Under the guidance and supervision of other healthcare professionals, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) provide a variety of basic care to their patients. Many nursing students first consider starting with an LPN program or certification to gain experience in patient care and use this degree to gain entrance into a career in healthcare. However, after working as an LPN, many students decide to enroll in LPN to RN online programs in order to advance their healthcare careers while continuing to work with their LPN certifications.
For many students, the decision to pursue an online Registered Nurse (RN) degree hints towards the growing benefits that online education programs provide to aspiring nursing students who cannot dedicate the time or resources to a full-time degree. For students in LPN to RN programs, the following requirements are needed to enroll and complete most online nursing programs:
- High school diploma or GED
- An unrestricted LPN license from an accredited program or university
- A minimum number of clinical hours (determined by each state’s Board of Nursing)
Once these requirements are met, most programs, on average, have the student complete 30 to 40 credit hours, which amounts to 1-2 years of fulltime study. And, like many LPN programs, LN to RN nursing degrees can be completed through a community college, vocational school, or university. Usually, the completion of these online degrees take an average of 36 months and award the student either a program degree or certification, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree depending on the type, pace, or requirements of each individual program. The total time dedicated to attaining this online LPN to RN program comprises of a combination of online classes and clinical hours. The amount of clinical hours that the student needs to complete for each program depends on the specific requirements of the program and the required number of hours that the nursing boards of each state mandate. Nevertheless, all online degree programs focus on preparing the student for the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX exam that each state board of nursing requires in order for the student to start practicing in any entry level nursing position. Regardless of the completion of any online nursing program, the student must complete and pass the NCLEX exam in order to receive a license to practice in their desired state.
Fortunately for students who have significant knowledge or experience thanks to their LPN credentials, the online degree programs aim to minimize coursework that may seem redundant, making the process more efficient and streamlined. Ultimately, for students who seek a degree or certification, this type of program allows them:
- Flexibility in class time and location
- Lower program or course costs
- Programs that can be completed alongside part-time work
- The same quality education as full-time programs
The decision to enroll in online RN courses allows many students to expand their job opportunities, earn more money, and provide higher quality of care to patients at their own pace and in their desired setting and circumstances.
Graduating from and Online LPN to RN Program
After completing an online LPN to RN program, students who received an RN license in their respective state enjoy a variety of benefits in comparison to their LPN counterparts. Once they complete their program and pass their NCLEX exams, their RN responsibilities shift to:
- Supervising LPNs and other nurse aids
- Ensuring quality patient care
- Guaranteeing adequate staff
- Auditing charts and care plans
With the added experience in supervising other healthcare professionals and patient care, attaining an RN entry level position has allowed the most experienced RNs to reach management positions such as Head Nurse, Chief Nurse, or Director of Nursing in their respective health facilities. Moreover, the total amount of RN positions and jobs available has steadily increased throughout the nation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is an estimated 19% increase in the number of jobs available for licensed RNs along with an estimated $20,000 income increase in comparison to an LPNs yearly salary. With an RN license, nursing students have the ability to also start practicing in other healthcare facilities that would previously not been possible with an LPN license. While LPNs tend to practice in facilities such as long-term care facilities (LTCF), hospice, or home health, licensed RNs are able to work in these types facilities along with working in hospitals or private practices that have larger patient populations. Lastly, online nursing graduates have more opportunities in expanding into specialized fields of nursing and care into fields such as genetics nursing, neonatal nursing, ambulatory care nursing, or nursing education. With access to a greater patient population and even the possibility of enrolling into a program that focuses on specialized fields of nursing and patient care, enrolling into an LPN to RN online program proposes the possibility of removing any previous barrier or limitations that a singular LPN license might have in allowing a nurse to provide their desired quality and method of health care.