Based on my LVN experience, am I qualified to sit for RN boards?

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I have been an LVN 25 years and Was in an RN program 40 years ago I completed 1 and 1/2 years of a 2 year program. I have since earned my BA in Human development and obtained IV certification. For 6 years I was an LVN instructor. Currently I am a CNA instructor. I have also worked in Vacaville at CMF for 5 years in DMH (Vacaville State Prison) department of mental health. Would I qualify to sit for the RN state board?

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Assuming you are located in California, it is recommended that you contact the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) to get specific information regarding your situation. However, if you are in a different state, you should contact the Board of Nursing (BON) in your respective state.

The state BON or the CA BRN is the source of RN licensing information and has regulatory authority over applications.

Here's a couple thoughts as you get started:

Your work experience as an LVN may or may not meet all the clinical requirements, which will be decided on an individual basis. You may be required to take clinical practice training in some areas.

You will likely need to take additional educational courses, as a program completed 40 years ago may not fulfill current requirements. Holding a Bachelor of Arts degree does not exempt you from taking the required courses to become a registered nurse (RN).

There is a unique CA 30 unit option for LVNs, which may help you and states verbatim:


A copy of your current license to practice as a Licensed Vocational Nurse is required, as well as the year first licensed.

• Following LVN licensure, you must have completed professional registered nursing courses in a California school accredited by the Board beyond the first year, which includes theory with concurrent clinical practice in advanced medical-surgical, mental health, psychiatric, and geriatric nursing, physiology, and Microbiology.

• Courses required for vocational nurse licensure do not count toward fulfillment of the additional RN educational requirements.

However, RNs licensed in CA via the LVN-30 unit option may not practice as an RN in other states. The option does not provide a degree.

Here's some other options:

  • LVN to RN Bridge Programs. Some community colleges and vocational schools offer LVN to RN bridge programs. These programs typically allow LVNs to earn their RN license through a shorter, accelerated curriculum that builds on their existing knowledge and skills.
  • Credit-by-Examination Programs. Some institutions offer credit-by-examination programs, allowing LVNs to earn college credits based on prior knowledge and experience. This can help accelerate earning an RN degree without going through an entire nursing program.
  • Work Experience. In some cases, LVNs with extensive work experience may be eligible to challenge the NCLEX-RN exam directly without completing additional coursework. However, this option typically requires meeting specific eligibility criteria set by the California Board of Registered Nursing.
  • Online RN Programs. There are online RN programs available that may offer flexible scheduling options for working LVNs. These programs allow students to complete coursework online and may provide clinical placements in their local area.

Depending on the program, it could take 8-9 months to a year and a half. Depending on how many more years you plan to practice, it could be worthwhile.

Before pursuing any of these options, it's essential to research and verify the accreditation and legitimacy of the program or institution offering the pathway to becoming an RN. Ensure the BRN recognizes the school- here's an approved list of schools.

The website does not cover all the nuances that may apply to your specific situation. So, it's best to visit the CA BRN website, create an account, and begin your application process to obtain all the necessary information.

I know this may not be the answer you were hoping for, but I hope this helps you decide what to do moving forward.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth