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LPN to RN Online Programs

March 31, 2021 | Staff Writers

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LPN stands for Licensed Practical Nurse. This is an entry-level nursing title. LPNs usually deliver practical care, performing day-to-day tasks to support patients and help them stay comfortable. LPNs may measure vitals, take samples, change dressings, and offer other hands-on support in a hospital or clinical setting.

The scope of practice of an LPN is more limited than that of a registered nurse, or RN. Earning an LPN certification takes less time than qualifying as an RN since LPNs can take their licensing exam after completing a one-to-two year-long program of study and taking the NCLEX-PN examination.

Many people who are considering nursing as a career opt to qualify as a practical nurse first because it’s possible to complete an accelerated LPN program quite quickly. Their goal is to get some clinical experience and see whether they enjoy the profession before going on to enroll in a BSN program.

To qualify as a registered nurse, a person must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing and pass the NCLEX-RN nursing certification exam. This unlocks a wider range of nursing opportunities, including the choice of specializations and advanced nursing jobs.

Some nurses enroll in an associate’s degree program or even a BSN program straight out of high school, while others earn an associate’s degree, get some experience working as an LPN, and then pursue an RN bridge program to upgrade their qualifications.

Both of these routes into the nursing profession have advantages and disadvantages. Here, we look at options for topping up an associate nursing degree to become a licensed registered nurse and discuss why it’s worth considering this route, and the career opportunities it opens for would-be lifelong nurses.

Advantages of online LPN to RN programs

If you’re interested in becoming an RN, you’ll need to complete a program of undergraduate study at either associate degree or bachelor’s degree level and pass the NCLEX-RN.

While it’s possible to become an RN with just an associate degree, some states require Registered Nurses to earn the BSN within a set period of time after licensure. New York State was the first to introduce this requirement, called the BSN in Ten, but other states are following suit because research shows that BSN-prepared nurses deliver a higher standard of care and better patient outcomes than RNs who are educated to only the associate’s degree level.

LPNs who have decided they’d like to stay in the field of nursing long-term should consider upgrading their qualifications to the BSN at some point since this will make it easier for them to become advanced practice nurses later on, and open up many other career opportunities.

What are the advantages of an online LPN to RN program?

Many nurses opt to take an online LPN to RN program, because of the convenience of studying in this way. A licensed practical nurse is most likely already employed at a hospital or clinic, and, after having spent time completing an LPN program may not want to go back into the world of academia full-time.

Studying an RN program online means they can continue to work and gain some clinical experience that will help them further their nursing career. Most LPN-to-RN programs are ADN programs, meaning at the end the nurse will have studied everything that’s in a typical undergraduate nursing degree.

One advantage of taking an RN bridge program is that it’s usually faster to study a bridge program than to enroll on a full BSN. There are many top-up programs that allow nurses with the RN title to upgrade their diploma to a bachelor’s degree. In addition, online programs are often more affordable than programs offered at a traditional institution.

If you opt to study for your nursing degree online while you keep your job in a clinic or hospital, you’ll be able to earn while you learn and build up some nursing experience, which will stand you in good stead should you choose to pursue a master’s degree or a doctoral program in nursing later and earn a specialization.

The earning potential differences and career options available to people who have qualified as an RN are massively different to those open to an LPN (or an LVN as they are called in some states):

The above salaries are median salaries as published by the Bureau of labor statistics and include registered nurses with an ADN or a BSN, but don’t include nurses who have pursued a specialization at master’s degree level or higher.

Taking the time to upgrade your education from a postsecondary certificate to a degree and then earning the RN license gives you higher earning potential and the chance to unlock interesting new career options.

What are your career options if you opt for an LPN to RN program online?

Registered nurses have more autonomy and a wider scope of practice than LPNs, as well as the option to pursue a wider range of specializations. Some nurses who are qualified as RNs opt to do work that is quite similar to that performed by LPNs.

For example, they may work in a small clinic, interviewing patients, collecting samples and administering vaccinations, or work on a ward delivering hands-on patient care under the supervision of an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).

Those nurses often feel it’s worth pursuing a higher level qualification because:

  • This allows them more autonomy in their work
  • There are some tasks, such as performing diagnostics and interpreting results, LPNs can’t do
  • The higher standard of training means they can deliver better patient care
  • They’re able to work different shifts due to needing less supervision
  • RNs can usually expect higher salaries than LPNs

Nursing is a broad and interesting field, however, and not all nurses deliver the kind of general nursing care that you’re used to seeing on TV. Many nurses pursue specialist qualifications and focus on specific areas of nursing, earning titles such as:

  • Pediatric nurse
  • ICU / emergency nurse
  • Oncology nurse
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Psychiatric/mental health nurse
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist

In the long term, some nurses want to move away from the hustle and bustle of clinics and work in a more administrative or managerial position. There are many titles available to degree-holding nurses that enable this, and nurses who have held the RN certification can qualify as a:

  • Informatics nurse
  • Nurse educator
  • Nurse administrator
  • Public health nurse

All of these titles require extensive clinical practice and additional education.

How long does it take to bridge from LPN to RN?

The length of time it takes to pass an LPN to RN bridge program will depend on the institution you study with and the education you already have.

Many bridge programs offer students the option of earning credits in general education courses without having to duplicate those courses. This means you can complete the academic but non-nursing-related elements of the course more quickly via coursework, credit transfer, or evaluation.

You’ll still have to study the nursing-specific aspects of the degree, but you’ll save a lot of time by not having to duplicate courses.

When it comes to the nursing-focused parts of the course, you can’t cut corners. Accredited online LPN to RN courses are recognized by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and follow standards set out by important nursing bodies such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. When you complete your course, you’ll be ready to take the NCLEX-RN exam and deliver care to patients just like a nurse who studied for a traditional degree.

This means you’ll need to study those courses carefully and diligently. Some nurses take their time over their online study and take four years to complete their online degree part-time while working.

Others, especially those who have a science background, are able to complete intensive modules as part of an accelerated degree and can earn the qualification more quickly. It all depends on your experience and how much time you’re willing to devote to your studies.

Requirements of online LPN to RN bridge programs

Entry requirements for online LPN to RN programs are offered by many different institutions, and the entry requirements vary significantly depending on whether the program is offering an associate’s degree or an undergraduate degree, and which institution runs it.

In general, however, the admission process for an LPN to RN nursing program would look like this:

  1. To join the program, you’ll need a valid LPN license.
  2. Applicants should submit their college transcripts to the online university.
  3. An applicant who has zero prior college credits may be asked to complete a placement exam. This will help the college decide which developmental courses the student must complete.
  4. Students with a prior college education may be asked to complete pre-requisite courses they were missing, or if their prior education was more than ten years ago.

Individual institutions set their own requirements, but the Allegany College of Maryland‘s requirements are fairly representative of those seen in LPN to RN bridge programs.

This institution requires students to have a college GPA of 2.50 for the pre-requisite classes. If a student has missing general education courses, they must be completed before the student starts studying any nursing courses.

The Allegany College of Maryland sets the following pre-requisites:

  • English 101
  • Psychology 101
  • Sociology 101
  • Psychology 203 (Human Grown and Development)
  • Either Math 102 (College Algebra) or Math 109 (Probability and Statistics)
  • 6 credits or 2 electives from the humanities
  • Bio 204 (Microbiology)
  • Bio 207 (Anatomy and Physiology 1)
  • Bio 208 (Anatomy and Physiology 2)

Students who are missing these courses may still apply but must complete them before starting the course.

Other requirements include:

  • Students for whom English is their second language may be asked to provide TOEFL scores to demonstrate proficiency.
  • Drug screening is required for those taking clinical nursing courses.
  • Students may be asked to pass a federal background check.

How can you check that an online LPN to RN program is accredited?

One of the challenges of studying online courses is that it can be hard to be sure the course you’re studying is legitimate. There are so many copycat qualifications out there, and all too often students don’t realize they’ve wasted time and money until they complete their course and find out that employers won’t accept it.

