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LPN to BSN Programs

LPN to BSN is a big step. It entails not only going from practical to professional nursing but earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; the BSN is a credential that is often required for bedside nursing in magnet hospitals and that is valued for hiring or advancement in many settings. Nurses who opt for the credential have professional level clinical nursing education and also have additional coursework in areas like leadership and evidence-based practice – the latter involves selecting approaches that have the most evidence to back them up.

BSNs are in high demand, and there are plenty of options to help nurses at the lower levels earn the higher credential.

LPN to BSN Program Standards and Options

BSN nurses are held to high standards. An accredited program will likely be designed to meet standards set by the American Academy of Colleges of Nursing – the AACN Essentials. However, flexibility and innovation are valued.

LPN to BSN programs are designed to accommodate working professionals. A person can expect to put in clinical hours in a setting other than his or her usual workplace. However, most coursework may be available online.

Receiving Credit for Prior Study and Experience

Many programs are labeled LPN to BSN. The school may use other terminology like advanced placement. In some cases, students will join a traditional cohort of BSN students but at a later stage of the program.

A program will use some method to determine that a person does indeed have basic nursing competency, then award credit. The amount is variable. So is the process. Generally, a BSN student without prior nursing education can expect 60 or more semester hours of nursing coursework. A well-qualified LPN, though, will in some cases receive credit for 30 hours after validation.

Schools may look for recent practice, at least in the case of individuals who are not new graduates. They may use formal assessment to allow a nurse to test out of particular courses. Some schools award credit for basic nursing after completion of a short bridge program.

Challenge Examinations

National League for Nursing (NLN) Mobility Examinations are in widespread usage. The NACE II is designed as an RN to BSN examination. However, an LPN who is aiming straight for the BSN may need to be prepared. There are several tests:

  • Care of the Adult Client
  • Care of the Client During Childbearing
  • Care of the Child
  • Care of the Client with a Mental Disorder

The individual school is often the best source of information about the NACE. Schools vary with regard to which sub-tests they require or allow. They can provide registration information. A number of organizations have published test preparation guides – the testing process can be quite a challenge.

Prerequisite and Co-Requisite Coursework

A person will need more advanced prerequisite coursework for this level of nursing. Typical prerequisites include biology, chemistry, microbiology, psychology, and lifespan development.

There will be additional general studies courses required at some point along the way. These may be prerequisites or co-requisites. In order to graduate with a bachelor’s, the student will need a total of about 120 semester hours. The student may be opportunities to test for credit in some non-nursing subjects as well. The school may, for example, allow CLEP science coursework.

A school will set some entrance requirements beyond LPN credentialing and coursework. They may set a minimum GPA.

Selecting a Program

The student, too, will need to be choosy. At the LPN level, it is important that schools be state approved. At the higher levels, programmatic accreditation is often expected as well. The BSN isn’t necessarily the highest level a nurse will aspire to in his or her career. Some nurses go on to graduate level study and even become primary care practitioners; nurse practitioners often enter the advanced practice arena after a decade or so. Selecting a BSN program with regional and program-specific accreditation can lay the groundwork for almost unlimited advancement potential.

States continue to have a role in approving programs – and often in approving in-state clinical placement. Not all programs will be available in all states.

Chances are, though, that there will be multiple options. And some schools are better able to provide flexibility to the working professional.

The BSN Curriculum

Students will receive instruction in pharmacology, patient assessment, and care of varying populations. They will learn how to positively impact health at the individual and aggregate level. They will have clinical experiences which allow them to practice the more advanced technical skills under appropriate supervision.

Program Completion and Licensure

A student who has met educational requirements will take the NCLEX at a higher level. Graduates of BSN and ADN programs both take the NCLEX-RN.

The program may use an assessment to predict likelihood of passing the NCLEX; it may require remediation of those who score below a certain level.

Ultimately, the nurse will apply to his or her state board as an RN; the same license is awarded to ADNs and BSNs – it’s at the employment level that distinctions are made.

Additional Resources

LPN to RN Programs

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