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Can an LVN to BSN negotiate higher starting pay?

by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Educator Columnist Innovator Expert Nurse

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Dear Nurse Beth,

I've had my LVN for 15 years now and will be graduating with my BSN in December. I would like to find a job at a hospital as an RN, how can I best negotiate pay? Starting hourly rate is close to what I get paid as an LVN. Do most hospitals take into account LVN experience? Thank you! 

Dear Graduating with BSN,

Congrats to you!

Hospitals have a set rate for new grad RNs. Basically there is no negotiation because  a new grad, without experience, has no bargaining power.

While you have gained experience as an LVN, to an employer, you are still brand new as an RN. While many skills overlap, it is a different role. 

In one sense, your orientation may include fewer "firsts". You may be very comfortable inserting an NGT, starting IVs, and so on. Other aspects of your transition from LVN to RN require adjustment. Some LVNs who are accustomed to delegating problems upwards to the RN suddenly realize they are the RN and must learn to make independent practice decisions.

I would not make an issue of negotiating a higher salary. New grads are not expected to negotiate, and it could backfire. Depending on where you live, landing a job as a new grad can be competitive.  All things being equal, the job could easily go to the RN who accepts the entry-level pay offer.

Soon enough, you will be getting a raise, and the ceiling wages for an RN are far higher that the ceiling wages for an LVN.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth





Specializes in LTC.

OP's LVN says licensure in Texas or California. To my knowledge, I believe many Cali facilities are union. Union contracts dictate salary ranges, so there is most likely NO wiggle room possible.