You can avoid frustration and heartache by verifying any claims of accreditation before you start your studies. Check the website of the institution you’re planning to study with to see if it lists accreditations.

For nursing, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education is the primary body that accredits qualifications. You can confirm whether your institution is accredited by the CCNE by checking their accredited nursing program directory. This allows you to search for programs by state or by institution.

How does an LPN to RN bridge program work?

LPN to RN bridge programs are offered in two forms. The LPN to ADN programs usually take two years of study and contain about 72 credit hours of learning material.

LPN to BSN programs cover 120 hours of credit, spread over four or five years of part-time study. Both courses require the student to complete the NCLEX-RN after graduation so they can call themselves a registered nurse.

While these courses are classed as being online, they will require some practical experience. Most LPNs are already working in care homes, clinics or hospital settings so will have the opportunity to get that practical experience through their work.

The LPN to RN curriculum will build on the practical nurse’s current understanding of professional nursing practice, and equip them with the tools they need to work as a registered nurse.

Courses cover subjects such as:

Human anatomy and physiology

This is usually a coursework-focused program covering the muscular, skeletal, circulatory, and nervous systems. Nurses are required to have a foundational understanding of anatomy and physiology so they can serve their patients.

Principles of pharmacology

Advanced Practice nurses are able to prescribe medications in some states. Registered nurses cannot do this, but are still expected to have an understanding of medication side-effects, pharmacological classifications, the use of medications, and the responsibilities a nurse has when administering them.

Fundamentals of nursing

The LPN to RN program advises nurses on the key skills required of a registered nurse and gives them a framework for approaching patient care, including issues such as personal hygiene, wound care, mobility, and IV administration.

Trends in nursing

The role played by nurses is becoming increasingly complex and important in the medical sector. Registered nurses are expected to understand the legal, ethical and cultural issues that underpin the profession, and have the skills to analyze the issues that are faced by the modern-day nurse.

Adult nursing and assessment

Registered nurses deal with patients at all stages of their lives. This course gives would-be nurses the skills they need to work with patients who have chronic health-care needs. Students are taught various physical examination techniques, how to use diagnostic instruments, and how to cope with the physiological and psychosocial needs of adult patients.

Medical-surgical nursing

Clinical judgment skills are important for nurses, as those at the registered nurse level are expected to have some decision-making abilities. Students are taught how to provide rehabilitative, therapeutic, and preventative care skills, and how to provide care that takes into account the religious, cultural and emotional beliefs of the patient.

Clinical nursing hours for LPN-to-RN students

The clinical training or practicum element of the LPN to RN program is very important. These supervised practice hours are the chance for nurses to gain the skills and competencies they’ll need to practice independently.

Each school has the ability to set its own requirements and allows people to practice in different healthcare settings, although the way these arrangements are made might vary.

Usually, students will have the chance to earn clinical practice time in sessions of 8-12 hours, conducted in an emergency room, a rehabilitation facility, or a critical care unit.

Students have the chance to gain experience in areas such as:

  • Mental health
  • Pediatric care
  • Medical-surgical nursing
  • Gerontology
  • Community health
  • Acute care

While some nurses do have a clear idea of what they want to specialize in when they graduate, many nurses haven’t picked a specialization yet, and having this chance to see what day-to-day work is like in different settings can be invaluable.

How to choose an online nursing bridge program

The most important thing to consider when you’re choosing an online nursing bridge program is whether the program is accredited. Only programs that are accredited are worth studying since other courses won’t actually earn you the right to take the NCLEX-RN.

Beyond accreditation, however, there are some other important factors to consider when you’re trying to decide which online nursing bridge program to study:

  • How much does the program cost?
  • Is it a BSN program or an ADN program?
  • What is the pass rate for the NCLEX-RN?
  • Am I required to take the NCLEX-RN in a specific state?
  • Does the program have links with hospitals in my area?
  • Does the program include optional modules that interest me?
  • How long will the program take?
  • Is there funding available to take this program?
  • How is the program delivered?

