Open Doors with a Bachelor
of Science in Nursing
LPN to BSN programs offer career mobility to practical nurses who are looking to advance their careers and take on more responsibilities. Designed to be completed faster than a traditional BSN, graduates are eligible to sit for the state licensure examination to transition into a registered nursing role without having to quit their current practical nursing job.
The need for qualified nurses is increasing and employers are seeking professionals with the proper skills and knowledge to keep up with population demands. Find out how an LPN to BSN program can enhance your career and how the degree can serve as a stepping stone to further education later on down the road.
Advantages of Earning a BSN
Earning a BSN can provide career and earnings advantages, but aside from that, prospective students should strongly consider the degree because it’s becoming the new standard for registered nurses. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommends that a four-year bachelor of science in nursing degree become the minimum educational requirement for entry-level nurses, and many employers are already starting to adopt this idea. Although an associate degree can still qualify one for an RN job, that is likely to change in the near future. With many organizations supporting the goal of having 80 percent of nurses hold a BSN by the year 2020, more than 18 states already require all practicing RNs with a certificate/diploma or associate degree to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing within their first 10 years of service.
In addition to changing educational requirements, below are a few other solid reasons to earn a BSN now:
Increased scope of practice
BSN programs consist of courses that delve deeper into fundamental nursing and patient care concepts than those in diploma and associate degree programs, which means graduates are more qualified to work autonomously and hold greater responsibility. Additionally, BSN programs are much more comprehensive, offering knowledge that can be applied in all health care settings, such as critical care, outpatient care, public health, and mental health. Curriculum is also more well-rounded, diving into broader concepts such as clinical, scientific, and decision making skills, community health, patient education, and management and leadership.
Foundation for advanced practice nursing
Nurse practitioners, health managers, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and other advanced practice nurses must complete a master’s degree in order to be certified and licensed to practice. BSN programs provide foundational studies in evidence-based care and nursing theory that are essential for students who aspire to graduate studies. Additionally, a bachelor’s degree is often required for admission to MSN programs.
More job opportunities
As mentioned, the curriculum in a BSN program is more comprehensive, which means graduates are prepared to work in a wider range of medical settings and roles. Unlike an LPN, a BSN nurse is well-prepared to provide care in private homes, outpatient centers, and private clinics – all areas where employment is expected to grow rapidly as the population ages and hospitals focus more on acute care and preventative services.
Certain RN jobs are more lucrative than others and having a BSN can open the doors to these careers and their corresponding salaries. For example, RNs who want to take on more of an administrative or leadership role may want to consider becoming a medical and health services manager. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these BSN degree holders earned a median annual salary of $92,810 in 2014, while registered nurses earned $66,640 that same year.
LPN to BSN Overview
LPN to BSN Programs
|Who is it for?||LPNs who wish to expand their scope of practice, increase earning potential, take on more responsibility and have autonomy, and/or prepare for graduate level education.|
|What is covered?||General education courses as well are mandatory nursing courses that cover key topics such as health assessment and promotion, pharmacology/lab, leadership/management and health policy, evidence based nursing, informatics, and practicum experience.|
|Program length||Three to four years, depending on part-time or full-time study. Some schools also offer accelerated online programs that take into consideration existing work experience and can be completed in nine months to two years.|
|Skills gained||Nurses learn skills that qualify them for work across a wide range of practice, including nurse leadership, adult care, emergency care, pediatrics, public health, renal dialysis, and gerontology. Graduates are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN.|
|Clinical experience||Each program establishes requirements for clinical experience that supplement classroom learning. Students may complete these requirements on campus or at approved medical locations.|
|Financial support||Students at accredited nursing programs are eligible for federal financial aid programs and for nursing scholarships. Some employers (such as hospitals) may offer stipends or tuition reimbursement programs for current employees.|
LPN to BSN Programs In-Depth
Once prospective students have decided whether an LPN to BSN bridge program is right for them, the next step is understanding what is involved. Below is a breakdown of the process, from prerequisites to clinical hours.
