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Considering a Career as a Registered Nurse

Whether you have already earned your Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN/LVN) degree or are just getting started, deciding to become a registered nurse (RN) is an excellent choice that will improve your life.

LPN/LVN programs are considered the first year of nursing school, and graduates are already halfway through the RN degree. A Bridge program enables the completion of this program, whether it be an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree program, in a seamless manner.

Bridge programs include LPN/LVN to RN Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs and, less frequently, LPN/LVN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs. Numerous programs are designed for working professionals or older persons returning to school, as opposed to the standard undergraduate university setting, which is designed for full-time, degree-seeking students.

LPN/ LVN’s:

Are restricted to employment with specific establishments that employ LPN/LVNs
Earn less than registered nurses
Work directly under the supervision of a registered nurse
Have less autonomy than a registered nurse
Are restricted in their field of practice in comparison to the RN job

RN’s:

Hospitals may hire individuals with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) who agree to complete a bachelor’s degree within a specific time period.
Earn more than LPNs/LVNs
Possess a greater area of practice than an LPN/LVN
Supervisory and leadership positions are possible.
Receive more critical thinking training in comparison to the LPN/LVN

Learn more about the differences between RN and LPN roles and BSN RN roles.

How to Locate a Registered Nursing Program

Bridge Programs for LPNs and LVNs

Numerous Bridge Programs, which connect LPN/LVNs to RNs or BSNs, are oriented toward working LPN/LVNs and accommodate students with demanding work and home lives. Notably, certain colleges may also offer CNA Bridge programs. Evening and part-time classes are frequently offered, and many schools incorporate online courses into their curriculums.

As an incentive for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and LPN/LVNs to continue their nursing education, several facilities offer education reimbursement for RN school and a new graduate RN position upon graduation of the LPN/LVN. A New Graduate RN position is typically assured upon completion of the RN program.

In addition to classroom hours, each state requires clinical hours to be performed in-person. Each program will require a certain number of clinical hours. Certain programs impose requirements that exceed state mandates.

The LPN/LVN program is equivalent to the first year of nursing school. While the prospective school to which the applicant applies will evaluate transcripts, the majority of schools will accept the prerequisites required by the LPN/LVN program and completion of the program as satisfying the qualifications for the RN program. This is presuming the applicant finished a recognized LPN/LVN program and passed the NCLEX-PN test.

Nursing school’s second year is referred to as the Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. Due to their short wait lists, fast-track course options, and flexible timetables, these Bridge Programs are highly popular. This author finished a 9-month nighttime LVN/LPN to RN program in Colorado without having to wait. The school was accredited, and transferring credits years later to earn an online BSN degree was effortless.

The following are the major areas of study for the LPN/LVN to ADN program:

  • Physiology and Anatomy
  • Pharmacology
  • Holistic Healthcare Advanced nursing studies in the following systems: neurologic, pulmonary, genitourinary, hepatobiliary, gastric, and immunologic.
    Preceptorship/CapStone

Nursing school’s third and fourth years are included in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN). While not every hospital requires a BSN degree to begin employment as an RN, many bigger facilities do.

This degree program offers two distinct tracks. There are two tracks available: LPN/LVN to BSN and ADN to BSN.

Numerous LPN/LVNs elect to complete the LPN/LVN to ADN program, work as an RN, and then enroll in the ADN to BSN program. This allows for increased earnings and clinical experience as an RN while pursuing the BSN degree. Numerous hospitals will hire ADNs with the understanding that they will get their BSN within a few years of employment. It’s prudent to choose this method because the majority of facilities will assist with the cost of BSN classes.

While there are fewer LPN/LVN to BSN programs available, pursuing this degree directly is certainly viable, and if the program is comparable in cost and duration to the ADN, it may make more sense.

While all ADN programs require students to complete state-mandated on-site clinical hours in order to sit for the NCLEX-RN, BSN schools do not. As a result, several BSN programs are entirely online.

The ADN to BSN program’s major areas of study include the following:

  • Community healthcare
  • Leadership roles
  • Clinical trials and research
  • Statistics
  •  Ethics and Law

Nursing Associate’s Degree (ADN) Programs

Earning an ADN without prior nursing education and without being a CNA or LPN/LVN is an excellent alternative to enrolling in a BSN program.