Studying for a BSN degree online will take longer, and most likely cost more, than studying for the ADN, so you can’t always compare online nursing programs based on cost alone.

If you’re self-funding and worried about the cost, studying an ADN will allow you to take the NCLEX-RN more quickly, opening up promotion opportunities. You can still take a top-up course to complete the bachelor’s degree at a later date.

There’s a lot of financial aid available for people who would like to pursue a career in nursing, and online programs are eligible for many of those grants and scholarships, so it’s worth doing some research and applying for scholarships in your area.

Many online universities have links to a brick-and-mortar university, and they may expect students to take their NCLEX-RN in that state. This is something you should check before signing up for a program because nursing licenses are not always fully interchangeable.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing has created a multi-state license that allows nurses who are licensed in one state, such as Colorado, to practice in other states that are a part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), such as Idaho.  At the time of writing, there are more states that either have joined or are in the process of joining, the eNLC than there are outside of it. However, if you want to practice in a specific state you’ll need to make sure your license is valid for that state.

The good news is that once you’ve passed an accredited nursing degree you can take the NCLEX-RN and apply for a license in any state, so even if your license is not portable to the state in which you’d like to practice, the process of transferring it should not be too onerous.

What should you avoid in an online nursing bridge program?

The academic requirements placed on registered nurses are very high, so it’s important to look for a course that makes it easy to learn. Studying a new subject online, especially an academically rigorous one, can be difficult for even the most motivated of learners.

So, when you’re choosing a course, make sure to research it carefully and pay attention to how the material is delivered. You’ll have a much easier time with your studies if you choose a course that is delivered in a rich and engaging way.

The best courses offer:

  • Video lectures
  • Real-time discussions
  • Online learning systems such as Canvas, Moodle, or Blackboard
  • Quizzes
  • Clinical logging tools
  • Discussion boards
  • Simulations
  • Traditional reading
  • Access to academic databases
  • Virtual laboratories
  • Opportunities for clinical experience in the local area

These tools make it easy for a nurse to learn the skills they need.

Top online LPN to RN programs

Online LPN to RN programs are offered by many different universities. Some of the most popular programs include:

  • Indiana State University (Terre Haute, IN)
  • University of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, OK)
  • North Dakota State University (Fargo, ND)

Indiana State University

This university offers an LPN-to-BSN program that is entirely based on distance learning. It takes 2-3 years to complete and is open to students who have an LPN or LVN license and a 2.75GPA including all nursing prerequisites.

This is one of the few LPN to BSN courses that can be completed entirely remotely, making it a popular option for students who do not wish to travel.

University of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma offers nursing programs at all levels, from the BSN through to master’s and doctoral level qualifications. It runs an LPN to BSN online program, but unlike Indiana State University this program is delivered in a hybrid format and requires students to attend classes in person once a month. Clinical practice hours must be complete in-state, too.

Students wishing to enter the program must have 1,000 hours of experience as an LPN. Tuition is $137.60 per credit hour for students living in Oklahoma but costs $563.40 for those who are out-of-state.

North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University’s online LPN to BSN track is a 120 credit course that is primarily online but does include some summer schooling on campus. The course covers 122 credits, and most students complete 6 to 9 credits per semester.

The entry requirements for this course are a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 and a GPA of 3.0 or better in nursing courses. Students are expected to have a diploma in nursing and at least 60 hours of college credits.

What do the top online LPN to RN programs have in common?

These courses are all delivered by respected universities that offer other nursing programs too. They have high pass-rates for the NCLEX-RN, and give students the chance to complete their clinical practice hours at an institution close to home.

Entry into the best programs is competitive, requiring a good GPA and, in some cases, an entrance exam. The National League for Nursing’s pre-admission exam (PAX-RN) is often used to vet course applicants.

If you’re an LPN and you want to upgrade your qualifications to continue your career in nursing, you should revise the nursing material you studied in college and prepare your transcript so you have the best chances of success.

If you didn’t get great grades in college, you can still get on a bridge course, but you may need to re-take some of the general education courses that you got lower grades on first.

