LPN to RN: Making the Journey
Are you currently an LPN and considering becoming an RN? Well, if you are that is definitely understandable as RNs typically enjoy a higher salary according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics among other various perks and an increased amount of job options (although this is never guaranteed).
LPN to RN: Does an LPN Need to Become an RN?
No, an LPN does not need to become an RN, however, for some people this may be a wise decision depending up where they want to go professionally. When making the journey from LPN to RN, there are a lot of things to consider, with one of the first being whether or not a person wants to get a two year RN degree, or go for a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing). A BSN may (this is not guaranteed) open more doors in the nursing field because some employers may have a minimum requirement of a bachelor’s degree in order to work in their institution. Some people may also believe that a BSN may earn a higher salary over an RN, although this can depend on a number of factors such as experience and may not always be the case.
With that said, if you’re looking to move from an LPN to an RN or BSN there are a number of schools where you can do this, but there are a lot of things to consider in that process.First off, you may consider where you want to attend school. If you’re looking to obtain an RN degree and not a BSN, there are a number of community colleges that offer this, and they may have the cheapest tuition (depending upon where you live). If you’re looking to obtain a BSN, then you’d typically need to attend a four year college or university. The state that you live in can also impact your decision to pursue an RN or BSN degree because different states may have different rules as far as how much of your LPN schooling may count toward and RN or BSN, and different schools may also have varying rules on how much credit they will give you toward your RN or BSN degree from your LPN schooling. There may even be some schools that offer LPN to RN online programs, although this may not be allowed in some states and generally speaking, a large portion of classroom training may still be required.
Reaching out to the Department of Health or whichever agency handles the nursing credentialing in your state may be a great first step to find out what’s required by the state. Also, contacting schools that you’re interested and finding out about their RN programs (and the requirements associated with them) may also be helpful too. One thing to understand is that it may be a good idea to research a variety of schools and take your time when choosing a program. It’s not good to be pressured in any way to make a decision as it is most important to find a school that meets your needs and is somewhere that you’d really enjoy attending. There are a lot of decisions in this process, and it’s important to make sure that you’re thorough and take the time to decide what’s best for you and gather all of the information that you need in order to make the best decision.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that employment of Registered Nurses will grow 19% through 2022.
There are some significant differences between Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs), as RNs have more extensive educational training. While an LPN helps with patient care and assisting nurses and physicians, RNs hold more responsibilities, including:
- Helping to perform diagnostic tests
- Creating plans for patient care
- Administering treatments and/or medicine
- Consulting with patients on illness management and home treatment
- Operating medical equipment
- Recording symptoms and medical histories
- Administering blood products and IVs
- Collaboration with all members of the health care team
- Supervising LPNs and unlicensed personnel
In addition, RNs tend to hold more management positions, and are able to obtain additional certifications so they may specialize in areas such as critical care, emergency care, clinical care, pain management, medical-surgical, gerontology, midwifery, and neonatal.
In the future, if you’re thinking about progressing from Licensed Practical Nursing to becoming a Registered Nurse, there are two ways to go about it.
LPN to RN Wage Comparison
When looking at the statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (also known as the BLS), it’s fairly clear to see in these numbers that RNs generally enjoy a higher wage and salary, which equates partially to their higher level of experience and expertise.
As of 2018, the median pay for a Registered Nurse (RN) was $71,730 per year with a median hourly wage of of $34.48 per hour. In comparison, the median pay as of 2016 according to the BLS for an LPN was $44,090 per year with median hourly wage of $21.20 per hour.
From these statistics, it’s fairly clear to see that RNs earn about 35% more than LPNs, statistically speaking of course. This alone may be enough for people who are interested in the profession of nursing to consider becoming an RN as another possible path. Obviously things aren’t just about the money when considering and type of profession, but there are also generally a lot specialty options when looking at RNs instead of LPNs (RNs are able to specialize where LPNs are generally not able to do this). With the potentially increased wages and broader professional options, moving from LPN to RN may be a popular choice among nurses.
LPN to RN Programs
To become a Registered Nurse, you must get either an associate’s degree (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree (BSN). Graduates from both of these programs become RNs once they graduate and pass the NCLEX exam, but there are differences between these two degrees.
In general, BSN programs take approximately four years to complete; ADN programs can be completed in approximately 18-24 months. In some cases, nurses choose to take the ADN route to get themselves in the work force sooner, then go back to complete their BSN. Others who may already have a bachelor’s degree but develop an interest in nursing may obtain a BSN more quickly than four years.
Both programs have the core courses needed to teach nursing competencies, as well as the necessary clinical hours that provide hands-on learning experience. The biggest difference between the two programs when it comes to course work is that the BSN includes more classes that provide further scope into the nursing profession, such as management and leadership, social and physical sciences, research, and public health. The BSN includes these courses to bolster students’ understanding of patient care issues as well as their professional development.
Career opportunities and salaries for ADN vs. BSN Registered Nurses may or may not be significant. Like other positions, these differences depend on your state, city, and place of employment.
Opportunities: While both ADN and BSN RNs do most of the same tasks, RNs with their BSN may be given greater responsibility; because of the additional courses, BSN nurses may also be presented with more opportunities for management and leadership roles. Some specialties, such as nurse education and public health, require a BSN. The most common title for nurses with their BSN or ADN is Registered Nurse, however, these nurses may also go by the titles of Staff Nurse or Home Health Registered Nurse. Titles like Nurse Manager or Case Manager tend to be offered to nurses with a BSN, as they have likely taken courses that further their understanding of these professions.
Salary: In 2018, Registered Nurses (both ADN and BSN) reported a median annual salary of $71,730. The nursing field is expected to grow 16% through the year 2024, so job outlook for RNs is great.
While salary may not differ greatly between BSN and ADN RNs, BSN nurses do tend to have more job opportunities, which may lead to higher salaries overall.
Other Things to Consider about LPN to RN Programs
As mentioned above, whenever you choose a nursing program it’s important to make sure that it’s approved by the Board of Nursing in the state where you live and also important to consider other factors as well such as the duration of the program, as well as the reputation that the program has locally in your state and the overall cost of the program. Everyone knows that student loans can become burdensome, and it’s best to avoid them completely if possible, so cost of attendance should always be a factor that’s taken into consideration with the understanding that avoiding debt is very important.
When it comes to advancing from an LPN to an RN, it’s a decision that only you can make for yourself. The timing has to be right as well as your motivations for making the switch. For many LPNs, they want to move on to the next level in their professional lives which often means getting the RN degree, and then moving onto a BSN, and even sometimes an MSN. This is something that you need to think about in terms of your personal goals, but with the proper research and dedication to figuring out what’s the next best step, you’ll end up with a decision that’s right for you.