The ADN program’s major areas of study include the following:

  • Physiology and Anatomy
  • Nursing care for patients who are mental, medical/surgical, or geriatric
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Requires clinical hours on-site

ADN programs are available through community colleges and private nursing schools. This avoids the expensive expense, lengthy wait list, and lengthier program duration associated with universities that provide the BSN degree. Numerous facilities will employ ADNs.

Locate Registered Nurse Programs in Your State

Each state may have its own standards for registering as a nurse. To learn more about your state’s specific criteria, click on your state.

How Do I Select a Quality RN/BSN Program?

“Pass rate” for the NCLEX-RN exam- Each state needs graduates of ADN or BSN schools to pass the NCLEX-RN exam in order to be deemed a registered nurse and employable. Each state keeps track of schools’ NCLEX-RN “pass rate.” This is the number of students from each school that have passed the NCLEX-RN exam. It enables prospective students to determine how well each school prepares them for the NCLEX-RN exam. This is public information that is easily accessible.

The majority of schools with satisfactory “pass rates” will brag about their accomplishments and promote them in their brochure or on their school website. Bear in mind that a school with a 100% “success record,” for example, most likely has extremely high requirements and will not accept students who they fear will fail the NCLEX-RN! This could result in stringent restrictions and exceptionally high grade point average requirements.

Accreditation of Nursing Schools – RN schools are required to be accredited by national authorities; otherwise, their students will be unable to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam or transfer their credits to other universities. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission are the two primary agencies (NLNAC). It’s prudent to verify eligibility requirements for any programs one may explore in the future before beginning a new one.

System for Managing Learning

Is the school willing to provide additional tutoring if necessary? Are you a better distance or classroom learner, and does your school encourage your preferred method of instruction? Identifying your preferred learning style is critical at this point of collegiate study, as is locating a school that can assist you in growing as a nurse.

Cost

Financial aid is frequently provided for nursing degrees, which are frequently expensive. Depending on the institution, payment options may also be available. Certain scholarships, grants, and employer tuition reimbursement programs may be available to assist with the cost of RN education.

 

Location

Driving distance is an important factor to consider when choosing a program, especially when juggling work, school, and family life. The closer you are to your workplace or home, the better!

Acceptance of Transcripts

Transcripts from a recognized LPN/LVN program should be accepted wherever. If this is not the case, many RN schools will accept some courses but may need others.

Intuition

Take a tour of the school and, if feasible, speak with people in charge. Do you believe it is a place you would frequent and that you can learn effectively? A good school should be welcoming while yet being demanding and, most importantly, supportive of its students’ needs.

Reputation

Conduct an online search for the school, including social media sites and review sites. What are the opinions of other students? Bear in mind that bad evaluations typically exceed positive reviews, so if a school has a small number of reviews, it may be an excellent school even if no positive ratings are recorded. Additionally, a rigorous program is certain to ruffle a few feathers, but it will shape the student into an incredible nurse!

Entrance Examinations

Many traditional nursing schools require prospective students to pass the TEAS exam. Assume that this is something you have planned for, as it is not a trivial task.

Obtaining Funds for RN School

As the adage goes, nothing important is either easy or inexpensive!

Typically, RN school is quite expensive. Consider the expense in relation to the possible earnings throughout the first year of nursing. Depending on the state, RNs can make more than the cost of tuition within their first year of nursing, and the earning potential increases exponentially with experience.

Cash

Paying in cash is ideal; if you do, the school may be able to lower the price or offer a no-interest pay-over-time alternative.

Loans

The majority of students will require student loans. This can be accomplished by completing an FAFSA form and speaking with the financial assistance staff at the institution.

Scholarships

These are awarded on the basis of merit or need. There are countless websites that contain information and applications for various scholarships. Although there are typically only a limited number of money available to award students, it is well worth the time and effort to apply if you are fortunate enough to be a beneficiary.

Grants

The federal government offers some funds to nurses who agree to work at high-demand hospitals, typically in low-income areas, or at Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities for a specified period of time. Check out the Financial Aid area of the AACN website.

Programs of Work/Study

Certain schools provide discounted tuition to students who work at the school. The school can provide additional information on this type of program.

Courses Required for Entry into the Nursing Profession

Most schools will accept the LPN/LVN transcript as proof of completion of the first year of nursing studies and necessary curriculum for the LPN/LVN Bridge programs. If the LPN/LVN school is not fully accredited or is an overseas institution, additional complications may arise, but this normally does not preclude the student from transferring credits. An adviser will check transcripts and discuss any issues with the prospective RN student.

