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LVN to RN Programs

Licensed vocational nurses understand the challenges, benefits, and rewards of the nursing field. There is also room for considerable growth for LVNs as they make the move to become registered nurses (RNs). As LVNs move up to the registered nurse level, they can improve their salary prospects and have access to a greater range of employment opportunities.

As part of the largest health care profession, nurses can be found in all health care specialties, such as:

  • Pediatrics
  • Pediatric oncology
  • Holistic nursing
  • Hospice and palliative care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Ambulatory care

LVN to RN: Education and Training Requirements

Today, there are a number of programs aimed at helping current LVNs and LPNs make the transition to RN. A LVN to RN bridge or transition program can provide students with the additional education and training needed to become a registered nurse.

The most common LVN to RN programs offer either an Associate of Science Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN). The associate's degree option is typically a shorter and less expensive program. Although the BSN degree option generally requires additional time, it may pay off as many employers prefer graduates with a four-year degree.

It is important to remember, however, that ASN holders can take classes later to upgrade an associate's degree to a bachelor's degree.

The LVN to RN Transition

Education. As noted above, a LVN to RN program is one of the most common ways for an LVN to become a registered nurse. Numerous universities and colleges offer RN programs across the country. It is important to remember that each school has its own admission requirements. However, they do share some commonalities, including:

  • Minimum grade point averages
  • Minimum ACT or SAT scores
  • Prerequisite courses

Some RN programs may even require the prospective student to possess a certain number of clinical practice course prior to being admitted to the program.

LVN to RN Coursework. The LVN to RN bridge program coursework builds on the classes in an LVN program, including:

  • Medical-surgical nursing
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Leadership
  • Pharmacology

In addition, there is typically a clinical component that provides new hands-on training during the RN transition. This supervised clinical experience is held in hospital departments such as maternity, pediatrics, surgery, and psychiatry. Some RN programs also offer clinical experience in public health departments, ambulatory clinics, public health departments, and nursing care facilities.

LVN to RN Cost. Although costs vary from college to college and from program to program, it is still important to understand the costs of completing an RN program. Generally speaking, average costs for an RN program are in the following range:

  • Tuition and Fees. $175 per credit (approximate)
  • Uniforms: $200 per year (approximate)
  • Supplies and textbooks: $2,000 per year (approximate)
  • NCLEX-RN test fee: $200

RN Licensure. All nurses need to hold the appropriate certification. In all 50 states (and the District of Columbia), nurses must graduate from an accredited nursing program as well as pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in order to get a nursing license.

Career Outlook for Registered Nurses

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health care is one of the country's largest industries and nursing remains one of the largest career groups. In fact, the BLS projects nursing as one of the fastest growing career opportunities between 2008 and 2018. At 22 percent, job growth is significant and there should be over 500,000 new RN positions available during the 2008 to 2018 period. As older nurses retire and the overall need for health care services increases, registered nurses should remain in demand.

The RN salary is also another benefit of becoming a registered nurse. Again, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 2009 median salaries for RNs was $63,750, with the top 10 percent earning over $93,000 per year. Specialization within the nursing field can also boost salaries, as pay for nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists is usually higher than RN salaries.

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