Why is this LPN struggling so much to get into RN school?

Dear Nurse Beth Advice Column - The following letter submitted anonymously in search for answers. Join the conversation! Nurses Nurse Beth Nursing Q/A


Dear Nurse Beth,

Am I too old for upgrading from LPN to RN?  I am almost 53 years old and I currently work as a LPN. I already had applied to nursing schools LPN bridge programs but each school I applied to has some type of obstacle to pursue my goal. My goal is to finish nursing school in 2 years, so by the time I am 55 , I will be a RN.

But through the years in the periods of my application to different schools, I am usually dissuaded because of their requirements that would take another year for me before entering proper nursing school. It's not actually 2 years as they advertised but 3 years because of the prerequisites and other requirements. To add to it, the requirements are challenging like Chemistry, TEAS, etc. One school has already accepted me but it takes for them 1 year after finishing the course before they can send you to clinicals.

For years I have been trying to enter nursing school and each school required me to do a difficult thing which I did but turned out in unfortunate terms. One example is a school that I applied and then mistakenly told me to take Psychology -Life Span Development and because the admissions director put it in paper as Psychology- Life Development. I took the prerequisite Psychology -Life Development instead of Lifespan Development which they require.

I spent more than a thousand dollars for a course that is not even required by any nursing school. So when I turned in my grades for that course, the admissions director told me I have to take Life Span Development and the intended goal I have to enter nursing school is this fall. But because of that incident, I am discouraged.

Another school told me that if I missed the application on this certain date, I will be in to the next school year and by that time I am 55 years old since I cannot enter the next year 2021 school year. I am so discouraged and sad about this because it has been since 2014 I tried to go to pursue my RN and it's been more than 5 years, I still am not there but only prerequisites.

I am starting to give up and feeling depressed. I am so old to be doing this. Everyone is telling me that I should go for it and never mind the age but for me age is a factor in nursing. If I start late, then I will only accumulate only a few years of pension or SS benefits. Plus the fact, my body is aging. And that is the reason why I want to be RN because I want to have varied opportunities aside from bedside nursing. LPN does not have that a lot of options.

I am giving up. I am so terribly sad because all schools I would like to go accepted me but wanted more from me. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications, I am a honor/Dean's List student in every school I attended to, I have excellent grades and I am a good and skilled LPN with 7 years of experience but fate is not on my side. Why is it so hard to enter nursing school in this country, USA? I thought there's a shortage of nurses and schools are persuading people to enroll in nursing schools. In my birth country, the Philippines, all you need to do is to pass the SAT , submit your transcript, have the finances , and then you enroll.

Here , why is it so hard ? Nursing school is hard , and so is applying for nursing school is hard. I don't know what to do and think anymore.

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear Starting to Give Up,

I'm sorry for your disappointments and feel your pain about being advised to take the wrong class. I remember when I was in school, the counselors were not trusted 100% and we students learned best from each other what classes to take. That's not as it should be, unfortunately, but when a counselor tells you something, double-check the facts in the college catalog.

I've always maintained college students should be awarded 1-2 credits just for navigating the system (that's a joke, but not really). It is difficult.

You have expectations of finishing in 2 years, but if you are going to pursue this, you have to adjust your expectations to the reality, see if the reality is acceptable to you, and then commit to the process. You expect that it should be relatively easy, but the reality is pre-requisites, pre-admission testing, and waitlists.

At the same time, I am genuinely puzzled as to why you are having such an extremely hard time. You say you have been trying unsuccessfully for over 6 years, and you've made very little progress. Do you see any of that as swimming upstream and a life sign that this is just not working out for you?  

Is it fate, as you say, or are you bucking the system? Or repeatedly following wrong advice? It seems you are trapped in some negative energy force that may partially be of your own making.

Here's another important thing to consider- without your BSN, your career options as an RN will be limited primarily to the bedside. If you go forward with this, you will typically spend 2 years at the bedside before moving into a non-bedside role- but most of those require a BSN.

I am really sorry for your struggle and frustration. I hope you can find some peace around your decision.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Specializes in Dialysis.

Truthfully, most BSNs are still at the bedside. MSN is now starting to be more of what gets away from direct patient care. But as Nurse Beth said, you've got to make that decision and start working on it

Also keep in mind that many employers will require a minimum of one year experience as an RN before they will consider hiring you as an RN.  

Your observation that there are difficult requirements, such as Chemistry, for entry to RN programs is wasting your mental energy.  Chemistry is also a requirement for RN school for those who are young and just starting out.  It is a requirement for probably all RN programs.  When you commit yourself to pursuing an RN education, you must commit yourself to dealing with the requirements.  If you don't want to make the effort required at this point, you might want to direct your energies to other pursuits.  But if obtaining an RN license is on your personal bucket list, then make the commitment, and keep at it.  

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CEN, CPEN, TCRN.

