I understand the need for formal education. I can be quoted all over these boards that I strongly recommend that all young people get their BSN right out of high school because it will give them the most career options.
I hear a lot of "heathcare has changed" and "patients are sicker" and how LPNs are not useful in acute care from kids fresh out of college who are repeating what their instructors are telling them. Perhaps in states where LPN scope is limited that is true, but there are states where experienced LPNs are still useful in acute care. I speak as a recently retired LPN of 54 years experience who worked most of my time in various ICUs. In fact, I was doing critical care nursing before we had an ICU and very sick patients were called "constant cares" where you didn't leave the bedside unattended...and the doctor was right beside you.
I had a full scope of practice. I pushed my own meds, titrated my pressors, took care of vents, HFOs, had Swans, IABPs, on Prima, ECMO (though LPNs did not train to be ECMO techs). My RN charge nurse took no assignment and covered what was not in my scope of practice. The charge nurse would have to check blood with me before I gave it and there were several IVP meds that she would also have to check with me. All of these meds and Blood products required two RNs to sign off. The biggest restriction to my scope was no initial assessment on admission and the initiation of the care plan and problem list and that I didn't serve as the patients primary nurse. Therefore, LPNs simply didn't take admissions. There were never more than 2 LPNs per shift, and that was rare to have two. All but one of the LPNs in my unit were veteran nurses over 50. With a full scope of practice,we did very well in critical care. The hospital I retired from no longer hires LPNs (unless in school for their RN or has some kind of "in") in the ICU and replaces retiring LPNs with RNs. The ones remaining are all exceptional nurses.
I realize that the day of the LPN has come and gone. BSN educated RNs are good for the profession. Higher formal education is higher pay and more respect. That said, I returned to school for my BSN when I was pushing 60 (oh to be 60 again!). I worked two twelves on the weekends and one eight hour shift during the week and went to school full time. I loved the sciences and math courses so much that I went on to take the pre medical level chemistry, physics and calculus classes....and I got Bs! I also enjoyed the general ed classes. The nursing classes were another story in that I didn't learn much that was applicable to what I did. In the end, I never finished my BSN. In the second to my last semester, my husband got sick and I stopped going to school to deal with his illness. Long story short-life got in the way.
Did the BSN training have an effect on what I did as a critical care nurse? I know my pharmacokinetics better, but that was from the pre medical level chemistry classes and the calculus more than the nursing pharm which didn't teach me anything new. I learned about research, but that helped me more away from the bedside than at the bedside. 99% of what I know about critical care nursing wasn't from my LPN program in the 1950s nor returing to school in the mid 1980s. It was what I learned on the job as an LPN, reading on my own, and countless conversations with the exceptional people that I had the good fortune of working with.
You say that LPN programs do not prepare nurses for critical care. I agree. I would also add that BSN programs dont' prepare nurses for critical care either. That preparation only comes with a lot of on the job training under the guidance of experiences nurses, three to five years experience, and a natural intelligence and inborn talent that no nursing school can give you. Its the kind of person vs type of formal education who is going to make it in critical care.
I shall depart on one last plug for the need for formal education. Nursing education has improved in many ways, but the quality of students has declined. In my day, women had fewer career options then they do now. Many very bright women of my generation became nurses. Now, sadly, we are seeing less and less of these very intelligent young women choosing nursing, and the quality of new grads isn't what it used to be. Perhaps with higher educational levels and saleries...we can attract better people into the field like we used to get in the days when our options were nurse, elementary teacher or secretary.
Best to you,