Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) who desire career mobility, such as advancement to a higher position or advancement to becoming a registered nurse (RN) will often enroll in an LPN to BSN degree program. These programs build on the skills and knowledge of nursing that LPNs have, often with classes in nursing research, health informatics, and healthcare systems and policies.
The biggest difference between an LPN to BSN program and a traditional, standalone BSN program is that LPNs may transfer some previously earned credits from their LPN training towards their BSN program. This means that an LPN to BSN program may be shorter than a traditional BSN program, though the number of transferable credits will vary by school. Most LPN to BSN programs can be completed in as little as two years, as opposed to four years for a traditional BSN track. Some schools may also allow LPNs to count some of their nursing experience as credits towards their BSN degree.
Those who complete a BSN program will qualify to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed RN. This is similar to the NCLEX-PN examination that LPNs took, but covers a more extensive range of nursing topics, including in health policy and nursing ethics. Though a BSN is not required to earn RN licensure, as those with an associate degree or diploma in nursing (such as LPNs) may also sit for the NCLEX-RN, there is a growing movement to mandate that all RNs hold at least a bachelor’s degree in the field, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Therefore, it may be in a prospective RN’s best interest to strive for a BSN degree.
Many schools offering these programs may offer financial aid for qualifying students. Students may also be able to transfer credits. However, academic credits and credits for work experience or military experience are all subject to review by the school, and acceptance cannot be guaranteed.