What is the best way for an LPN to become an RN?

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Dear Nurse Beth,

What is the best way for an adult LPN to become an RN? I am 41 years old. I've been in the military. But I've been a nurse since 2005. I've been an ADON, restorative nurse, floor nurse, LPNAC, and I've done wound care the last 15 years. All at the same building. I would like to become an RN. But when I look into or, so many options pop up that it's scares me and I end up not. Please help.

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Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

157 Articles; 3,217 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear LPN,

It's great that you're considering becoming an RN. Many of us have gone from LPN/LVN to RN, myself included!

You're well-positioned to move forward with your extensive nursing experience and desire.  Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process:

Research Your Options.  There are various pathways to becoming an RN, including associate degree in nursing (ADN) program, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs. 

You might want to consider pursuing a BSN, as this degree opens up more opportunities in the long run, and you have many years ahead of you to practice.

Decide if you will get your ADN first and your BSN later or get your BSN straightaway. You will need to keep in mind your budget, long-term goals, and your work schedule.

Also decide if you prefer a traditional setting, an online program, or a hybrid.

Choose a Program. Look in your community to see what is available. Consider community colleges, which may even offer BSN programs or LPN to RN bridge programs. Keep an open mind and explore all of your options.

If you apply to a community college ADN program, ask if the college credits will be transferable to a university later on. In this way, you could get your RN, start working as an RN, and then apply to a BSN program for your BSN. 

You can also apply straight to a BSN program. You may hear the term "accelerated BSN program". Some programs can be intense and fast-paced, and may not be suitable for everyone, depending on your workload. Please take the time to review the workload and expectations.

Accreditation Please read What You Need to Know About Accreditation to know the right questions to ask regarding accreditation. 


When considering for-profit schools, be especially diligent. There are  some reputable programs, but many students have been taken advantage of by promises that seem too good to be true, while going into debt for expensive tuition. Read Scammers Selling Fake Diplomas.

When interviewing a nursing program, ask:

  • Do hospitals in the area hire graduates from the program?
  • Does the program have an agreement of transfer credits with higher-level schools to pursue BSN and MSN?
  • What are the graduation and retention rates?
  • What is the NCLEX pass rate? 
  • How many qualified applicants are waitlisted or denied entrance?
  • How many graduates find employment?
  • Is the program accredited?
  • Is the program approved by your state Board of Nursing ?

Meet Admission Requirements You will need to get official copies of your transcript. Official copies are ones you have to order and pay a small charge for.

It will be evaluated for course equivalency, possible articulation, and time limits of courses taken. 

You will have to take some pre-reqs. Common pre quisites include anatomy, physiology, Microbiology, and psychology. This could take 1-2 semesters to complete.

Some programs might also require you to take an entrance exam, such as the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills).

Some programs give credit for work experience.

Apply for Financial Aid Investigate financial aid options, including scholarships, grants, and loans. See if your employer will provide tuition assistance.

Prepare for the Transition Since you have been out of a formal education setting for a while, consider refreshing your study skills and time management techniques. This can help you succeed academically in the RN program.

Clinical Experience With your extensive nursing experience, you will be more comfortable in the clinical setting than most of your classmates. You will learn more skills, and most important, you'll learn the difference between the LPN role and the RN role.

Licensing Exam: Upon completing your RN program, you will need to take the NCLEX-RN exam to become a licensed registered nurse. Prepare thoroughly for this exam using review materials and practice exams.

Remember, while the process might seem overwhelming at first, your years of nursing experience have equipped you with a solid foundation.

In summary, get your official transcript. Decide if you want to attend a traditional, online or hybrid school and start researching available programs. Speak to admission counselors and you will soon be much more knowledgeable about your choices.

Take it one step at a time, and don't hesitate to reach out to nursing program advisors, career counselors, and fellow nurses for guidance and support along the way.

Your dedication and experience will serve you well as you embark on this new phase of your nursing career. I'm excited for you!

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth


ComeTogether, LPN

1 Article; 2,172 Posts

Specializes in Transitional Nursing.

Just out of curiosity, do you think that they will begin to consider more hybrid options given the need?

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