A Guide to Online LPN to RN Programs
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Online LPN to RN Programs Guide
An online LPN to RN program is ideal for licensed practical nurses who wish to advance their career opportunities and nursing knowledge base. Licensed practical nurses act as assistants to physicians and RNs by taking care of basic nursing duties.
Online programs offer the benefits of flexibility and convenience, while at the same time providing an advanced nursing education that meets more of the demands of 21st-century health care employers. The following guide dives into the specifics of the program, including coursework, LPN to RN timeline, skills learned, and profiles of individuals who would be ideal for this type of nursing program.
Online registered nurse programs provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to enter or advance a career in the field of nursing. Quality online RN programs should be affordable and accredited while providing a platform for academic success. We have ranked the top LPN to RN online programs based on our comprehensive methodology to help students find the nation’s best online nursing degrees.
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Online LPN to RN Timeline
Typically, students can expect to complete approximately 70 credit hours of coursework during an LPN to RN program, which can take 1.5 to 2 years of full-time study to complete. However, the overall length of time required for graduation depends on the individual’s educational history, the demands of the particular program, and the personal circumstances of the student.
This is when the prospective student takes the time to research the various available online programs and determine which one is the best match. The student will also complete the application and go through the admissions process, which can vary from program to program and school to school, but most likely involve the following elements:
Submission of official transcripts
Completion of placement testing or entrance exams
Submission of supporting documents such as letters of recommendation (personal and professional), employer verification letter, proof of LPN licensure, and copies of a signed, current CPR card from the American Heart Association or American Red Cross
Completion of prerequisites coursework, usually with a GPA of 2.5 or better
LPN to RN Tools
Students who enroll in an LPN to RN online program will not only receive advanced education specific to their profession, but they'll also learn how to transition from an LPN role to an RN role.
Prospective enrollees can expect a “bridge” education that covers the basics of moving into the position of a registered nurse. Students will learn about the role of a registered nurse as compared with other members of the health care team, the skills and principles needed to be a successful nurse, and how to apply basic nursing principles, skills, and concepts in practice.
Students can also expect to learn about advanced adult nursing techniques. This provides a greater understanding of care for adult clients, a better awareness of adult physiological issues and conditions, and the requirements necessary to restore psychological stability to patients as part of the nursing process.
Online coursework will also offer specific instruction on children and family nursing. This will include information about enhancing the overall health of children, working with children from culturally diverse families, and employing clinical best practices in a pediatric environment.
Enrollees will also learn about trends and issues in nursing. This instruction will cover current controversies and prevailing practices within the nursing community. The subject matter will be dictated by ongoing current events in the health care industry.
Upon completion of the LPN to RN program, graduates will be able to:
11 Skills Gained that Students can Acquire
- 1. Properly apply nursing diagnoses for patients based on various sources of collected data
- 2. Consider alternative strategies for patient care and select the best options
- 3. Work with entire families to achieve specific health care goals
- 4. Manage multiple patients in an environment with competing priorities
- 5. Appropriately incorporate available resources to maximize patient health care
- 6. Communicate effectively with patients and their family members as well as with other members of the health care team
- 7. Effectively and appropriately supervise practical nurses, nursing assistants, and other personnel
- 8. Incorporate legal, ethical, and professional behavior into every aspect of patient care
- 9. Provide nursing care to a variety of patients from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds
- 10. Evaluate and apply recent findings from nursing research
- 11. Use information systems to enhance health care efficiency and compare information from numerous sources
Meet The Expert: Keith Carlson
Keith Carlson writes an award-winning blog called “Digital Doorway” and has been a nurse since 1996. He is also a Board Certified Nurse Coach who works under the auspices of Nurse Keith Coaching, helping nurses and other healthcare professionals create satisfaction in their professional and personal lives. Nurse Keith is also the co-founder and co-host of the leading nursing podcast RNFM Radio.
Who Earns an Online LPN to RN Degree?
These programs are primarily designed for people who have experience in the health care industry and are also seeking professional advancement. Here are four profiles of students who would benefit from an online LPN to RN degree.
Student profile #1
Cory is an LPN who likes his job but doesn't love it. He really enjoys spending time at the beach or on the ocean while aboard a friend's boat. He also loves warm weather and the Caribbean.
One day at work, Cory learns that a popular Caribbean cruise line is hiring cruise ship nurses. He knows that he would love that job, however, he needs to be a registered nurse in order to qualify for such a position. Cory decides to enroll in an online LPN to RN program with an eye towards one day becoming a cruise ship nurse.
Student profile #2
Scott is an LPN who absolutely loves his job and enjoys a great professional relationship with his co-workers. However, he recently found a study online showing that RNs earn quite a bit more money than he does.
Scott would like to keep his current job while working his way towards becoming a registered nurse. He does some more research and discovers a few great LPN to RN programs that he can take online. Scott can continue to work in his current capacity as an LPN with a team that he loves while pursuing the online program. When he's done with the coursework, he'll have the opportunity to become an RN, earn more money, and enjoy increased professional mobility.
Student profile #3
Sheila is living from paycheck to paycheck as an LPN. She's tried to be as responsible with her money as possible, but the bills keep mounting. Now, she has an expensive air conditioning repair bill that will place an even greater strain on her personal finances.
A friend recently advised Sheila that she can earn more money as a registered nurse. Since she's already a licensed practical nurse, her friend informed her that she can take the necessary coursework online, along with local clinical internship placements. While some financial investment will be necessary, her friend told her that the higher salary she would earn as a registered nurse would more than make up for the cost, enabling her to live more comfortably in the future, with wider career opportunities.
Student profile #4
Janet is a full-time LPN. She is also a single mom, and is often required to work third shift. Between her career responsibilities, her obligations as a parent, and the general demands of life, Janet simply doesn't have a great deal of free time. However, she loves nursing and would really like to grow professionally. An online LPN to RN program is ideal for Janet because it will give her the flexibility to earn college credits towards becoming a registered nurse. She'll be able to learn from the convenience of her own home, so she won't have to relocate in order to attend classes.
The fieldwork that she's required to complete would be located at a local facility that's just a five- minute drive from her home. The courses she takes online will offer a level of flexibility with her schedule, so she won't be required to attend an 8:00 AM class every day right after working third shift. Finally, and most importantly, she'll still be able to spend time with her children, while creating a much more secure future for her family.
Coursework Topics for Online LPN to RN Programs
The full suite of coursework varies from school to school. However, there are certain courses that all nursing students should expect to take if they enroll in an online LPN to RN program:
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Covers the basic structure and function of the human body. It also may cover various diseases. Students should expect an equal amount of lecture and laboratory work each week.
- General Microbiology
- Covers basic microbiological principles. It includes an introduction to prokaryotic and eukaryotic viruses and microbes, microbial genetics, infection mechanisms and related defenses. The course will also address specific microbial diseases. Associated labs will cover safe handling of microbes, the aseptic technique, and a survey of specific organisms.
- Covers contemporary practices of diagnosis and treatment of disease. It also covers the recognized symptoms, signs, and etiologies associated with those diseases.
- Nursing Core Values
- Provides an introduction to fundamental nursing values. The course will cover key concepts of human care through values such as autonomy, human dignity, altruism, social justice, and integrity.
- General Psychology
- An overview of the basic principles of human behavior. The course will approach the subject from historical, perceptual, social, emotional, motivational, learning, and development perspectives.
- Human Growth and Development
- An overview of current research into the psychological development of humans. The course will focus on the various changes the people experience in the physical, mental, and social-emotional aspects of life.
What to Look For in an LPN to RN Online Program
Although online nursing programs offer a great deal of flexibility and convenience, they also present challenges to those unfamiliar with remote education. However, most schools that offer online LPN to RN programs have provided online educational opportunities for quite some time, learning from experience how to implement program that maximize student benefits.
Students who are part of an online program will find that most of their interactions occur within an online educational platform/portal, as well as via email. Individual, one-on-one interactions with professors and classmates are typically very limited, if not lacking completely. This is why it's important for prospective students to find a program that allows them to ask very specific questions of faculty members and administrators, so that expectations are addressed prior to application and enrollment.
Prospective enrollees should be certain that the programs that they're evaluating are properly accredited. An online LPN to RN program should be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or both. In some cases, students may find that their particular professional needs require enrollment in a program that has been specifically accredited by one of these two organizations. That's why it's imperative that LPNs who are considering a program perform the due diligence necessary to ensure that their career goals will be met.
Further, students who are on the fence about whether or not to pursue a full BSN may wish to consider whether the prospective college offers that degree as an online option as well. Once the LPN to RN program is completed, it's likely that the student will qualify for admission to a BSN program. Students who wish to retain the flexibility of remote education will want to be certain that the school offers a BSN program online.
It's also a great idea for prospective students to consider the placement rates of different colleges. The placement rate is expressed as a percentage of those who have completed the program and successfully been “placed” in a job related to the degree of the graduate. In this case, candidates will want to examine the placement rates for those who have already completed the LPN to RN program. Prospective enrollees may want to avoid colleges with low placement rates, or those that do not provide placement data.
Those individuals considering an LPN to RN program might want to research potential fieldwork locations prior to enrollment. Even though a great deal of online learning is academic in nature, there will still be required fieldwork for successful completion of the program. If the location for that fieldwork requires a long commute, then the length of time required for that commute could limit the expected flexibility associated with online learning. However, a college offering an online education with fieldwork at a nearby location could be very attractive. Again due diligence and research cannot be recommended more strongly prior to enrollment.
Best Online LPN to RN Programs
A two-year college based in Perkinston, MGCCC offers an LPN-to-RN program designed for summer entry. Students receive 14 credits at the completion of the summer introductory course, bypassing the first year of required nursing courses for the typical associate degree.
Required nursing coursework includes advanced concepts of nursing practice, transition to professional nursing practice, mental and behavioral health, and adult health. Students receive training in foundational science topics and also complete general education courses and electives. Learners complete clinical requirements at an approved location, allowing students to provide direct patient care and receive mentoring.
Applicants need at least one year of LPN work experience and must complete the enhanced ACT with a minimum score of 18 to qualify for admission. Without the ACT score, students may also apply with a minimum GPA of 2.5 on at least 21 completed credits. The department also requires the TEAS exam.
MGCCC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Located in Moorhead, MDCC offers an accelerated LPN-to-RN program that students can complete in 12 months. Students complete nursing coursework and finish with an associate degree.
Required coursework includes human growth and development, anatomy and physiology, medical terms, and a series of nursing review courses that lay the foundations for advanced work in registered nursing. Students complete clinical requirements at an approved location for hands-on training and to demonstrate skills mastery. Students must also complete general education courses required for the associate degree.
Applicants to the program need an unencumbered LPN license in the state of Mississippi with a minimum ACT score of 18 to qualify for admission. Students must also take the TEAS test.
MDCC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Based in Steubenville, Ohio, EGCC offers an LPN-to-ADN program for students wishing to transfer to a bachelor's degree program in the state of Ohio. Credits align optimally for transfer, and graduates gain eligibility for registered nurse licensure.
Required courses include advanced medical-surgical nursing, principles of microbiology, maternal health nursing, and nursing leadership and management. Students complete the general education courses and electives designed for the associate degree. Required clinicals occur at an approved location and provide students with hands-on experience in direct patient care.
Applicants must complete prerequisite courses in algebra, chemistry, and anatomy and physiology before starting the required courses. The program requires students to submit placement test scores, such as the ACT. Students must also possess a minimum GPA of 2.0, and a competitive TEAS score to qualify for admission.
EGCC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Located in Tuscon, Arizona, PCC offers an LPN transition to an AAS in nursing program. The pathway requires just three semesters, excluding prerequisite and preparatory courses, making it an accelerated program for nurses with extensive work experience.
Students take required nursing courses and work with local institutions to provide direct patient care within a clinical setting and receive mentoring from those working in the field. Licensed practical nurses with sufficient field experience may enter the second year of the nursing degree upon successful completion of nine credits of prerequisites.
The program chooses applicants based on a combination of GPA, HESI admission scores, work experience, and volunteer experience. Students must complete all prerequisites — including chemistry, biology, writing, and the ACCUPLACER reading assessment — at the college before applying for admission to the nursing program.
PCC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Located in Russellville, ATU offers an associate of science in nursing. Students take half of the required nursing theory courses online and half in person, making the degree flexible for everyone.
Students take courses such as lifespan development, introduction to professional nursing, theories and concepts for professional nursing, and pharmacology. Along with general education courses and electives, students complete foundational science courses in chemistry and microbiology. The program requires clinical rotations for hands-on experience in direct patient care. The program provides a clear pathway to transfer to the bachelor of science in nursing program at the Russelville campus.
Applicants must possess current unencumbered licensure as an LPN and must complete prerequisites with a cumulative GPA of 2.75 to qualify for admission. Applicants also need a passing score on the HESI PN exam.
ATU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Based in Wharton, Texas, WCJC offers a path for licensed vocational nurses to complete an associate degree in nursing.
Required nursing courses in the LVN-to-ADN program include life span growth and development, transition to professional nursing competencies, concept-based transition to professional nursing practice, and professional nursing concepts. Students take general education courses and electives in addition to nursing courses to complete the associate degree requirements. Clinical requirements occur at an approved location and provide the opportunity for hands-on experience in direct patient care.
Applicants must possess current unencumbered nurse licensure and complete prerequisite courses with a minimum GPA of 2.5 to qualify for admission. Students must also take the TEAS test with a preferred minimum score of 70% in reading, 70% in math, and 70% in science.
WCJC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation.
Based in Las Cruces, New Mexico, DACC offers an opportunity for licensed practical nurses to complete their registered nurse licensure with an associate degree in nursing. Students complete courses on campus with the DACC faculty.
Students take required nursing courses such as foundations of nursing practice, maternal child nursing, nursing leadership and management, and foundation of nursing skills and assessment. Clinical rotations offer hands-on experience in direct patient care and allow students to demonstrate skills mastery. Associate degrees include general education and elective courses, but students may transfer those into the program to graduate faster.
Applicants need a minimum GPA of 2.75 in all seven prerequisite courses and a satisfactory score on the PN-ADN mobility exam to apply for the program. The program requires current LPN licensure for eligibility.
DACC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Located in Pocatello, ISU offers an opportunity for licensed practical nurses to complete an associate of science in nursingand sit for the registered nurse certification.
The program requires two semesters of prerequisites before starting required nursing courses. The required nursing core coursework includes medical and surgical nursing, health assessment and lab, clinical foundations of nursing, and mental health nursing. The associate degree includes necessary general education courses and electives as well as clinical requirements for hands-on experience. Students must complete all required general education courses before graduation.
The program requires licensure as an LPN in the state of Idaho, completion of prerequisite courses with a "C" grade or higher, and a minimum overall cumulative GPA of 2.5 for program eligibility.
ISU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Based in Wahpeton, NDSCS offers a one-year associate of science in nursing designed for licensed practical nurses to earn licensure as registered nurses. Students completing the program can transfer into the BSN program of their choice.
Students complete foundational science courses such as microbiology and anatomy and physiology before moving on to required nursing courses. Notable nursing requirements include principles of nutrition and diet therapy, community and mental health nursing, complex nursing care, and maternal child care. The associate degree requires credits in general education and elective core as well as clinical options to gain hands-on experience. The program trains leaders in nursing and provides a pathway for transfer to a four-year program.
Applicants need active and unencumbered licensure as an LPN with a "C" grade in foundation courses and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 to qualify for admission.
NDSCS is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Located in Mission, South Dakota, SGU offers an associate of applied science in nursing for licensed practical nurses looking to expand their education.
Students take courses in general education and electives before beginning nursing requirements. Notable nursing core coursework includes an overview of practical nursing, professional development for practical nursing, nursing basics, and anatomy and physiology for licensed practical nurses. The program requires a clinical preceptorship totaling 180 or more hours, offering students the opportunity for hands-on work providing direct patient care. Students must also complete Lakota language and history courses due to their strong cultural influence in the area.
Applicants need a minimum ACT score of 18 or ACCUPLACER scores to qualify for admission. Students must also possess LPN licensure and a minimum GPA of 3.0 GPA to apply.
SGU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
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