LPN to BSN Bridge Programs

An overview of LPN-to-BSN bridge programs that allow LPNs to earn their BSN degrees more quickly. Includes information about duration, cost and more.
LPN to BSN Bridge Programs

There's a lot to love about working as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). Like many LPNs, though, you may dream of progressing into being a registered nurse (RN) someday. The best way to do so is by earning a bachelor of science in nursing, or BSN, as BSN-educated nurses enjoy the best opportunities and the most competitive pay. Earning a BSN normally takes about four years. If that seems like far too daunting of a proposition, you should look into LPN-to-BSN bridge programs instead. Find out what they are and what they entail by reading on below.

Why Should I Pursue a BSN?

If you want to become an RN, you don't have to earn a BSN to get there. In about two years, you can earn an associate degree in nursing, or ADN, and be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. There are also LPN-to-ADN bridge programs. Still, if you want to potentially advance even further in your career and education someday, earning a BSN is the way to go. Besides, BSN-educated nurses are in much higher demand, and they are eligible for better jobs, higher pay, and other benefits.

How Do LPN-to-BSN Bridge Programs Work?

It normally takes around four years to complete a BSN program. Needless to say, as a busy, working LPN, finding the time to commit yourself to four more years of school is a tall order. It can also feel a lot like starting from scratch, which is a bit unfair since you do have educational and career achievements under your belt.

With a bridge program, your previous education and work experience may be considered and applied so that you need fewer credits to earn your BSN. Please note that the typical BSN program requires the successful completion of around 120 credit hours of instruction. A certain percentage of these must be completed as clinical experience hours, where you get hands-on instruction and experience. Depending on how much work and educational experience you have, a bridge program may allow you to earn your BSN in two to three years.

How Long Will It Take for Me to Complete an LPN-to-BSN Program?

As mentioned above, it is possible to earn a BSN through a bridge program in anywhere from two to three years. That means that you may be able to save one or two years by pursuing this option. However, it is important to understand that your previous credits and experience may not apply completely. Students are sometimes taken aback to learn that they will only save a few months rather than a few years. Don't give up if one program gives you bad news. Other nursing programs may be more generous in interpreting your previous experience, so it is well worth it to shop around a little.

How Much Does It Cost to Complete an LPN-to-BSN Bridge Program?

Naturally, you are probably also concerned about how much it is going to cost you to complete an LPN-to-BSN bridge program. If you have investigated the cost of traditional BSN programs, however, you already have a pretty good idea. Your total cost, of course, will depend on how many credits you need. In-state tuition at a community college costs around $70 to $80 per credit, on average. Most programs require around 120 credits. You can do the math, but keep in mind that you may need to complete far fewer than 120 credits. It all depends on how your previous credits and experiences are applied by the school. Please note that financial aid is available and worth looking into as well.

Are Clinical Experiences Required?

Clinical experiences, or hands-on experiences in real healthcare settings, are an integral part of nursing education. No LPN-to-BSN program would be complete without them. However, just as with the general education requirements, you may be able to apply some of your work experience to fulfill at least part of this requirement. For example, if you are currently employed as an LPN, you may be able to apply some of your work hours toward this requirement. Every program is different, and this is another example of why it pays to look at several different options before enrolling in one.

Can I Complete an LPN-to-BSN Bridge Program Online?

If you work as an LPN and have other responsibilities, how are you supposed to drop everything and return to school for several years? To continue working while working toward your BSN, you might consider online LPN-to-BSN bridge programs. Many colleges and universities offer them, and they are very popular with working nursing professionals. While most of the work can typically be handled online, in-person clinical experiences are still mandatory. Again, you may be able to reduce the number of credits that you need in that area, but you will almost certainly have to find a local facility where you can complete this requirement.

Are All LPN-to-BSN Bridge Programs the Same?

Finally, LPN-to-BSN bridge programs vary widely in a number of ways, and the most important among them is accreditation. The program that you complete must be accredited by either the American Commission for Education in Nursing, or ACEN, or by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or CCNE. If it's not, you will not be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN, and you will have wasted a lot of time, money, and effort. Remember also that bridge programs vary in how they apply previous experience and credits as well as in price, quality, and other attributes.

Even if you are content working as an LPN for now, you will most likely be ready to progress further in your career at some point. Why not make it happen now? By completing an LPN-to-BSN bridge program, you can get where you need to be more quickly and easily and for a lot less money too.

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