Nursing prerequisites must be satisfied before the student can enroll in an LPN to BSN program. These can include both lecture and clinical courses that are offered by the school as part of the transition degree. Common LPN to BSN prerequisites include studies in:
- Oral/written communication
- Anatomy and Physiology
Understanding the Application
Specific requirements will vary from school to school, but in general, applicants will be expected to fulfill the following:
- Provide evidence of a minimum overall GPA in previous education (typically at least a 2.0)
- Provide evidence of a minimum science GPA (typically 2.5 or 3.0)
- Provide evidence of a “C” or better in all prerequisite courses
- Provide verification of employment as a practicing LPN
- Take the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS)
- Some schools require BSN applicants to attend a telephone or in-person interview
Required Courses & Curricula
Colleges offering LPN to BSN degree programs start with the understanding that the student has already completed the basic curriculum for practical nursing. Commonly, credits are broken down into prerequisites, core general curriculum, and nursing track courses, although the distribution of classes varies by institution. Credits may be offered for the student’s previous clinical or work experience. General core curriculum and prerequisites may include classes in mathematics, psychology, microbiology, anatomy, humanities and nutrition; courses specific to nursing may include the following:
|Transition to Professional Nursing||The overall nursing process provides the framework for this course in transitioning to professional nursing roles and practice. Introduces the expanded scope of practice for BSN-educated nurses.|
|Policy and Ethics in Nursing||Students explore contemporary issues in healthcare policy and nursing ethics. Emphasis is on ethical decision-making and the consideration of social, economic and political factors.|
|Human Experience in Acute and Chronic Illness||Provides the background and context for evidence-based care; nurses learn skills specific to delivering patient-centered care across the lifespans of individuals with complex conditions.|
|Adult Health Clinical||This clinical course focuses on the knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary to provide effective care to adult patients. Includes the practice of intravenous therapy.|
|Introduction to Emergency Nursing||Students learn a systems approach to emergency room procedures such as patient triage, interventions, and monitoring.|
|Public Health Nursing||This course examines the dual practices of health promotion and disease prevention for individuals, communities and organizations. Current issues are used as the basis for assessment and intervention assignments that are carried out in community settings.|
Each LPN to BSN program establishes its own number of required clinical hours, based in part on nursing board requirements and the student’s previous clinical experience. A rule of thumb is for students to undertake three clinical hours for each hour of didactic classes, however, some schools combine didactic and clinical hours into a single course. Clinical hours at current LPN to BSN programs range from 400-700 hours, and students can often waive requirements by documenting relevant previous clinical experience.
Online LPN to BSN Programs
Online LPN to BSN programs offer flexibility in attending lectures and competing clinical hours, and are ideal for working practical nurses who cannot commute to school. Distance learning for nurses is not an isolated experience, however. When they’re not studying on their laptops, nursing students work under the supervision of nurse educators during clinical training in actual healthcare settings. Meanwhile, technology keeps them connected with cohorts and professors. Some of the common tools used in the digital classroom include:
- Email Email is the lifeblood of online LPN to BSN programs, as students can stay in touch with peers and communicate directly with their instructors without having to make an office appointment. Email may also be used to receive class materials or submit assignments.
- Chat rooms and Discussion Boards Nurses participate in discussions and collaborate on studies via live chat or threaded discussions available for 24/7 access. Students can catch up on discussion posts throughout the day.
- Live and Recorded Lectures While an online LPN to BSN program is primarily asynchronous and self-paced, it also may feature live, scheduled presentations from instructors or visiting lecturers. Other classes may be delivered by streaming multimedia or podcasts. In such cases, nurses can return to didactic sessions at any time, replaying them as refreshers or while studying for exams.
Top Careers for Nurses with a BSN
Nurses who have earned a BSN can often move into specialized fields in nursing after several years of experience and continuing education courses or certifications. Examples of top careers for BSN nurses include:
Informatics nurses work at the crossroads of healthcare and technology, performing research and analysis of patient and provider data in an effort to improve the outcomes in clinical practice. Informatics nurses also provide research support for clinical policy implementation and change. To qualify for the role, BSN nurses can pursue informatics certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
Working with kidney patients, these nurses monitor hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis procedures, helping patients to function in everyday life. Dialysis nurses must be skilled in nephrology and have excellent interpersonal communication skills. Special dialysis certifications are available through the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission.
The nurse advocate plays a critical role in facilitating communication between patients, their families, and medical practitioners. Advocates may explain healthcare procedures, options for treatment, billing, and other issues concerning the patient’s well being. They also communicate a patient’s beliefs and practices to treatment personnel. In addition to obtaining a BSN, nurse advocates undertake continuing education in social work, patient insurance, and specialized research.