Prerequisites for ADN/BSN programs that do not include LPN/LVN vary by program, but often include a high school diploma or GED and the following:

  • Physiology and Anatomy
  • Mathematics Fundamentals
  •  Basic English
  • Chemistry
  •  Biology
  • Microbiology

A minimum GPA of 2.0 is often required for admission, however many colleges are extremely competitive, and a higher GPA is preferable.

Requirements for Admission as a Registered Nurse

Entrance requirements vary by school but typically include RN Prerequisite Courses, a high school diploma or GED with a minimum GPA of 2.0, proof of citizenship, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for English as a Second Language students, and a criminal background check. Some schools also require a basic English and math exam prior to acceptance.

The Application Process for Nursing Schools

Once due diligence has been completed and the prospective student has decided on a program to attend, the application process can begin.

The majority of programs accept applications online and require supporting documentation to be delivered to the school. Several examples of supporting documentation include the following:

  • Transcripts from prior schools mailed to the prospective school
  • Recommendation letters, which are frequently needed to be delivered directly to the prospective school
  • Local law enforcement agencies’ fingerprint cards

The evaluation procedure can take anywhere between a few weeks and several months to complete. Typically, the school will provide a timeline. It is not unreasonable for a prospective student to contact the school if he or she believes they should have been contacted by a specific date. However, the most important thing to remember is to be patient!

Once all requirements are met, the school will analyze the information and respond with either a letter of rejection, a request for additional information, or a request for an interview, as the school may demand.

Interviewing can be challenging, so here are some pointers:

  • Dress professionally, preferably in a suit.
  • Women should dress in trousers or knee-length skirts.
  • Men should dress conservatively in a suit and tie.
  • Cover any visible tattoos and piercings; however, a woman’s ear piercings are permissible with modest earrings.
  • Nails should be neatly trimmed and free of flashy nail paint.
  • Hair that is neat and natural in color
  • No overpowering perfumes or colognes
  • Women should dress appropriately in their undergarments.
  • Shoes should be shiny and free of open toes or stiletto heels.
  • Conduct an online search for the school and ask pertinent questions regarding their program.
  • Read about the school’s history and bring it up in conversation to exhibit your interest in and desire to go. Sit forward in your chair to demonstrate your eagerness.
  • Women should sit with their legs crossed at the ankles.
    Frequently smile
  • Maintain a firm handshake.
  • Demonstrate assurance

Be prepared to respond to interview questions such as the following:

  • Why are you interested in attending this school?
  • Why are you interested in becoming a nurse?
  • What aspects of nursing do you enjoy and despise (Bridge Programs applicants)?
  • How will you manage your time between work, education, and home life?
  • How many hours a week are you planning to devote to schoolwork?
  • What type of nurse do you aspire to be?
  • What are your best and worst work experiences?
  • Sending a thank you message to the individual or people with whom you spoke is a lovely touch.

Acceptance or Denial Letters

Most schools will spend some time after the interview to review all of the applications before making a decision. This excruciating period may last days, weeks, or months, depending on the number of applicants scheduled for interview following you. Larger colleges with a greater number of available spaces attract a greater number of candidates than smaller institutions with fewer available spots.

Many institutions may mail you a letter or just email you to advise you of their decision, which should include a Welcome Packet with information on how to begin the program if accepted.

If an applicant is not accepted, they are frequently placed on a wait list or asked to submit or revise documentation for the following semester.

It is recommended to apply to as many schools as possible in order to increase your chances of acceptance and to work closely with advisers to obtain a better grasp of the school’s needs.

Awaiting the Start of the RN Program

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into the RN program on a formal basis. Now, what to do in the weeks or months leading up to the start of school!

If possible, arrange for in-home assistance, such as a house cleaner, nanny, or family member, or even monthly online household goods or grocery deliveries. Amazon and most local grocery retailers offer delivery in the majority of locations.

Purchase new notebooks and pencils, as well as a small bookcase to house all of the bright new nursing books you’re about to acquire. Decide on your study location and schedule, as well as how you want to manage work, school, family, and enjoyment. Maintain your vehicle to avoid breaking down on your way to class! In other words, plan ahead as much as possible so that you can devote your full attention to education.

While RN school is difficult, the rewards will last a lifetime. Pay, career rewards, opportunities for growth and change, and your own sense of success will sustain you over the difficult years ahead.

Congratulations on your decision to join the ranks and pursue a career as a registered nurse!