An LPN to RN bridge program is an academic program for those who are have already completed the educational requirements and passed the exam to become a Licensed Professional Nurse (LPN) to continue to advance in their education career while building upon and integrating the education and work experience they have already completed. This educational path usually ends in the attainment of an Associate´s Degree in Nursing (ADN) degree.
The LPN to RN bridge program is aimed at individuals with specific backgrounds and preparation. In order to be admitted into one of these programs, a student must hold a high school diploma or GED, must have completed an educational program leading to either a diploma or certificate accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), and passed a test in order to obtain an unrestricted license in the given state where the individual wants to practice. Attainment of the LPN diploma usually consists of a 12 month program involving both academic and clinical requirements and is typically offered at vocational schools and community colleges. Once a person has these qualifications, she or he is ready to apply to an LPN to RN bridge program.
Time to degree
The duration of the typical LPN to RN bridge program ranges from 12 months to two years. The 12-month programs are typically accelerated programs that condense academic work and clinical hours into a shortened period of time, whereas longer programs allow the student to spread the work out over a longer period of time, allowing the accommodation of other responsibilities such as work and/or family.
Benefits of the LPN to RN bridge program include the ability to build upon past education, work experience, and skills. In every single state, there is a major increase in the average salary obtained by RNs in comparison to LPNs, which can be anywhere from 30% to 84.9%! For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median RN salary nationwide is $65,950, whereas for LPNs it was $41,540. In some states, the difference is more extreme, such as in California where the average annual salary for an LPN in is $51,170, compared to $94,120 for an RN! You can find information about job outlooks here http://www.bls.gov/oes/2011/may/oes291111.htm.
Another benefit is that by first going for an LPN degree, you can earn while you further your education. The LPN itself is much shorter and less demanding than pursuing an RN, and can start you off with a decent salary and professional experience and contacts. You can also decide if you even like the career before you invest more time and energy in furthering a career in nursing. It is not uncommon for people to invest in a career only to find out they don`t like it, so taking this route gives you a cautious approach before you invest too much.
Although, for many people, the LPN to RN bridge program represents an excellent and cost-effective opportunity, drawbacks to this nursing pathway option exist. One drawback is that this option, in some cases, can be longer and more expensive than going directly for a program that results in RN licensure. Another drawback might be that, if your ultimate goal really is a Bachelor´s of Science in Nursing (BSN) or other graduate or advanced degree, taking the start and stop approach of earning an ADN and then going on to a BSN wastes a certain amount of time. If your goal is an advanced degree, it is likely best to go straight for that degree rather than aiming for the step-by-step approach.