New grad RN with 26 years experience as LVN job hunting

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    I will be sitting for the NCLEX-RN in 2 weeks and I have been reading over posts on this site. I am a bit discouraged due to the job market. My question for everyone is there a way to utilize my LVN experience to not be considered a new grad? I have worked in acute settings, Military, LTC, home health and temporary nursing as an LVN. I am scared that I am going to be starting over and not be able to get a job. If I am unable to get an RN position can I still work in an LVN position?
    clsindy likes this.
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  3. 10 Comments so far...

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    I'm a little confused as to what you mean by asking if you can still work as an LVN if you don't get an RN position. Here, you can have the same position(if the unit will hire LVNs), but there are limits on what the LVN(here, LPN) can do, based on state and facility. I think your lengthy experience will be a one-up for you though. My floor has hired several LPNs turned RNs. A lot of units I know think of it as good experience. Even if you were not in the hospital setting during your time as an LVN, you have most likely mastered some nursing skills during those 26 years as an LVN that a new grad RN will not have. Hospitals will most likely see it that way. You have a handle on basic nursing skills, working with patients and families, critically thinking, etc. that a new grad who has no nursing experience will not have. I think you'll be considered an experience nurse, even though you are a new RN. The job market is tough, even for nurses who have had years and years of experience. I know of some nurses who have been RNs for years who are having a hard time finding new jobs, and unfortunately that's just how things are now :/ If you are unable to get in where you would like to right away, maybe you could contact a previous employer and ask them if they would be willing to hire you on with RN pay and duties. I hope you find something soon! Don't feel too discouraged and don't worry about being a new RN. You are not a new nurse, and I think it will be a benefit for you. Good luck on boards and the job hunt!
    joanna73 likes this.
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    Hello New - Old Grad,

    Come January I will have been a licensed nurse for 25-years. In January of 1988 I graduated as a Vocational Nurse and in 1996 I graduated with my Nursing A.S. degree. At the time of my second graudation the RN job market was slow and I contemplated keeping my LVN license active, just in case. I took a leap and let my LVN lapse just two months after I graduated my RN program while waiting for my NCLEX results. I have never regretted it.

    Depending if you are staying with the same employer or seeking a new employer there may be some differences in opportunities.

    As an LVN I worked in Long-Term Care.... as an IP RN I was working as a interim Director of Nursing for my long-time employer.... Never have I had a nursing, case management, or teaching job that discounted my nursing time just because I was an LVN for eight years.

    A friend also went through similar timelines for education in advancing from her LVN to her RN... during a slow hire phase....she had more difficulty than I did because she wanted to break into another specialty...going from LTC to Clinic Nursing....it took her about five months and eventually she became an Occupational Health Nurse.

    My advice.... forget your LVN license as your credentials for new jobs, highlight your "Nursing Experience" on your resume, and make sure to look at any job description / duty statement you are applying for to tune into their key words for desirable qualifications and make your application and resume reflect their terminology.... Most experienced nurses hiring other nurses understand that an experienced LVN to RN nurse has a skill set and understanding of unit flow and processes that a new grad RN nurse would not fully learn for a good year.... You are valuable.

    Best of luck! It is definitely worth it!

    Carol from California
    cienurse, joanna73, and toekneejo like this.
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    Thank you littlepeopleRNICU and cisindy, I had everything all figured out until I graduated and then I started seeing these posts by new grads and I guess nerves were getting the best of me. I have a lot of nursing experience like most ole time LVNs have. I am currently working home health peds and if I stay with them I am not even going to see a penny raise!!! (I'm in the suburbs of Houston Tx and making $22.07 on day shift) I guess I was hoping to move on to greener pastures but I will say good-bye to my LVN license and stay where I'm at, at least until something else opens up.
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    I was an LVN for 4 years (2006 to 2010). When I earned my RN license 2 years ago, the prevailing new grad RN pay rates at some facilities were actually less than what I had been earning during my final year as an LVN.

    So, to keep a long story short, some facilities do not give credit for previous LVN experience and others do.
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    If I were the boss, and all else was equal and I had to choose between you and a new grad RN with no exp, you get the nod every time.
  9. 0
    As much as you may not want to hear it: you ARE a new grad RN. It doesn't matter if you've been a LVN since the dawn of time--until you accrue that 1 year's experience as a RN, you're a new grad.

    That being said, I think you have a tremendous advantage over the typical RN new grad: you have a wealth of nursing experience behind you, and you will likely transition into the role of RN better than someone who has zero experience and not only has to learn her scope of practice but Nursing 101 as well. I agree with the others: play up your prior nursing experience and background. You sound like you could be an awesome candidate.

    Some facilities will consider your LVN experience and consider you for RN jobs that they might not otherwise look at a new grad RN for. Unfortunately, not every facility is willing to acknowledge LVN experience, or acknowledge it seriously. My classmate was a LVN of 19 years and still was not eligible for a RN job--at her current facility, no less!--without that one year RN experience.

    As far as being able to continue working as a LVN while licensed as a RN, first check with your state BON for the official ruling on that. If you are able to work as a LVN, keep in mind that some facilities will not hire you as a LVN if you also have a RN license. Then there's the confusing liability issue: if hired as a LVN you have to stay in the LVN scope of practice, but should something happen you'd be held to the standards of your highest license--the RN.

    Good luck!
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    Meriwhen, thank you yes you are right and that's exactly why I have found myself becoming a bit anxious as the time comes to take the boards. I have always wanted to be an RN. Life had taken me down a few obstacle courses but I had my LPN secured by 1987 and I have went to 5 different colleges (Do to my husband's job moving us around the country) trying to obtain my RN. With each move I worked in a different specialty, LTC, Military, Ortho, OFC., Temp staffing, and now pediatric home care. I have enough credits to secure a BS but it wasn't until 2010 that I was accepted into RN school and was allowed to stay put long enough to complete it!!! Like I said it has always been my dream but I find myself now a little melancholy at the thought of discarding what I've always done to follow my dream! I'm sure this will pass. In fact as I write this, I'm realizing that is all I needed - Vent and get it off of my chest so thank you!
    cienurse, Meriwhen, and joanna73 like this.
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    The fact that you are mature, with life experiences, AND nursing experience will be an asset for many employers. Part of the reason why some employers are reluctant to hire new grad RNs is related to the fact that those who are young and lack maturity (before I get flamed, yes, there are many mature 20 somethings) need to be taught how to adapt to the professional workplace, in addition to nursing 101. You already learned this long ago. Good luck!
    toekneejo and Meriwhen like this.
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    I began my nursing career as an LPN also. After three years of doing RN duties, I decided I needed to return to school. You should be able to find a job. Your experience as an LVN should help you out tremendously. You should be able to find a job without too much difficulty. Good luck!
    toekneejo likes this.


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