credit hours for completion. These requirements include general education coursework in the areas of math, science, English, social science and humanities. After students complete their general education courses, they begin nursing courses. Most programs include coursework in patient assessment, pharmacology, dosage calculations, medical ethics, patient nutrition, theory and research. The structure of the program also includes specialized classes for patient care in surgery, critical care, maternity, gerontology and mental health. The latter semesters of the BSN program emphasize more practical experience and less coursework. Students typically complete a specified number of clinical and laboratory hours in designated health care settings, such as hospitals or residential care facilities.
The BSN program is not only designed to prepare LPNs for a smoother transition into the new demands and responsibilities of becoming RNs, but also prepare them for licensure requirements. All nursing students must pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed as an RN in any state. Nursing programs that are accredited will provide sufficient education and practical hours for their students to be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN. Many of these programs offer preparatory classes to help students prepare for the exam, and some programs may require students to attend these classes.
Costs for LPN to BSN programs can vary widely. Depending on the length of the program, tuition may be $20,000 or more. Additional costs include fees, uniforms, and books. Furthermore, the cost of the NCLEX-RN is over $300. Many students may be eligible for federal and state grant programs, student loans and/or educational benefits provided by their employer. Students should also research opportunities for funding or student loan repayment in exchange for working after graduation in specified medical settings.