Should I go back to school for lpn?

  1. 0
    Hi folks, I could use some advice.

    I graduated over a year ago with a degree in studio art (which I'm incredibly proud of). During this year I've taught art classes, led an art club at an assisted living center and realized I don't want to teach art: I want to make it, and I want a career separate from it.

    I've been researching different options throughout this year; things I could do with my current degree as well as further education.

    Overall I've been (god this sounds corny) soul searching, and attempting to figure out what I really want.

    One option I'm interested in is healthcare.

    However I'm nervous to go back to school. Nursing was my second choice. However I was very naive when I went for my bachelor's and didn't consider the kind of career options I would have, if it would be fulfilling and if i would be able to make a modest living.
    I'm considering lpn school.

    These are my concerns:
    adding to my (not terrible but nothing to sneeze at) current debt.
    getting financial aid
    passing the pre-reqs (like A&P I and II)
    handling the class work loads
    managing stress
    having good study habits
    staying organized
    not failing royally

    I've also considered an ABSN program but I don't know if I can hack the intensity.
    I'm also worried about the lpn program classes. I realize no one say "yes I know you can do it" or "NOO you will fail", but I need practical advice. I don't know many of the details of lpn school, the intensity and realistic things I need to consider. I don't want my head in the clouds. Thanks for your help :-) Also if I can supply more details I would love to.
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  3. 16 Comments so far...

  4. 2
    I honestly think you should pursue an RN degree. LPNs don't make an excellent wage and are not able to do as much as an RN. I worked as an LPN for one year before becoming an RN and I was not paid enough for it to ever be a sustainable career. No way I could have paid rent, typical bills, and a car payment. And I was not living extravagantly at all. An RN degree won't take you that much longer or cost that much more and will yield greater benefits in the end.
    sueall and systoly like this.
  5. 1
    Nursing school involves a lot of hoop-jumping. Pre-reqs are nothing. Just a series of classes.
    LVN school was stressful for me. Not hard. Just...stressful. I worked and attended school.
    I think the stress is fine. Prepares you for the job. LOL

    Nursing school workloads are obscene...as it is for all majors of health science. Just wait til Med Surg and Pharm. It's just plain ridiculous.

    You won't fail if you stay on top of your readings and seek help when you have difficulty. If it helps, take comfort in the knowledge that you're not just learning random things to pass a test. It fits. It applies. It matters. You've gotta know your meds, period. You've gotta understand pathophysiology. When something's wrong with the pt, you've gotta figure out what's wrong with them. Can't help them, otherwise. You've gotta understand what a 'status change' looks like. What's normal and what isn't. What's this new event attributed to: their meds, foods, illness?
    So, do you call the doctor...or not?
    - Pt spewing projectile vomit after every meal. What do you do? What could be the cause? Fever? GI issues? Bowel obstruction?
    - Pt feels 'hot' to the touch? What do you do? What could be the cause? A fever? Are they on new meds?
    - Pt with no h/o seizure, has a seizure (<1 minute)? What do you do? What could be the cause? Low blood sugar, perhaps?
    You treat ailments and illness everyday. You will use what you will learn in nursing school every day.

    Study habits? I used to read the chapters during my breaks. Cut down on the amt of study time that I had to do at home. MNEMONICS did help.

    The slowest route (to RN or LVN) is the cheapest. If you want to fast-track? It's going to cost you. I know nothing about the BSN for people with degrees.

    LVN PAY?
    - Depend on how much you earn and where you work (hospital, HH, hospice, LTAC, SNF).
    Hospitals don't pay pooh for LVNs and you're not allowed to do as much there. In my area, the hospitals pay between 13-16/hr. That alone was enough to make me seek greener pastures. I earn $20/hr and work weekend doubles (16 hr shifts). 'Baylor'. For Texas, this is good. Not much money but when you're a novice - someone with 0-1 years of experience - what kind of pay do you expect? $50/hr? Could I earn more? Yeah. It's easy to pick up OT. I just don't want to work during the week. I've grown lazy. Additionally, 'work' and 'those people' drive me crazy. I run around all shift like a chicken with her neck cut off. Management's always bothering me to come in. Ugh. In the beginning, I was all gung-ho. These days, I seriously need the entire week to recover before I can go near that place again. LOL
    - Depends on where you live. COL differs. Pay varies. Houston nurses tend to earn more than San Antonio nurses, for example. Both areas are comparable in affordability to live in.

    LVN Duties?
    - Depends on where you work. At hospitals, there's a difference. LVNs at my facility do the same as RNs. They just earn $10-15/hr more for the effort. (damned right I'm hatin'!) LOL However, there are some areas/facilities where LVNs just push pills. Chained to the med cart. Like, at the state hospitals and such? I've heard that corrections is like this, too. Most doctors offices aren't that great to work for, either. Not for a new nurse. You don't learn as much.

    I have my LVN because, at my age (32), it's not cute to be a 'Professional Student'. LOL It wasn't my finances. I wasn't running to nursing to save me from anything. I was just...dying in pre-req hell. I just wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to get started and get to work. I went to a vocational school and banged an LVN license in a year.

