CNA to LPN Programs

A CNA to LPN program is a great way to advance in the medical field. Here, we outline top questions and a complete timeline.

May 26, 2022 • 4 Min Read

edited by Veronica Freeman

Society needs licensed practical nurses (LPNs). These professionals conduct vital tasks for patients like giving medication, bandaging wounds, and monitoring health.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the need for LPNs to increase 9% in 2020-2030. LPNs earn a median annual income of $48,820. For comparison, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) earn only $30,830. The BLS projects an 8% increase for this career between 2020-2030.

CNAs perform tasks similar to that of LPNs, but take on more of an assistant role. LPNs work as leaders and make a positive difference in the workplace. Keep reading to learn more about earning an online CNA-to-LPN degree.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online CNA-to-LPN

How Are Online CNA-to-LPN Classes Different From Their Campus-based Counterparts?

Fortunately, a CNA-to-LPN degree translates well to an online program. Classes occur entirely online, but students must complete clinical rotations in person. A CNA-to-LPN online curriculum covers the same topics as a campus-based curriculum.

Distance learners choose between a synchronous or asynchronous program. Synchronous programs have set virtual class meeting times. Asynchronous programs allow for more flexibility with pre-recorded lectures.

What Are Some of the Required Classes and Subjects?

In an online CNA-to-LPN degree, aspiring LPNs learn how to provide patient care effectively and ethically. Learners hone skills such as changing catheters and recording patient notes. They also practice soft skills like interpersonal communication with patients and their families.

Common classes in an LPN program include anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and emergency care. Students discover how patient needs vary by age.

How Do Online LPN Students Obtain Clinical Training and Experience in a Distance Learning Environment?

Students earning their CNA-to-LPN online get clinical experience locally at nursing homes or hospitals. However, some programs may require temporary relocation for this requirement. Most programs set specific standards for clinical rotation facilities. Learners should research the qualifications for their school.

Since all LPN programs require clinical experience, online programs may advertise themselves as hybrid programs. Certain programs may require a yearly in-person orientation.

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CNA vs. LPN Programs

CNA

  • Education Requirements

    Students must complete a 4-12 week certificate at a nursing home, hospital, clinic, or vocational school.

  • Certification/Licensure Requirements

    Graduates must pass a state-specific competency exam and background check.

  • Responsibilities/Scope of Practice

    CNAs work under LPN or RN supervision and provide basic patient care. They may also perform some administrative tasks, such as answering phones, checking vital signs, and changing beds.

  • Continuing Education

    Each state sets continuing education standards, but CNAs do not typically need to take continuing education units.

LPN

  • Education Requirements

    After passing a pre-entrance exam, students must complete a certificate/diploma or associate degree in nursing, taking 1-2 years. Students take these programs at community colleges, vocational schools, and some large hospitals.

  • Certification/Licensure Requirements

    Graduates must pass the NCLEX-PN exam.

  • Responsibilities/Scope of Practice

    LPNs work under RN supervision and provide care as part of a team. Responsibilities include giving medications, collecting patient data, and helping with minor procedures or patient rehabilitation.

  • Continuing Education

    Each state sets its own continuing education standards. Most require a specific number of annual continuing education units to maintain licensure.

CNA-to-LPN Timeline

Earning a CNA-to-LPN online includes many moving parts. Here, we break down each step and what to consider. The exact timeline for earning an online CNA-to-LPN degree may vary by person.

When picking a program, learners should first verify its accreditation status. The U.S. Secretary of Education recognizes the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education as the official accreditation agency. Aspiring students should read class descriptions to ensure the program aligns with their career goals. They should also consider program price and graduate success rate.

Degree-seekers should research state education requirements. Each state sets its own requirements for LPN licensure. They require a set number of clinical hours and a licensure exam. Many states participate in reciprocity agreements, meaning nurses can sometimes transfer their licenses between states. Most programs tailor the requirements to meet state licensing standards. Therefore, students should consider programs in states where they want to practice.

An online CNA-to-LPN degree typically takes full-time learners about one year to complete. These students do traditional coursework and clinical rotations during their studies. Degree-seekers practice basic nurse duties, like giving medicine, under professional supervision. They also build on their CNA knowledge. Most schools feature strict GPA requirements.

All U.S. nursing boards require nurses to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The exam covers four topics: safe and effective care environments, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. Learners may take up to five hours to finish the test.

LPNs must take steps to maintain licensure. State nursing boards require a set number of yearly continuing education hours. Professional organizations offer these educational opportunities. Certain states only accept continuing education credits from specific sources. For example, the Missouri nursing board only accepts credits from NetCE.

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LPN Licensure Requirements

All LPNs need at least a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited school. Graduates meeting their state's clinical hour requirement take the NCLEX. The earliest learners can take the exam varies by state. Most people take the exam about 45 days after graduation.

The adaptive exam includes 75-265 questions. It ends once students demonstrate their skill as a nurse with at least 75 correct answers. Or, it ends once the test taker fails too many questions. The exam takes up to five hours to finish. Aspiring nurses can take the test up to eight times in one year to pass. After passing and getting a license, nurses must complete continuing education hours to maintain it.

Benefits of Transitioning from a CNA to a LPN

People who continue their education with an online CNA-to-LPN degree earn an increased income. It also comes with the other benefits discussed below.

Graduates leave the program able to make important, informed decisions. They use their knowledge to improve patient care and direct CNAs. LPNs make a positive difference in the workplace with their gained knowledge. Instead of just performing assistive tasks, they experience more autonomy.

An LPN degree opens more doors. Students become LPNs in nursing homes or hospitals. Or, they can pick a concentration and earn specialized roles as pediatric LPNs or obstetrics gynecologist LPNs. The additional education makes learners qualified job candidates.

LPNs get the chance to enhance a patient's care plan. They collaborate with RNs, doctors, and other specialists to ensure patients get the best aid possible. Instead of just following orders, they evaluate possible decision outcomes to make the best choices.

Earning an LPN brings graduates one step closer to working in even more advanced roles. For example, they can go on to become RNs. RNs experience even more involvement in care plans, rather than just basic comfort care. They also earn more money than LPNs, with a median annual income of $75,330. Some nurses enter academia and become professors.

Beyond the LPN

Thanks to convenient online programs, learners pursue their career goals around work responsibilities.

Students wanting to advance their education beyond an LPN should consider an RN program. Some schools offer LPN-to-RN programs entirely online. The transitional program takes 2-4 years to finish.

Some graduates become nurse practitioners (NPs), requiring a master's degree. An LPN-to-MSN program takes full-time learners 2.5-3 years to finish. NPs diagnose and treat certain ailments. They earn a median annual income of $117,670. The BLS projects the need for NPs to grow 45% in 2020-2030, much faster than average.

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