As a practical nurse, you already know that nursing is a rewarding profession that has the ability to exponentially impact the health of your community. But if you’re ready to move on to the next stage of your career, how do you identify the right LPN-to-RN program to fit your needs?
Maybe you’ve been out of the education arena for a little while now or maybe you’ve been planning to grow your nursing degree one credential at a time from the start.
Either way, selecting a nursing program is not all that different from choosing a college, though there are a few extra things to keep in mind. Now that you have some LPN work experience under your belt, here’s what you need to know when seeking out a professional nursing mobility program.
LPN-to-RN program: accreditation
The National Council for Licensure Examinations (NCLEX) has the same accreditation requirements for both the practical nurse (PN) and the RN versions. It is important to choose an accredited school that has met all of its state’s nursing board requirements so that your credits will qualify you to sit for the professional nursing exam.
LPN-to-RN program: admissions
Even though you are already a practical nurse, you still have to demonstrate your ability to be successful in an RN program. This may include an application, entrance examination and an interview with the nursing dean.
It is not uncommon for schools to require a higher pass-rate on their entrance examination for the RN program than they do for the LPN program. Don’t worry though, with the multitude of resources for the nursing entrance exam available, there is no reason to fear it.
LPN-to-RN program: classroom support
It’s important to think about what type of learner that you are according to Jolyn Brand, professional College consultant at Brand College Consulting. Ask the admissions departments of the schools you are reviewing about the size of classrooms and what type of support is offered for students. Many colleges have tutoring resources and extra support systems built in as resources for their students.
LPN-to-RN program: faculty
Another area to consider when choosing a nursing school is the faculty that will be teaching your classes. What type of experience do they have? Faculty with a great deal of real-world experience will be better equipped to train you in the real skills you will need to be a great RN.
Also find out if they have maintained connections in the real world. Their relationships could be a valuable asset for you to use in networking while searching for your new career.
LPN-to-RN program: location, location, location
As a nurse, you definitely know the meaning of a full schedule. If you are trying to balance classes, a job, parenting, daycare … it can all get complicated fast. Choosing a school that is convenient to all of the stops along your daily route can save you more than a few headaches down the road.
LPN-to-RN program: hands-on experience
As you probably know from your LPN experience, access to hands-on training is critical to a quality nursing education. The added responsibilities of a RN give additional reason that the more hands-on work you can do in school the better. Look for programs with good relationships with hospitals for your externship, state-of-the-art simulation labs and other opportunities to practice your trade.
LPN-to-RN program: online learning
Next, consider the types of learning modalities that the school offers. Does the school have some or all of their classes online? Enrolling in some general, non-lab classes online may help you to significantly cut down on your commute time by taking advantage of the convenience of learning online at your own pace at home. This can be especially important if you have several important things demanding your time and attention like children or a full-time job.
LPN-to-RN program: outcomes
The final factor to consider is the proven quality of the RN program. This is best measured through graduation and pass rates for the NCLEX. Recent changes in higher education have mandated colleges to share their graduation rates which are collected by the Department of Education and compiled in an easy-to-use application by The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Take a look and compare graduation rates to see if the program you are interested in measures up. NCLEX pass rates for individual colleges are public information as well and can be found by state through the individual state’s board of nursing website. The national average NCLEX-RN pass rate was 74.41 percent in 2013. Here are examples broken out by college for Minnesota and Florida.
To sum it up…
There many quality nursing schools out there to consider in your search for an LPN-to-RN program. The state nursing boards do a good job of reviewing the programs and ensuring they produce quality outcomes for students.
It is still important for you to do your due diligence and make sure that the standards of the individual program meet your needs and align with your desires for your experience. Factors like online classes, simulation labs, and physical location may be the tipping point for you if there are many high-quality programs in your area.
If you’ve decided to go back to school to become an RN, you probably already know that it is one of the most in-demand healthcare jobs in the country. Take a look at Rasmussen College’s nursing program and see how it measures up to your needs.