LPN to BSN Bridge Program Guide
An LPN certification offers a career, a decent income, and valuable work experience. Often a person who becomes an LPN enjoys this position and is happy staying an LPN for the duration of their career. However, it is common for an LPN to continue their education and pursue an LPN to BSN Program. A BSN degree allows for increased responsibility, a higher level of pay, a broader range of jobs available and perhaps increased job satisfaction. The beauty of today’s LPN to BSN programs is that there are many options for a nurse to pursue – from the LPN desiring to achieve their BSN degree in a short amount of time, to the LPN who desires a part-time education so that they may continue working and attending to family obligations.
LPN to BSN Education
A BSN is a four year degree. It is generally offered at colleges and universities, and it prepares the student to take the NCLEX-RN after graduating. After successfully passing the NCLEX-RN, the student then receives licensure to practice nursing. There are programs available that enable an LPN to become a BSN. Some of these programs allow an LPN to “pass” out of certain classes, given their current work experience and prior education. Some of these programs are full-time, others are part-time and others are considered “fast track”, which allows an LPN to earn their education and subsequently their nursing licensure more quickly than a traditional nursing program.
How Does an LPN Become a BSN?
An LPN is a certification obtained at either a community college or university. It is typically a one year nursing program that is designed to prepare the student to take the NCLEX-PN. Passing the NCLEX-PN allows the student to receive their licensure, then to practice nursing. An LPN can continue their education shortly after receiving their nursing license. There are a couple options, should the LPN want to continue on for an RN license: an LPN to RN-ADN or an LPN to BSN program. Both programs prepare the student to take the NCLEX-RN; once this examination is passed, an RN license is obtained. While both programs will enable to LPN to become an RN, an RN with a bachelor’s degree has considerably more options when it comes to employment. This RN may have an easier time obtaining an RN job, as certain places of employment require a bachelor’s degree.
What Do I Need to Know About LPN to BSN Programs?
LPN to BSN programs are offered nationwide; they are typically offered in colleges and universities. A typical BSN programs takes four years to complete; this takes into consideration the prerequisites required for entrance into the program and other liberal classes required of all bachelor’s degrees. Universities may offer multiple types of BSN programs; for example, Michigan State University offers a traditional BSN program, which is designed for first degree students, an accelerated program, which is designed for students with a prior bachelor’s degree, and a BSN program specifically for students already holding their RN license. The amount of credits required for completion of a BSN degree is dependent on the school the student is enrolled, but most require about 124 to 128 credits. Although both an LPN to ADN and an LPN to BSN program prepare the student for the NCLEX-RN and an entry-level nursing job, the BSN program encompasses a wider range of studies, from social sciences, nursing research, community nursing, and nursing management. Obtaining a BSN widens the scope of jobs that are available to a new nurse.
Best Ranked BSN Programs
One of the best measures of a nursing program’s ability to prepare its students to become a registered nurse is to look at an institution’s first-time NCLEX-RN pass rates. We went directly to all 50 state boards of nursing to find, report and rank the best BSN degree programs.
Options for LPN to BSN Programs
When it comes to selecting an LPN to BSN programs, there are multiple options. Having these options is desirable for the working student, as the LPN can select the program that best fits their needs. The typical LPN to BSN student may be labeled a “non-traditional” student as they’ve already completed a college program, may be of an older age than the typical student, or may have different needs when it comes to their education. For example, an LPN who works full-time may find it desirable to select an online option, allowing them to continue working attending school part-time. Listed below are examples of LPN to BSN options:
- Traditional BSN programs. These programs are typically offered in colleges and universities. They are open to all types of students, from a new high school graduate, to a student attending school later in life, to an LPN choosing to further their education by obtaining their BSN.
- Fast-track LPN to BSN programs. These programs may also be called “accelerated” programs, depending on the school. Fast-track programs are typically offered in colleges and universities. These programs are designed for working LPNs; they are typically shorter than a traditional BSN program. They may have the same educational requirements as a traditional program, but they are often three semesters, back-to-back, without breaks.
