Best LPN to RN Programs – Accredited Online
Many Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses (LPN/LVNs) eventually wish to advance their education to become Registered Nurses (RNs). Depending on the time, budget, and educational credits already earned, the LPN may be able to start work as a registered nurse in less than a year! Most universities have nursing schools that offer specific LPN to RN bridge program pathways that take into account the student's prior education and experience. These are much more affordable and take far less time to complete than a traditional 2-year or 4-year RN program. LPN to RN bridge students can graduate with an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) and can apply for state licensure and ultimately find employment as an RN.
With many healthcare employers looking to hire registered nurses, enrolling in an LPN to RN program is an advantageous career move. While there are many LPN to RN program options, most students wish to choose the best program available to them. We have ranked our top online LPN to RN picks below, based on factors like NCLEX-RN pass rates, program attributes, and more. Whether you are an LPN looking to earn an ADN or a BSN, these highly ranked schools are sure to help you meet your RN goals. For more information on our top LPN to RN program rankings, see our Methodology Page.
The answer in many cases is "Yes! Absolutely!" Keep reading to find out why.
Phasing Out LPNs?
Many healthcare facilities, including hospitals, have already started phasing out the LPN position, with the intention of making it obsolete. Some lucky LPNs already employed for many years prior have likely been "grandfathered" into their jobs, however, they may have been asked to earn an RN degree to keep their job. This is mostly due to many RNs seeking employment and the inability to assign patients solely to an LPN, as LPNs legally require direct RN supervision. Eventually, the LPN position is likely to be completely eliminated.
RNs have a lot more options for places to work versus LPNs. Hospitals, clinics, physician's offices, insurance companies, pharmaceutical sales, education, and many more options exist for RNs. Some of these jobs may still employ LPNs, but the positions will be far less common and certainly won't pay as well.
RNs also have the ability to specialize in certain areas. While LPNs can be found working in various areas of healthcare, RNs can gain advanced education and formal certification to find work with the patient populations they are most passionate about. For instance, RNs can work with babies as a NICU nurse, help those with mental illnesses and addictions as a psychiatric nurse, or serve their communities as a public health nurse, amongst many other specializations.
Learn more about Nursing Careers & Specialties for RNs
Many LPNs wish to advance to RN careers due to the increased salaries. See the below salary table outlining the increase in pay from an LPN vs RN by state.
|State||LPN Annual Salary||RN Annual Salary||Percent Increase|
|District of Columbia||$53,370||$92,350||73%|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, data extracted on 12/3/2020
The Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is a nurse who has completed nursing prerequisites plus a one year LPN program. The LPN cannot work in the same settings as a registered nurse and they often find themselves limited to only a few places for employment. However, the registered nurse can work in the same settings as the LPN, usually in a supervisory role, and have the training and authority to complete many more tasks.
For this reason, LPN programs may be less desirable than RN programs, but they are usually still available in most states. Many LPN programs are being phased out of schools because LPNs are being hired less and less in the healthcare marketplace. However, many choose to start their nursing careers as LPNs due to the shorter educational requirements in order to begin working sooner, and then enroll in an LPN to RN bridge program later on.
The LPN to RN program may be a shortcut method of being accepted into nursing school and much faster than attending traditional ADN or BSN programs. As for employment opportunities, most facilities do not require a Bachelor's degree to get hired, but may require it within a set amount of years or employment. See RN to BSN.
Check out our breakdown of the two career paths with RN vs LPN.
When compared to traditional ADN or BSN programs, many benefits exist for the LPN to RN bridge program.
Short Waiting List
Attending a trade school or community college which offers the LPN program may be less expensive and shorten or eliminate the waiting list that is common for popular ADN and BSN programs. And once completed, the LPN qualifies for the LPN to RN bridge program. Because many students do not consider becoming an LPN as a stepping stone to becoming an RN initially, the waiting list for the bridge program is often much shorter than traditional RN programs.
LPN to RN bridge programs typically take a year or less for students looking to graduate with the Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN), and around 2 years for the Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) option. Because students have already completed a year of nursing school in their LPN program, they essentially enter the bridge program in the second year of a traditional RN program. Students then just need to meet the state requirements for clinical hours, making this program much shorter than attending the traditional ADN or BSN program all at once.
Small Class Sizes
Because this is not the traditional path most nursing students consider, class sizes may be smaller for LPN to RN bridge programs than ADN or BSN programs. This can be helpful when trying to find tutoring or asking questions during class. Many instructors will know the students by name and be available for help when needed. Closer bonds between students are also common, which is helpful for forming study groups and building an understanding of the course material.
LPNs are usually working in the healthcare field as nurses while adding to their nursing education in their RN bridge program. This hands-on experience in healthcare is priceless. School can teach a nurse how to be safe and understand the human body, but nothing quite takes the place of gaining actual real-world experience.
Work During School
Most LPN to RN programs are scheduled with the working nurse in mind. Students can typically choose between part-time or full-time class schedules, with evening and weekend courses often available. The goal of many of these programs is to allow students to continue working (at least part-time) while completing their RN studies.
RELATED - During RN School & After
While requirements vary with each program and each school some similarities are likely to exist.
- High school diploma or GED
- 18 years old or older
- Fluent in reading, writing, and speaking English
- US citizen or permanent resident
- Graduation from an accredited nursing school
- GPA of 2.5 or greater
- Prerequisite courses satisfied with LPN program or otherwise
- LPN license in good standing with the State board of nursing
Many of the basics of nursing are learned during the first year of nursing school, which is the LPN program. So LPNs are already well-versed in the basics of patient care and the human body.
However, one of the hallmark differences is teaching the LPN to become a more independent critical thinker. After all, by law, the RN supervises the LPN, so the RN needs to be able to function safely and independently as an expert nurse while under the supervision of a physician.
The LPN to RN curriculum requires graduates to be experts in:
- Advanced physical assessment
- Advanced pharmacology
- Anatomy and physiology
- Advanced biology
- Critical thinking
State law requires additional clinical hours to be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN.
These hours may be in totally different settings than the LPN program or may be in the same areas. This all depends on the school's and state's requirements.
RN clinical areas may include:
- Intensive care units
- Medical-surgical floors
- Telemetry units
- Long-term care facilities
- Community health settings
- Psychiatric care facilities
- Neonatal ICU
Why Are Clinical Hours Important for Nurses?
Clinical hours are intended to apply classroom teaching to the "real world." Learning about a disease in a textbook and then actually taking care of a patient who has this disease are two very different things.
Textbooks teach the nursing student about a disease process by discussing:
- Signs and symptoms
- Disease characteristics
- Nursing implications of the disease process, such as:
- Risks for skin breakdown
- Nutritional status
- Airway management
- Barriers to discharge
Clinical hours are intended to apply these abstract ideas to the practical use of patient care. The nursing student will solidify learning during supervised clinical rotations and put a human aspect to textbook disease processes.
Once the ADN or BSN is completed, the nurse may take the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for state licensure as an RN. This allows the nurse to apply for employment.
Many students network and explore employment opportunities during RN clinicals. This is a great way to find a job post-graduation. Networking with the nurse managers by asking for contact information and permission to contact upon graduation is a great start.
OTHER RN BRIDGE PROGRAMS