LPN stands for Licensed Practical Nurse. This is an entry-level nursing title. LPNs usually deliver practical care, performing day-to-day tasks to support patients and help them stay comfortable. LPNs may measure vitals, take samples, change dressings, and offer other hands-on support in a hospital or clinical setting.

The scope of practice of an LPN is more limited than that of a registered nurse, or RN. Earning an LPN certification takes less time than qualifying as an RN since LPNs can take their licensing exam after completing a one-to-two year-long program of study and taking the NCLEX-PN examination.

Many people who are considering nursing as a career opt to qualify as a practical nurse first because it’s possible to complete an accelerated LPN program quite quickly. Their goal is to get some clinical experience and see whether they enjoy the profession before going on to enroll in a BSN program.

To qualify as a registered nurse, a person must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing and pass the NCLEX-RN nursing certification exam. This unlocks a wider range of nursing opportunities, including the choice of specializations and advanced nursing jobs.

Some nurses enroll in an associate’s degree program or even a BSN program straight out of high school, while others earn an associate’s degree, get some experience working as an LPN, and then pursue an RN bridge program to upgrade their qualifications.

Both of these routes into the nursing profession have advantages and disadvantages. Here, we look at options for topping up an associate nursing degree to become a licensed registered nurse and discuss why it’s worth considering this route, and the career opportunities it opens for would-be lifelong nurses.

Advantages of online LPN to RN programs

If you’re interested in becoming an RN, you’ll need to complete a program of undergraduate study at either associate degree or bachelor’s degree level and pass the NCLEX-RN.

While it’s possible to become an RN with just an associate degree, some states require Registered Nurses to earn the BSN within a set period of time after licensure. New York State was the first to introduce this requirement, called the BSN in Ten, but other states are following suit because research shows that BSN-prepared nurses deliver a higher standard of care and better patient outcomes than RNs who are educated to only the associate’s degree level.

LPNs who have decided they’d like to stay in the field of nursing long-term should consider upgrading their qualifications to the BSN at some point since this will make it easier for them to become advanced practice nurses later on, and open up many other career opportunities.

What are the advantages of an online LPN to RN program?

Many nurses opt to take an online LPN to RN program, because of the convenience of studying in this way. A licensed practical nurse is most likely already employed at a hospital or clinic, and, after having spent time completing an LPN program may not want to go back into the world of academia full-time.

Studying an RN program online means they can continue to work and gain some clinical experience that will help them further their nursing career. Most LPN-to-RN programs are ADN programs, meaning at the end the nurse will have studied everything that’s in a typical undergraduate nursing degree.

One advantage of taking an RN bridge program is that it’s usually faster to study a bridge program than to enroll on a full BSN. There are many top-up programs that allow nurses with the RN title to upgrade their diploma to a bachelor’s degree. In addition, online programs are often more affordable than programs offered at a traditional institution.

If you opt to study for your nursing degree online while you keep your job in a clinic or hospital, you’ll be able to earn while you learn and build up some nursing experience, which will stand you in good stead should you choose to pursue a master’s degree or a doctoral program in nursing later and earn a specialization.

The earning potential differences and career options available to people who have qualified as an RN are massively different to those open to an LPN (or an LVN as they are called in some states):

The above salaries are median salaries as published by the Bureau of labor statistics and include registered nurses with an ADN or a BSN, but don’t include nurses who have pursued a specialization at master’s degree level or higher.

Taking the time to upgrade your education from a postsecondary certificate to a degree and then earning the RN license gives you higher earning potential and the chance to unlock interesting new career options.

What are your career options if you opt for an LPN to RN program online?

Registered nurses have more autonomy and a wider scope of practice than LPNs, as well as the option to pursue a wider range of specializations. Some nurses who are qualified as RNs opt to do work that is quite similar to that performed by LPNs.

For example, they may work in a small clinic, interviewing patients, collecting samples and administering vaccinations, or work on a ward delivering hands-on patient care under the supervision of an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).