Time will pass regardless. It is up to you whether you make progress as time goes by. It sounds like you are letting a lot of requirements stop you before you start. Only you can choose to overcome these obstacles. Taking one wrong course isn't a showstopper. Why didn't you take the correct course and keep driving? There is also a CLEP test for that subject that is accepted by many colleges and universities. Best of luck.

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

If you had bit the bullet the first time you considered it you would be done by now.

Specializes in Pediatrics, Hospice and Dialysis.

Follow your dreams. You know what nursing is all about. A BSN may be required for most non-bedside roles in a hospital, but there are many non-bedside roles for any RN outside the hospital.  Home health, hospice, dialysis are just a few.  (Dialysis pays VERY well.)  Don't let the negative responses get you down. You can do it!

You seem to be really hung up on age 55, and it seems to be creating false barriers in your own mind.

If you are almost 53 now, you will be 55 in two years.  No matter what you do, two years will go by. The next year you will be 56, regardless of what you do. Now, you can do nothing different, and still be an LPN at that point.  Or you can get going on your RN, and either be an RN or be almost there.  Your choice.

So what do you want?  If you can't be an RN by 55, do you not want to be one at 56?  If you can't be an RN by 55, do you want to be an LPN until retirement?  If you'd kept going back in 2014, you would already be an RN, even if it took you three or four years to do it.

Hello, as I read your article I empathize with you as I too have felt that way until recently. Please don’t give up. Thanks to this forum I came across an LVN to RN Program in Florida, (International college of Health Sciences) I’m an LV living in California accepted into the program to start next month. They are fully accredited and endorsable in California where I reside. There’s no cut off period for your pre-reqs, & there’s a gap analysis test where you can test out of fundamentals, If you pass  those you will start in second semester. Please contact the school for further assistance. Good luck 

All RNs take those general prereq classes.  There’s really no way around it.  Chemistry, micro, life span, sociology, college algebra.....  all prereqs required for an RN.  

I agree that the time will pass regardless. If you are already a LPN, the actual nursing program left for you should only be a year.  So it should be a year of prereqs, then a year of nursing school.  

But I would research your area.  I think it will just open you up to more bedside opportunities.  

Specializes in ER, ICU.

Trying to navigate through your post, it seems more that you don’t want to do the prerequisites required and just want a school that will give you just a RN. That’s not how it works. Associates degrees and bachelors degrees have requirements they have to meet. It’s not meant to block you, it’s meant to keep their accreditation and keep their program respectable. As others mentioned if you want a hospital setting you’re likely stuck in a nursing home for a year as well. What are your goals for retirement? If you do want to get into a hospital you’re also looking at a mandatory BSN depending on how long you want to be there. Why? Because studies over 30 years have shown BSN nurses have better patient outcomes. It’s been demonstrated many times over in different areas. It’s just a fact at this point (ADN to BSN to MSN here don’t shoot the messenger)

Specializes in oncology.
Nurse Beth said:

all schools I would like to go accepted me but wanted more from me. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications, I am a honor/Dean's List student in every school I attended to, I have excellent grades and I am a good and skilled LPN with 7 years of experience

These are very positive facts and you should be very proud of them.  There are people out their who would kill for your achievements!

You have met some goals but other goals have alluded you.  Breaking into a nursing school is hard! There are so many moving parts and one poor choice can derail the whole plan. As you have found out an ADN is usually 3 years of education and that is pretty much established (for profit schools will try and take unwise short cuts and you will pay for those!) 

I wonder if you have been doing this backwards. Looking at what credits you have or could easily get and finding a program that fits those. You will only end up frustrated with that strategy and make no progress.

I would suggest you review 3 schools in your area. Find out what their NCLEX rates and retention rates are, maybe even the rate of employment for graduates. Choose 1 that you LIKE - things like where they do clinicals, actual time it takes to finish...those kind of things. Make an appointment with the nursing counselor in admissions. If no nursing counselor make an appointment and try to establish a rapport and note their name. You don't ask any nursing questions without talking to that person. An alternative is to talk to the Associate or Assistant Dean. Make definate plans on paper for when you will take each pre-req. This is your roadmap. Meet with your counselor every semester to review. Get the college catalog and READ everything about the program. Make note of deadlines for RN program application dates. Set up a planner or calendar. Attend any open house events. Smile and talk to everyone. 

With regards to needing a BSN/MSN for clinic jobs, that is not always the case in all parts of the country. Research your area. 

Best wishes on your journey. It sometimes seems to applicants that an RN program is a secret club and you can't find out the password. Just stay positive, consult you roadmap (and continually look for scholarships -- find the foundations office)

Specializes in oncology.
Bevann said:

Thanks to this forum I came across an LVN to RN Program in Florida, (International college of Health Sciences) I'm an LV living in California accepted into the program to start next month. They are fully accredited and endorsable in California where I reside.

NLCEX Pass Rate (International college of Health Sciences) 

Associate of Science Degree in Nursing

2019  79.51%

2018   79.07%

2017  72.73%

2016   58.82%