LPN To BSN Programs
For those who want to make a career out of helping others, becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) can open doors to many employment opportunities in health care. LPNs who choose to earn the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree through LPN to BSN programs might be given more responsibility in their profession, as well as the opportunity to enjoy better options for employment, promotions and higher pay.
Employment for licensed practical nurses looks promising in coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 22 percent growth in practical nursing jobs from 2010 to 2020, due to an aging population and the increasing popularity of outpatient care centers (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). The median annual wage for LPNs nationally was $42,040 in 2011, or $20.21 per hour (bls.gov/oes, 2012).
Those who choose to earn their bachelor's degree might even enjoy higher pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that higher education attainment is linked to higher pay and lower unemployment rates (bls.gov/emp, 2013).
About the LPN to BSN program
Though earning LPN certification can teach students the skills and knowledge necessary to provide patient care, those who earn the bachelor's degree in nursing can go in-depth with the subjects that matter most to those in the nursing profession. LPN to BSN programs are taught in both brick-and-mortar institutions as well as through online schools. Students who enroll in the LPN to BSN program take a variety of courses that include both general education requirements and nursing courses, such as psychology, anatomy and physiology, nutrition, microbiology, pharmacology, health assessments, gerontology, pediatric care, mental health, leadership and more (nmu.edu, 2012).
While earning the typical bachelor's degree can take four to five years, students in LPN to BSN programs can sometimes enroll in fast-track full-time study to finish the degree in as little as nine months (nursing.ouhsc.edu). Some schools might offer LPNs credit for work already completed in pursuing their LPN certification (nmu.edu, 2012). Part-time programs are also available and might take longer to complete, but can be a popular option for those who want to continue working full-time while pursuing their degree.
Those who apply for LPN to BSN programs must meet certain eligibility requirements. Though these can vary from one school to another, basic expectations include transcripts that indicate a minimum GPA, completion of basic science courses (often completed during the pursuit of the LPN), pre-entry testing and a valid license to practice nursing (tnstate.edu, 2012; nmu.edu, 2012).
Some programs might have other requirements, such as criminal background checks or consistent grades throughout the course of study. Since each program varies in admission requirements, speaking to an admissions counselor before application is recommended.
Career opportunities for LPN bachelor's degree holders
Though earning the LPN might foster employment opportunities in health care, some employers prefer to hire those who hold a degree from an accredited institution. In addition to offering a possible edge at hiring time, LPN to BSN program completion could also make nurses eligible for higher pay, promotions and positions that might not have been possible without the bachelor's degree.
Graduates of LPN to BSN programs might find work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, outpatient care centers, nursing homes, health departments, schools, civil services and several different industries. In 2010, 29 percent of licensed practical nurses worked in nursing care facilities, 15 percent in general medical and surgical hospitals, and 12 percent in offices of physicians. Three-quarters of LPNs worked full-time in 2010 (bls.gov/ooh, 2012).
Those who pursue the LPN to BSN program can take their education further with certifications. These certifications can provide students with in-depth knowledge in a particular subject or skill. Certain certifications can also make an applicant more attractive at hiring time. For instance, a nurse who is certified in IV therapy might be seen favorably when applying for a position with a chemotherapy clinic.
Certifications are available through nursing organizations, employers, hospitals, community colleges and more. Certification in long-term care, pharmacology, and IV therapy are just a few examples of the many options available to nurses who complete certifications to enhance their knowledge and career options (napnes.org).
A final word on the LPN to BSN program
Licensed practical nurses who choose to earn their bachelor's degree in nursing might enjoy a wider range of employment options and could even see a boost in pay. Required courses can often be taken in less time than necessary to complete a traditional bachelor's degree, and depending upon the program, full-time students might be able to earn the BSN in less than one year. For nurses who want to take the next step in their education and earn a career boost, LPN to BSN programs can be a good move toward making that happen.
"Certifications," National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service, Inc., 2009
"Degree Admission Requirements," Tennessee State University Division of Nursing, 2012
"Education Pays…," Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013
"Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012
"Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-2013 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics
"LPN to BSN Program (Nursing Major)," Northern Michigan University, 2012
"Undergraduate: LPN to BSN," The University of Oklahoma College of Nursing, 2011