Those nurses often feel it’s worth pursuing a higher level qualification because:

  • This allows them more autonomy in their work
  • There are some tasks, such as performing diagnostics and interpreting results, LPNs can’t do
  • The higher standard of training means they can deliver better patient care
  • They’re able to work different shifts due to needing less supervision
  • RNs can usually expect higher salaries than LPNs

Nursing is a broad and interesting field, however, and not all nurses deliver the kind of general nursing care that you’re used to seeing on TV. Many nurses pursue specialist qualifications and focus on specific areas of nursing, earning titles such as:

  • Pediatric nurse
  • ICU / emergency nurse
  • Oncology nurse
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Psychiatric/mental health nurse
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist

In the long term, some nurses want to move away from the hustle and bustle of clinics and work in a more administrative or managerial position. There are many titles available to degree-holding nurses that enable this, and nurses who have held the RN certification can qualify as a:

  • Informatics nurse
  • Nurse educator
  • Nurse administrator
  • Public health nurse

All of these titles require extensive clinical practice and additional education.

How long does it take to bridge from LPN to RN?

The length of time it takes to pass an LPN to RN bridge program will depend on the institution you study with and the education you already have.

Many bridge programs offer students the option of earning credits in general education courses without having to duplicate those courses. This means you can complete the academic but non-nursing-related elements of the course more quickly via coursework, credit transfer, or evaluation.

You’ll still have to study the nursing-specific aspects of the degree, but you’ll save a lot of time by not having to duplicate courses.

When it comes to the nursing-focused parts of the course, you can’t cut corners. Accredited online LPN to RN courses are recognized by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and follow standards set out by important nursing bodies such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. When you complete your course, you’ll be ready to take the NCLEX-RN exam and deliver care to patients just like a nurse who studied for a traditional degree.

This means you’ll need to study those courses carefully and diligently. Some nurses take their time over their online study and take four years to complete their online degree part-time while working.

Others, especially those who have a science background, are able to complete intensive modules as part of an accelerated degree and can earn the qualification more quickly. It all depends on your experience and how much time you’re willing to devote to your studies.

Requirements of online LPN to RN bridge programs

Entry requirements for online LPN to RN programs are offered by many different institutions, and the entry requirements vary significantly depending on whether the program is offering an associate’s degree or an undergraduate degree, and which institution runs it.

In general, however, the admission process for an LPN to RN nursing program would look like this:

  1. To join the program, you’ll need a valid LPN license.
  2. Applicants should submit their college transcripts to the online university.
  3. An applicant who has zero prior college credits may be asked to complete a placement exam. This will help the college decide which developmental courses the student must complete.
  4. Students with a prior college education may be asked to complete pre-requisite courses they were missing, or if their prior education was more than ten years ago.

Individual institutions set their own requirements, but the Allegany College of Maryland‘s requirements are fairly representative of those seen in LPN to RN bridge programs.

This institution requires students to have a college GPA of 2.50 for the pre-requisite classes. If a student has missing general education courses, they must be completed before the student starts studying any nursing courses.

The Allegany College of Maryland sets the following pre-requisites:

  • English 101
  • Psychology 101
  • Sociology 101
  • Psychology 203 (Human Grown and Development)
  • Either Math 102 (College Algebra) or Math 109 (Probability and Statistics)
  • 6 credits or 2 electives from the humanities
  • Bio 204 (Microbiology)
  • Bio 207 (Anatomy and Physiology 1)
  • Bio 208 (Anatomy and Physiology 2)

Students who are missing these courses may still apply but must complete them before starting the course.

Other requirements include:

  • Students for whom English is their second language may be asked to provide TOEFL scores to demonstrate proficiency.
  • Drug screening is required for those taking clinical nursing courses.
  • Students may be asked to pass a federal background check.

How can you check that an online LPN to RN program is accredited?

One of the challenges of studying online courses is that it can be hard to be sure the course you’re studying is legitimate. There are so many copycat qualifications out there, and all too often students don’t realize they’ve wasted time and money until they complete their course and find out that employers won’t accept it.

