In response to your questions about returning for your RN: I was an LPN for MANY years and decided to go back and get my BSRN. I ended up being a mentor to the RN students, and end result was landing a job with the University with free tution to pay for my Master's as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioenr , supervising the BSRN students later on.
You do have to have a bachelor's in order to enter a program of study for an advanced practice nurse as I have, so I recommend going for the BS instead of the Associates and then having to bridge.
I had graduated from LPN school in 1982, and practiced as an LPN in the critical care arena, home health, hospice, vent. units, and even taught medical assisting students for about 4 years. (As well as many other areas of nursing). I obtained every certification I could. Go for all that you can!!
What I love about the Nurse Practitioner program I am currently in is that I will graduate from this Decemer--- and I am able to spend taht quality time with my patients and educate them about their health. And as a nurse practitoner, you have prescritive priviledges, and get reimbursement from insurance. Our opportunities out there are endless. Where I live, ACNP's have opened up a CHF clinic run exclusively by Nurse Practitioner's, and it is phenomenal!! Many peolpe aren't aware of the role of the NP, so look into it if you have a good strong nursing background and think it's for you.
I am 42 years old, and if I can do it, so can you!! IT JUST REQUIRES ALOT OF DEDICATION AND A DETERMINED SPIRIT!
My advice: take your lower division requirements at a junior college, after first making sure they transfer (ask for an articulation guide from your prospective University where you plan to attend for your BS degree as RN to make sure). Then apply for application to upper division for acceptance at your local University. Having several years of experience is is the key, as it makes school easier. I don't advocate going from BSRN to ACNP (or any other NP track) without lots of experience.
Good luck to you!!