Licensed practical nurses who want to advance their career and take on greater responsibilities as registered nurses can enroll in a bachelor of science in nursing program. For students who are already licensed nurses, the bachelor’s degree program can be completed in less time than for other students because of their education and experience. Most programs take between three and four years to finish, which is about one year less than it takes for students in the regular bachelor’s degree program.
Licensed practical nurses are practicing health care workers who work directly with patients in a variety of clinical settings. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, but most require that LPNs complete an accredited educational program, which is generally one year long, and is offered by community colleges, technical schools and even some high schools. LPNs are responsible for taking tissue and bodily fluid samples from patients and delivering medication and other treatments.
Educational programs for licensed practical nurses combine classroom instruction in nursing, biology and pharmacology with hands-on experience in a clinical setting under the supervision of faculty. After completing the required coursework, LPNs must take the National Council Licensure Examination, a nationally standard exam that allows successful students to become licensed in any state. In addition to the coursework and exam, certain other qualities are necessary to a successful career as a licensed practical nurse. LPNs are often a primary point of contact for patients who are sick or injured, so they must have patience, compassion and physical stamina to manage the long hours and stresses of treating patients.
The extra educational achievement of a bachelor of science in nursing opens up a wide range of potential nursing career options not available to a licensed practical nurse. Nurses with a BSN can work in almost any clinical setting as well as in private industry employers such as insurance companies or case management organizations. Many nurses with bachelor’s degrees also go on to get more advanced degrees such as a master of science in nursing, doctorate in nursing practice or doctorate of philosophy in nursing.
Like all bachelor’s degrees, the BSN requires that students take a number of general education courses in subjects like social science, mathematics and history to ensure a well-rounded education. The BSN nursing curriculum includes courses in anatomy and physiology, nutrition, statistics and pharmacology. Depending on the program, students in the bachelor’s degree who are already licensed practical nurses might be able to take a clinical skills test and bypass some of the basic skills requirements that ordinary students have to take. At the end of the program, students are prepared to take the state exam to become a registered nurse.
Kate Prudchenko has been a writer and editor for five years, publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, and book chapters in a variety of publications including Immersive Environments: Future Trends in Education and Contemporary Literary Review India. She has a BA and MS in Mathematics, MA in English/Writing, and is completing a PhD in Education.