    However, if you have 1.5-4 years to burn in school trying to get an RN degree? Knock yourself out. I wouldn't sweat it. You can get your LVN during RN school, I think. You can get your CNA and MA, too. It's experience. It's also a networking opportunity. When you hit nursing school, start looking for contacts. DO not wait until you're close to graduating to think about where you're going to work.

    An LVN designation is a stepping stone but it doesn't have to be. I'm mainly going RN because I want to be paid more, honestly. These days I don't care much about specialties or anything. I did in the beginning but ...11 months as a nurse has soured me on a lot of things. LOL
    So, I'm motivated to get my RN. That is all. 'Just' an RN-ADN or diploma. I'll get a BSN if the facility decides to foot the bill or when most facilities decide to pay BSNs more (than ADNs and diplomas) for the cost/time/pressure of getting one. Everyone 'prefers' BSNs but I surely don't see the pay rates going anywhere.
    I'm still proud to be a nurse, but...'whatever'. If I could wrap my feelings up in one word, it would just be a long 'sigh'. LOL
    sueall likes this.
  6. 3
    Quote from schnookimz
    LPNs don't make an excellent wage and are not able to do as much as an RN.
    This depends on the state in which you're practicing. I practiced in Texas, which has a wide scope of practice. If you're practicing in California, New York or certain Midwestern states, then yes, the LPN scope of practice is going to be restrictive.
    Quote from schnookimz
    I worked as an LPN for one year before becoming an RN and I was not paid enough for it to ever be a sustainable career.
    I earned good money during my four years as an LVN. 2010 was my last year of working as an LVN and my final wage was $27.04 hourly at a nursing home in a major city in Texas. Some of my coworkers earned $29.00 per hour for working the night shift. This adds up to $55k to $60k per year, which is excellent money for someone with a one-year diploma or certificate. Many people with high-priced BAs do not earn this kind of money, especially if they chose a major such as humanities, philosophy or art history.
    Quote from schnookimz
    No way I could have paid rent, typical bills, and a car payment. And I was not living extravagantly at all.
    During my four years as an LVN I lived in a newer construction house, had two newer cars in the garage, traveled by plane several time yearly, paid my bills comfortably and maintained a five-figure savings account, all as a single person without a partner. It all depends on your geographic region and how you manage your money.
    Quote from schnookimz
    An RN degree won't take you that much longer or cost that much more and will yield greater benefits in the end.
    There's no such thing as an 'RN degree.' It's either an associate of science in nursing (ASN), or the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), or the master of science in nursing (MSN), or the increasingly rare diploma in nursing.

    Although the RN license generally opens the doors to more opportunities, I would not be so quick to sneeze on the benefits of being an LPN.
    Last edit by TheCommuter on Jul 12, '13
    sueall, tae26, and BSNbeDONE like this.
  7. 0
    thank you all for your input, I appreciate it. schnookimz: that is one of my worries as well - that the pay will not be enough (rent + bills + student loans). That's definitely something I'm taking into consideration. Honestly the biggest attraction the LPN route has for me is the relatively quick program. I just knocked out a 4 year degree, so I would be 29 if I went back for a bsn in fall 2014 (or 27-28 the ASN route).
    Thanks for the info MedChica :-)
    If I could wrap my feelings up in one word, it would just be a long 'sigh'.
    Aw sorry! Do you think you'll go through an ASN or BSN program for your RN? Is working as an lpn different/harder than you expected? Disillusioning? Some details about where I live: I think the lpns in my area make a decent wage (rural northern indiana), and the cost of living is fairly low. Most hospitals around here don't hire LPNs, I think it's mostly clinics and nursing homes, but I'd have to research it!

    Thanks for clearing some of those things up, TheCommuter. So you worked 4 years as an LVN? Did you decide to go back to school after that?
    I would not be so quick to sneeze on the benefits of being an LPN.
    hm, thank you for that. to be honest I don't know if I want to ever be an RN, although it's nice that I would have the option if I wanted to. I'm not opposed to hospitals but I'm more familiar with assisted living and nursing homes (I love elderly people). Do you think being an LPN in the latter two environments would be less stressful than a hospital?


    thank you.
  8. 0
    Quote from bethanygreene
    Thanks for clearing some of those things up, TheCommuter. So you worked 4 years as an LVN? Did you decide to go back to school after that?
    Yes, I returned to school and completed an LPN-to-RN (ASN) bridge program three years ago, and have been working as an RN ever since.
  9. 0
    Quote from TheCommuter
    This depends on the state in which you're practicing. I practiced in Texas, which has a wide scope of practice. If you're practicing in California, New York or certain Midwestern states, then yes, the LPN scope of practice is going to be restrictive.
    I earned good money during my four years as an LVN. 2010 was my last year of working as an LVN and my final wage was $27.04 hourly at a nursing home in a major city in Texas. Some of my coworkers earned $29.00 per hour for working the night shift. This adds up to $55k to $60k per year, which is excellent money for someone with a one-year diploma or certificate. Many people with high-priced BAs do not earn this kind of money, especially if they chose a major such as humanities, philosophy or art history.
    During my four years as an LVN I lived in a newer construction house, had two newer cars in the garage, traveled by plane several time yearly, paid my bills comfortably and maintained a five-figure savings account, all as a single person without a partner. It all depends on your geographic region and how you manage your money.
    There's no such thing as an 'RN degree.' It's either an associate of science in nursing (ASN), or the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), or the master of science in nursing (MSN), or the increasingly rare diploma in nursing.