You can avoid frustration and heartache by verifying any claims of accreditation before you start your studies. Check the website of the institution you’re planning to study with to see if it lists accreditations.

For nursing, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education is the primary body that accredits qualifications. You can confirm whether your institution is accredited by the CCNE by checking their accredited nursing program directory. This allows you to search for programs by state or by institution.

How does an LPN to RN bridge program work?

LPN to RN bridge programs are offered in two forms. The LPN to ADN programs usually take two years of study and contain about 72 credit hours of learning material.

LPN to BSN programs cover 120 hours of credit, spread over four or five years of part-time study. Both courses require the student to complete the NCLEX-RN after graduation so they can call themselves a registered nurse.

While these courses are classed as being online, they will require some practical experience. Most LPNs are already working in care homes, clinics or hospital settings so will have the opportunity to get that practical experience through their work.

The LPN to RN curriculum will build on the practical nurse’s current understanding of professional nursing practice, and equip them with the tools they need to work as a registered nurse.

Courses cover subjects such as:

Human anatomy and physiology

This is usually a coursework-focused program covering the muscular, skeletal, circulatory, and nervous systems. Nurses are required to have a foundational understanding of anatomy and physiology so they can serve their patients.

Principles of pharmacology

Advanced Practice nurses are able to prescribe medications in some states. Registered nurses cannot do this, but are still expected to have an understanding of medication side-effects, pharmacological classifications, the use of medications, and the responsibilities a nurse has when administering them.

Fundamentals of nursing

The LPN to RN program advises nurses on the key skills required of a registered nurse and gives them a framework for approaching patient care, including issues such as personal hygiene, wound care, mobility, and IV administration.

Trends in nursing

The role played by nurses is becoming increasingly complex and important in the medical sector. Registered nurses are expected to understand the legal, ethical and cultural issues that underpin the profession, and have the skills to analyze the issues that are faced by the modern-day nurse.

Adult nursing and assessment

Registered nurses deal with patients at all stages of their lives. This course gives would-be nurses the skills they need to work with patients who have chronic health-care needs. Students are taught various physical examination techniques, how to use diagnostic instruments, and how to cope with the physiological and psychosocial needs of adult patients.

Medical-surgical nursing

Clinical judgment skills are important for nurses, as those at the registered nurse level are expected to have some decision-making abilities. Students are taught how to provide rehabilitative, therapeutic, and preventative care skills, and how to provide care that takes into account the religious, cultural and emotional beliefs of the patient.

Clinical nursing hours for LPN-to-RN students

The clinical training or practicum element of the LPN to RN program is very important. These supervised practice hours are the chance for nurses to gain the skills and competencies they’ll need to practice independently.

Each school has the ability to set its own requirements and allows people to practice in different healthcare settings, although the way these arrangements are made might vary.

Usually, students will have the chance to earn clinical practice time in sessions of 8-12 hours, conducted in an emergency room, a rehabilitation facility, or a critical care unit.

Students have the chance to gain experience in areas such as:

  • Mental health
  • Pediatric care
  • Medical-surgical nursing
  • Gerontology
  • Community health
  • Acute care

While some nurses do have a clear idea of what they want to specialize in when they graduate, many nurses haven’t picked a specialization yet, and having this chance to see what day-to-day work is like in different settings can be invaluable.

How to choose an online nursing bridge program

The most important thing to consider when you’re choosing an online nursing bridge program is whether the program is accredited. Only programs that are accredited are worth studying since other courses won’t actually earn you the right to take the NCLEX-RN.

Beyond accreditation, however, there are some other important factors to consider when you’re trying to decide which online nursing bridge program to study:

  • How much does the program cost?
  • Is it a BSN program or an ADN program?
  • What is the pass rate for the NCLEX-RN?
  • Am I required to take the NCLEX-RN in a specific state?
  • Does the program have links with hospitals in my area?
  • Does the program include optional modules that interest me?
  • How long will the program take?
  • Is there funding available to take this program?
  • How is the program delivered?

