LVN to BSN Bridge Programs

A general overview of LVN-to-BSN bridge programs, which allow nurses with LVN licenses to earn their BSNs more quickly.
LVN-to-BSN Bridge Programs

As a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) you've already had to complete your training to earn your LVN license. If you would like to progress into becoming a registered nurse (RN), additional training and education are required. However, you may be able to put your experience as an LVN to work for you to earn your next degree more quickly. Through an LVN-to-BSN bridge program, you can earn a four-year bachelor of science in nursing, or BSN, degree in far less than the four years that are typically required. Learn more about LVN-to-BSN bridge programs below.

Why Should I Earn a BSN?

First, you may be wondering why you'd bother to return to school at all. After all, you have your LVN license. However, if you would like to become an RN and qualify for more competitive pay and benefits, you need additional training and education. This used to mean having to "start from scratch" with a new, four-year program, but that's no longer the case. A bridge program lets you move up in your career in as little as two to three years, and you can keep working while attending school too.

Why Not Earn an ADN?

As you probably already know, you don't need a BSN to become an RN. The alternative option is to earn a two-year associate degree in nursing, or ADN. However, today's top employers vastly prefer BSN-educated RNs, so it's in your best interest to pursue this option instead. Although LVN-to-ADN bridge programs are available, it makes more sense to devote your spare time to school for a few years to earn a BSN. With your bachelor's degree in hand, you will qualify for better jobs. Later, you can more easily progress into earning a master's degree or doctoral degree as well.

What are LVN-to-BSN Bridge Programs All About?

Typically, earning a BSN means attending and completing an accredited four-year nursing program at a college or university. However, bridge programs allow nursing students who already have some education and experience under their belts to progress toward their next degrees more quickly. That's because many of your general requirements may be covered already by your previous education or experience. Most BSN programs require a minimum of 120 credits. However, through a bridge program, you may be able to test out of many requirements - which means that you won't have to earn as many credits to get your degree.

How Long Does it Take to Complete an LVN-to-BSN Bridge Program?

Like any busy working nurse, you are probably eager to earn your BSN so that you can progress into the next stage of your career. This type of program takes anywhere from two to four years on average to complete. It varies a lot because the total length of your particular program will depend on your previous experience and educational attainments. Different schools may apply previous credits and experience differently, so it is often worth it to search around a little and to compare and contrast various options.

How Much Do Bridge Programs Cost?

Before you can make a serious decision about enrolling in an LVN-to-BSN bridge program, you need to know how much you're likely to pay. Unfortunately, this varies far too widely for ballpark estimates to be of any use. Bridge programs for those who possess ADNs but who want BSNs tend to cost anywhere from $8,000 to $55,000. Your total cost will vary depending on whether you attend school in state or out of state; whether your school is public or private; the total number of credits that you need; and on many other factors.

How are Clinical Experiences Handled in Bridge Programs?

As you already know from your LVN training, nursing education includes classroom instruction as well as clinical experiences. The latter allow you to apply what you have learned in a practical, real-life setting. Most commonly, clinical experiences are completed at local hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Sometimes, students who are currently employed can even complete them where they work. Clinical experiences are required in LVN-to-BSN bridge programs, but your previous work experience may be used to allow you to "test out" of some of the required work. Therefore, you most likely won't have to complete as many credit hours for clinical experiences and labs as you otherwise would.

Are Online LVN-to-BSN Bridge Programs Available?

By their very nature, bridge programs are designed to make it easier for working nurses to advance in their educations and careers. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that online bridge programs are readily available and wildly popular. After all, if you are holding down a job as an LVN while completing your bridge program, you won't have a lot of time to spare. By completing your training online instead, you will enjoy a lot more flexibility. However, online schooling isn't for everyone. If you tend to be self-motivated and are good at staying on top of your responsibilities, you should be okay. Just remember that there's a lot less direction with online school than with classroom instruction.

Is Accreditation Important?

LVN-to-BSN bridge programs are essentially the same as traditional BSN programs. Whether you earn your BSN through a bridge program or the traditional way, you have to sit for the NCLEX-RN to earn your license. You will only be eligible to do so if the program that you completed was accredited by a legitimate organization like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or CCNE, or by the American Commission for Education in Nursing, or ACEN. Make sure that the LVN-to-BSN program that you choose is properly accredited, or you may be in for a rude awakening when you try to register for the NCLEX-RN.

If you enjoy working as an LVN but are ready for more responsibility, more opportunities, and better compensation, consider completing an LVN-to-BSN bridge program to take the next step forward.

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