    Although the RN license generally opens the doors to more opportunities, I would not be so quick to sneeze on the benefits of being an LPN.
    Thank You!! I work as a LPN and I make a great salary and I am in Case Management something plenty of people told me I would never do as a LPN
  10. 0
    I am finishing my first semester of an ABSN program on 7/31 (15 credits). It is not as intense as you would think it is (3 out of 4 classes completed, all As and currently getting an A in final class). I quickly adapted to having no social life and got organized quickly. The next 2 semesters are regular semesters (fall and spring) both 15 credits. Then another summer (12 credits) and done.
  11. 0
    If you want to be a nurse, I would skip the whole notion of becoming an LPN and go back to school for your BSN. I live and work in Philadelphia. The major health systems here ONLY hire BSN nurses. Community hospitals and long-term care facilities in my area are still utilizing LPN's but in very limited roles.

    I have a BA in Anthropology and was able to complete my BSN in 18 months through an accelerated program for individuals who already had bachelor's degrees. There were students from many varied backgrounds and ages in my program. I have been working as a med-surg RN at a major medical center for over two years and am half way through my MSN degree.

    I wish the nursing community would streamline the path to nursing. It's ridiculous that you can have 1-2 years of education and sit for the same exam as someone who completed a baccalaureate program. Given the acuity of patients and the number of co-morbidities that people have these days, I feel it is essential to have a BSN. Nursing is no longer about how well you can perform a set of tasks. Critical thinking skills are paramount.

    Nursing school is tedious and hard and boring some of the time. If you are passionate about caring for other people, then you will get through it just fine. It will be hell, though, if you are merely considering nursing as an alternative to your disappointment with your current career.

    I see an LPN license as a waste of time in our current healthcare climate. No matter what the salary, I can't really think of any of advantages of being an LPN instead of an RN. If you already have a bachelor's degree, you'd save a lot of time and money finding a good accelerated BSN program.
  12. 0
    Quote from TheCommuter
    This depends on the state in which you're practicing. I practiced in Texas, which has a wide scope of practice. If you're practicing in California, New York or certain Midwestern states, then yes, the LPN scope of practice is going to be restrictive.
    I earned good money during my four years as an LVN. 2010 was my last year of working as an LVN and my final wage was $27.04 hourly at a nursing home in a major city in Texas. Some of my coworkers earned $29.00 per hour for working the night shift. This adds up to $55k to $60k per year, which is excellent money for someone with a one-year diploma or certificate. Many people with high-priced BAs do not earn this kind of money, especially if they chose a major such as humanities, philosophy or art history.
    During my four years as an LVN I lived in a newer construction house, had two newer cars in the garage, traveled by plane several time yearly, paid my bills comfortably and maintained a five-figure savings account, all as a single person without a partner. It all depends on your geographic region and how you manage your money.
    There's no such thing as an 'RN degree.' It's either an associate of science in nursing (ASN), or the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), or the master of science in nursing (MSN), or the increasingly rare diploma in nursing.

    Although the RN license generally opens the doors to more opportunities, I would not be so quick to sneeze on the benefits of being an LPN.
    .

    AMEN to that!!!!! My last year as an LPN ended June 2010 when I passed the NCLEX RN. My pay at the time was $28/hr plus the differentials! The only reason I returned for the RN is because economic changes which resulted in a lot of people losing their jobs and health insurance yielded a decreased census in the hospital where I worked, which then meant frequent cancellations of my shifts, not because I was an LPN but because I was a float LPN. The fulltime LPNs maintained their positions and hours even though they, as well as RNs had their share of cancellations, too. But as practically every nurse knows, agency and floaters are the first to be cancelled. Even with my then-24-years experience, other hospitals AND nursing homes were going through similar situations, so that made it next to impossible to find an additional position.

    Nursing homes canceling too? Yes, because the newly unemployed were taking their loved ones out of the facilities and bringing them back home, which caused their census to drop as well. It was a shocker to me but it wasn't necessarily all about the money for them. Some of those residents were there ONLY because families had to work and were unavailable to care for them. (The debate on that is a whole other issue).

    To the OP, just so you know, I made a great living as an LPN. It's not what you make moreso as what you do with it. I can tell you that even with the increase in pay as an RN, I took more cruises as an LPN and with the exception of not having to have someone verify my assessments, not much else has changed. Someone of the higher-degree holders still look down on the lesser degrees. Those attitudes will probably always exist and has NOTHING to do with the degree but rather with the person holding the degree.

    Would I encourage you to get the RN license instead? Yes, because you've already shown how you need more after having received a bachelors degree, thereby requiring more education and adding to your debt. I just don't personally feel you will be content as an LPN for long. If you must go to nursing school, I would recommend doing it once where you will have more options for a longer period of time without having to return to the classroom for a while.


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