- Online LPN to BSN programs. Online programs may be offered by “traditional” universities and colleges, or may be offered by colleges that are strictly web-based. The allure of the online LPN to BSN program is that there is typically not a waiting list, clinical portions may be completed in hospitals of the students’ choosing, the schooling can be completed on the students own time, such as evenings and weekends, and students may opt to attend part-time, allowing them to continue to earn an income.
How Long is the Average LPN to BSN Program?
The length of LPN to BSN programs is dependent on the type of education program that the LPN chooses.
- Traditional BSN programs. Often an LPN may still require prerequisites or liberal requirements of the university. These classes may make the program longer. Program length will vary by university. For example, East Tennessee State University has a traditional program that lasts 5 semesters, or about 2.5 years. Georgia State University’s traditional program is 6 semesters, or about 3 years. These program lengths do not take into consideration the prerequisite and liberal courses required, so any bachelor’s degree will take about 4 years to complete. These programs have the typical summer, holiday and spring breaks.
- Fast-track LPN to BSN programs. Fast-track programs take into consideration that all prerequisites and liberal courses are already obtained. These programs take the student about one year to complete; they are often three semesters that are back-to-back, with minimal breaks.
- Online LPN to BSN programs. The length of these programs is dependent on the program that the student selects. It is also dependent on if the student opts to attend full-time or part-time.
How Much Do LPN to BSN Programs Cost?
Estimating the average cost of an LPN to BSN program is difficult to calculate. The type of program influences the costs, as does the length and the type of school selected. For example, a public college or university will be cheaper than a private college or university. Living out-of-state will also increase the cost. Online program costs also vary widely, depending on if the program is web-based out of a “traditional” school, or if it is a primarily web-based college. There are multiple online net price calculators available to estimate the cost of a nursing education. It is also necessary to take into consideration the cost of textbooks, nursing scrubs and other attire, miscellaneous fees required of the college, and other necessary supplies needed for clinicals. Most of these online calculators will take these costs into consideration. Nursing school is not cheap, even if a less pricy option is selected. It is a good idea to see if there are grants or scholarships available, submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and inquire at places of employment if tuition reimbursement is offered. Tuition reimbursement may cover a large portion of nursing school tuition, provided the nurse promises to work for their current place of employment for a prearranged amount of time after graduation.
Job Outlook for LPNs Becoming BSNs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is calculated that from the year 2012 to the year 2022, the need for RNs will increase by 19%. This means that the nursing field will be increasing faster than average for all occupations. In 2012, there were approximately 2,711,500 nursing jobs available. With the increase of 19%, this means that there will be an additional 526,800 nursing jobs. This does not take into consideration replacing the number of RNs who will be retiring – this is simply new nursing jobs. The accelerated growth of this job is due to a number of reasons. For one, people are living longer with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. People will require care until a later age for chronic conditions. There is also a larger emphasis on preventive care. In addition, the baby boomer population is aging, requiring more advanced nursing care as they get older.
LPN vs RN Employment by State
|State||LPN Employment||RN Employment||% Difference|
|District of Columbia||1,500||11,030||86%|
Employment Options for BSNs
There are many employment options for BSNs. An entry-level BSN will typically find work as a floor nurse on a hospital floor or in a long-term care (LTC) facility. An entry-level nurse may find jobs on specialty units with ease, such an ICU, oncology unit, or maternity unit. Other entry-level positions include various clinics of doctors’ offices. With a little time and experience, the job market expands for BSNs. Non-clinical jobs available in a hospital include nursing unit managers, head nurses, or administrative roles, such as a chief nursing officer (CNO). There are also many non-hospital and non-clinical jobs available to BSN-trained RNs. For example, a BSN may be eligible for administrative positions in LTC facilities, hospice facilities, insurance offices and government offices. According to Jacksonville University, a BSN with a varied work experience may find a job as a healthcare recruiter, may work in nursing informatics, may teach nursing students, become a medical writer, work as a patient advocate, or work in pharmaceutical or medical device sales.
What Jobs Can a BSN Do That an ADN or LPN Cannot?
An LPN’s scope of practice is dependent on the state they reside. Nursing practice is regulated by each state’s board of nursing. However, the average LPN can administer oral or IV medications, chart in the record, obtain vital signs, change wound dressings, collect specimens, monitor patients for a change in condition and perform CPR in an emergency situation. In fact, many of the responsibilities of an LPN and an RN overlap; the defining difference is that an LPN practices nursing and is supervised by an RN. In fact, an ADN-prepared RN and a BSN-prepared RN also have similar responsibilities. They can perform all of the duties that an LPN can – which can confuse the public on the difference of each type or nurse. However, an RN is responsible for critical thinking, developing the care plan and making changes to the care plan, which the LPN cannot do. That being said, there is a difference in the type of jobs available to ADN-prepared RNs and BSN-prepared RNs. Both RNs can work at the patient bedside, can work in specialized units and can work in LTC facilities. However, a BSN-prepared RN has additional education that better prepares them for certain positions. The education requirements in the BSN curriculum prepares the RN to teach, research and work in administration, in addition to entry-level nursing jobs. In fact, there is a growing trend of hospitals requiring a BSN for employment. The state of New York is proposing legislature on a proposal called “BS in 10”. The BS in 10 proposal would require that all ADN-prepared RNs continue for their BSN, completing this requirement within 10 years of employment. The idea between the BS in 10 proposal is that as healthcare needs grow, so should the skill level of the nurses caring for these patients. Although no state currently requires a BSN for employment, the hiring facility does reserve the right to hire only nurses with a BSN. And some very interesting and lucrative nursing careers require one of the many RN Specialties or BSN Specialties available to nurses with an advanced education.
LPN to BSN Salary Comparison
There is a large difference in pay between LPNs and BSNs. Pay for both LPNs and BSNs varies based on the area of employment and state of employment. LPN pay based on area of employment:
- The highest paid LPNs work in skilled nursing facilities or home health care, earning $44,500 to $45,370.
- The lowest paid LPNs work in physicians’ offices, earning $39,390.
LPN pay based on state:
- The highest paid LPNs are employed in Washington DC, earning approximately $50,000 per year.
- The lowest paid LPNs are employed in Hawaii, earning approximately $24,000 per year.
BSN employment based on area of employment:
- The highest paid BSNs work in outpatient surgical centers or as hospital-based nurses, earning $71,640 to $72,390. This pay goes up if the unit is specialized; these nurses make approximately $74,590.
- The lowest paid BSNs work in skilled nursing facilities and in physicians’ offices, earning $62,440 to $63,800.
BSN pay based on state:
- The highest paid BSNs are employed in California, earning approximately $98,400 per year. Hawaii and Massachusetts follow closely behind, with salaries of $88,230 to $90,260 and $85,770 to $90,880, respectively.
- The lowest paid BSNs are employed in South Dakota, Iowa and West Virginia.
- The national mean salary of all BSNs is $66,200.
RN Salary & Employment Breakdown by State
|State||RN Employment||RN Hourly Mean Wage||Annual Mean Wage|
|District of Columbia||10,530||$38.25||$79,560.00|
A Word About Magnet Designation and BSN Degrees
Magnet hospitals have become a buzzword in today’s nursing healthcare culture. The public associates a Magnet-designated hospital with the very best of nursing care. These hospitals often have better reputations than hospitals without a Magnet designation. This perception is accurate. Only 6% of hospitals achieve Magnet certification. There are currently 389 Magnet hospitals in the US. Patients these days know that using a Magnet hospital for their healthcare means that the hospital has hit many quality benchmarks to meet this requirement. It also means that the nurses employed in a Magnet hospital enjoy their jobs, have job satisfaction with their employer and patients can subsequently receive excellent care from these happy nurses. A Magnet hospital encourages its staff to improve patient outcomes, thus increasing patient satisfaction rates. Magnet hospitals also encourage nurses to focus on autonomy, while also developing multidisciplinary relationships. These hospitals typically have a low turnover rate, professional growth opportunities, leadership opportunities, and a supportive structure, amongst many other things. Magnet hospitals encourage continuing education. That being said, having a BSN degree is not necessary for employment in a Magnet hospital, unless it is a specific hospital protocol. It is recommended that Magnet hospitals employ 80% BSN-prepared nurses by 2020, but at this time, is not a requirement.