LVN to ADN Programs

Although licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) are an essential part of the health care team, the career ladder for LVNs is often limited. One way LVNs can improve their job prospects is to attend a LVN to ADN (associate's degree in nursing) bridge program. Successful graduates of a LVN to ADN program can launch careers as registered nurses (RNs). Since an RN salary is on average about $20,000 higher than LVN wages, the investment in this transition may pay off in a relatively short amount of time.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs make up the largest single occupation in the health care industry. This means there are plenty of RN jobs available in a wide variety of health care settings. Although 60 percent of RN jobs are in hospitals, other jobs outside hospitals include:

  • Home health care services
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Physician offices

Making the LVN to ADN Transition

There are many accredited nursing schools throughout the U.S. that offer LVN to ADN transition programs. These LVN to ADN bridge programs are only available to current LVNs. The curriculum allows students to build on their previous education and skills as they pursue an associate's degree in nursing. Successful completion of the ADN degree allows graduates to sit for the RN licensure exam.

Admissions. The admission requirements for LVN to ADN transition programs vary from program to program. Most schools require certain standard requirements for admission. These can include:

  • Minimum GPA requirement
  • Minimum ACT or SAT scores
  • Prerequisite course requirements
  • Minimum number of clinical practice hours

LVN to ADN candidates may also need to pass a health screening and provide proof of vaccinations.

LVN to ADN Curriculum. The LVN to ADN curriculum builds on the previous LVN coursework and job skills. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Chemistry
  • General psychology
  • Pharmacology
  • Computers in nursing

Most LVN to ADN programs also include considerable hands-on clinical training. This clinical component is typically conducted in various hospital departments, including maternity, pediatrics, intensive care, and geriatrics. The clinical practicum may also include work in public health departments, clinics, or nursing care facilities.

LVN to ADN Program Costs. The exact costs of a LVN to ADN program vary from school to school. While keeping this in mind, here are some approximate costs for a LVN to ADN bridge program.

  • Tuition and fees: $175 per credit
  • Uniforms: $200 per year
  • Textbooks & supplies: up to approx. $2,000 per year
  • NCLEX-RN test fee: $200 (required for RN licensure)

RN Licensure. In order to be licensed as a registered nurse, candidates must graduate from an accredited nursing program and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). This applies to all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

ADN Salary and Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the health care industry, already one of the nation's largest fields, will continue to grow over the next decade. This means the job prospects for registered nurses should continue to be excellent. The latest BLS statistics indicate that employment of registered nurses will grow 22 percent from 2008 to 2018. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS projects that an estimated 581,000 new RN jobs should be created in that time.

Along with job security, registered nurses also enjoy a salary advantage over LVNs. The latest BLS figures report the 2009 median RN salary was $63,750, with the top 10 percent of RN's earning more than $93,000 per year. LVNs looking to take the next step in their career should consider earning an ADN and advancing to RN roles.

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