Studying for a BSN degree online will take longer, and most likely cost more, than studying for the ADN, so you can’t always compare online nursing programs based on cost alone.

If you’re self-funding and worried about the cost, studying an ADN will allow you to take the NCLEX-RN more quickly, opening up promotion opportunities. You can still take a top-up course to complete the bachelor’s degree at a later date.

There’s a lot of financial aid available for people who would like to pursue a career in nursing, and online programs are eligible for many of those grants and scholarships, so it’s worth doing some research and applying for scholarships in your area.

Many online universities have links to a brick-and-mortar university, and they may expect students to take their NCLEX-RN in that state. This is something you should check before signing up for a program because nursing licenses are not always fully interchangeable.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing has created a multi-state license that allows nurses who are licensed in one state, such as Colorado, to practice in other states that are a part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), such as Idaho.  At the time of writing, there are more states that either have joined or are in the process of joining, the eNLC than there are outside of it. However, if you want to practice in a specific state you’ll need to make sure your license is valid for that state.

The good news is that once you’ve passed an accredited nursing degree you can take the NCLEX-RN and apply for a license in any state, so even if your license is not portable to the state in which you’d like to practice, the process of transferring it should not be too onerous.

What should you avoid in an online nursing bridge program?

The academic requirements placed on registered nurses are very high, so it’s important to look for a course that makes it easy to learn. Studying a new subject online, especially an academically rigorous one, can be difficult for even the most motivated of learners.

So, when you’re choosing a course, make sure to research it carefully and pay attention to how the material is delivered. You’ll have a much easier time with your studies if you choose a course that is delivered in a rich and engaging way.

The best courses offer:

  • Video lectures
  • Real-time discussions
  • Online learning systems such as Canvas, Moodle, or Blackboard
  • Quizzes
  • Clinical logging tools
  • Discussion boards
  • Simulations
  • Traditional reading
  • Access to academic databases
  • Virtual laboratories
  • Opportunities for clinical experience in the local area

These tools make it easy for a nurse to learn the skills they need.

Top online LPN to RN programs

Online LPN to RN programs are offered by many different universities. Some of the most popular programs include:

  • Indiana State University (Terre Haute, IN)
  • University of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, OK)
  • North Dakota State University (Fargo, ND)

Indiana State University

This university offers an LPN-to-BSN program that is entirely based on distance learning. It takes 2-3 years to complete and is open to students who have an LPN or LVN license and a 2.75GPA including all nursing prerequisites.

This is one of the few LPN to BSN courses that can be completed entirely remotely, making it a popular option for students who do not wish to travel.

University of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma offers nursing programs at all levels, from the BSN through to master’s and doctoral level qualifications. It runs an LPN to BSN online program, but unlike Indiana State University this program is delivered in a hybrid format and requires students to attend classes in person once a month. Clinical practice hours must be complete in-state, too.

Students wishing to enter the program must have 1,000 hours of experience as an LPN. Tuition is $137.60 per credit hour for students living in Oklahoma but costs $563.40 for those who are out-of-state.

North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University’s online LPN to BSN track is a 120 credit course that is primarily online but does include some summer schooling on campus. The course covers 122 credits, and most students complete 6 to 9 credits per semester.

The entry requirements for this course are a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 and a GPA of 3.0 or better in nursing courses. Students are expected to have a diploma in nursing and at least 60 hours of college credits.

What do the top online LPN to RN programs have in common?

These courses are all delivered by respected universities that offer other nursing programs too. They have high pass-rates for the NCLEX-RN, and give students the chance to complete their clinical practice hours at an institution close to home.

Entry into the best programs is competitive, requiring a good GPA and, in some cases, an entrance exam. The National League for Nursing’s pre-admission exam (PAX-RN) is often used to vet course applicants.

If you’re an LPN and you want to upgrade your qualifications to continue your career in nursing, you should revise the nursing material you studied in college and prepare your transcript so you have the best chances of success.

If you didn’t get great grades in college, you can still get on a bridge course, but you may need to re-take some of the general education courses that you got lower grades on first.

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