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LPN, RN Bridge, BSN? Confused

Nurse Beth   (382 Views 5 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

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Dear Nurse Beth,

I graduated from Syracuse University with a B.A. in Political Science in 1992. I’m interested in going into Nursing as a second career after being a full-time Mom. I want to take the most efficient route possible.

I think many of my liberal arts classes will satisfy nursing curriculums that I’ve researched, but I need to satisfy the pre-reqs. for any of the ABSN programs in my area in Pennsylvania. I also have a special circumstance of an impending divorce. My question is: is it advantageous for me to enroll in an LPN program, graduate in a year and then obtain work experience and then apply for a BSN program? Is an LPN certificate the same as a diploma? I see LPN-RN bridge and also LPN-BSN bridge programs. Which route is best after LPN for me?

I also see ADN. How does that compare? It seems if I do an ADN, it allows me to sit for the NCLEX. I see many jobs in my area for LPN’s and RN’s and BSN’s. But money and time are major factors for me. I definitely know I will have my sights set on the BSN, but it sounds highly competitive with my present credentials. I was just thinking if I become an LPN, I can cover some of the pre-reqs. and gain practical experience while taking other classes toward my BSN. Do I have to do an LPN-RN bridge program first? It’s very confusing. I really appreciate your help. Thank you!

Dear Confused,

I'm sorry you're going through a divorce. I had an experience similar to yours in that I was divorced, need a job, and took the LVN (LPNs are LVNs in California) route. 

Getting your LPN confers a license but not an academic degree. Successful completion of an LPN program qualifies you to take LPN state boards for licensure. 

A diploma is awarded to nurses who graduate from hospital-based nursing programs. At one time, all nurses in the US were diploma prepared, but now diploma programs are rare. Successful completion of a diploma program qualifies you to take RN state boards for licensure. 

An ADN program confers an academic degree (associate degree in nursing). Successful completion of an ADN program qualifies you to take RN state boards for licensure.

A BSN program confers an academic degree (bachelor's degree in nursing). Successful completion of a BSN program qualifies you to take RN state boards for licensure.

Job-wise, LPN roles are prevalent in skilled nursing facilities and more scarce in acute care due to scope of practice. ADN and BSN nurses perform the same role as bedside clinicians, but nurses with a BSN have more career alternatives down the road- such as Infection Prevention, Case Management, and anything away from the bedside.

Some hospitals require or prefer BSN applicants, others accept both ADN and BSN.

If you need to work and earn an income ASAP, the LPN route will get you working the fastest. From there, you can usually bridge into an RN ADN or RN BSN program. In my case, I graduated from the LVN program, took a couple of requisites, then was accepted into the third semester of my community college's ADN program. LVN training was considered  equivalent to two semesters of RN training.

From there, I earned my BSN in an online program and then my MSN from an online program.

Every state is different, but in PA you will find a similar, if not exactly the same, route from LPN to RN. I hope I've given you enough to get started and to ask the right questions. 

Keep two things in mind- be  very careful of non-accredited programs. For example, if you take an ADN program and it is non-accredited, make sure there is a an agreement with some universities to accept your college credits.

Whichever route you take, be sure to get your BSN. It's becoming the entry level requirement for many employers.

Best wishes, 

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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I’m so thankful and thrilled for your clear and concise outline answering all of my questions!  I’m only looking at accredited programs in my area and following up with the admissions counselors of those programs so I don’t run into credit-transfer issues.  You also gave me valuable information to ask them as well.  Thank you so much for responding so quickly!  It means so much!  I love this forum and am so thankful that I can join without being a nurse and get insight into the vast experience that others have.

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Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

15 Followers; 95 Articles; 1,912 Posts; 230,414 Profile Views

22 hours ago, Momita49 said:

I’m so thankful and thrilled for your clear and concise outline answering all of my questions!  I’m only looking at accredited programs in my area and following up with the admissions counselors of those programs so I don’t run into credit-transfer issues.  You also gave me valuable information to ask them as well.  Thank you so much for responding so quickly!  It means so much!  I love this forum and am so thankful that I can join without being a nurse and get insight into the vast experience that others have.

Thank you for your kind words! There are so many forums here, and the collective experience and wisdom is vast. We're all here to help you. Welcome

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I had a Bachelor's degree in another field, and got my super cheap ADN at a community college, many years ago. From there, I worked and earned my way up.

ABSN programs are available, but very expensive.

Honestly, LPN is a waste of your time, at least in my area. No credit is given toward the RN, and you start from scratch.

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Thank you, OldMaHubbard. I’m actually considering the ADN as well at a local community college, where I’m attending a nurse information session on 9/5.  Since the programs don’t start until the Fall 2020, I may take College Algebra, Chemistry & Biology in the interim simply because I’ve been out of H.S. and College for over 5 years. I’ve been reading that sciences have to be no more than 5 years old. Then I can pursue a BSN while Im working at a higher salary. I’m pursuing a job as a Pharmacy Tech, and certification in the meantime, as I’ve worked as such in the past so at least that will help with the upcoming Pharmacology class and familiarity with meds. I’m so thankful for your insight!

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