Adult nursing students are typically already busy professionals, many of them working in their career field as Licensed Practical Nurses. Some LPNs choose to advance in their careers and become Registered Nurses. They accomplish this by earning their Bachelor of Science in Nursing or BSN degrees. Online nursing programs provide convenient and flexible options that allow LPNs to continue working while pursuing their studies and advanced degrees.
Nurses who decide to advance from their LPN-to-BSN degrees through online studies can choose from a few options to accomplish their goals. Nursing students currently taking associate degree courses can elect to continue onto bachelor's degree programs immediately following completion of their current programs. Returning nursing students with LPN status can enroll in online BSN programs so they can continue working while they complete their studies for their new degrees. These students have the advantage of experience in the field and the availability of additional hands-on training opportunities. Many schools with nursing programs at the associate-degree level maintain what are known as articulation agreements with colleges offering bachelor's degrees. These agreements allow nursing students who have accumulated LPN degree credits to transfer them into BSN degree programs. Often referred to as the "2 + 2" option, this arrangement allows nursing students to apply their two years of associate degree credits into the BSN program and potentially earn their bachelor's degrees in under two years instead of the traditional four years.
Online LPN-to-BSN Studies
When choosing to pursue their BSN degrees online, nursing students should consider several factors. These include how the online platform works; what to expect in terms of accessibility to learning materials, grading and interaction with instructors and peers; and the type of coursework involved. For example, most online educational platforms include individual learner portals accessed by private log-in and password, which contain all of the learner's relevant personal profile information, course and program details. In this portal, the learner can find study materials, assignments, instructor and contact information and links to other academic areas. The nursing student can also find grading criteria and grade reports, and use the learning management system's features to engage or interact with the course instructor and fellow students. Many courses include assignments that require learners to post on a discussion board or forum, as well as respond to a number of fellow learners' posts. Examples of coursework in an LPN-to-BSN program typically include anatomy and physiology, microbiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and professional nursing concepts and ethical practices.
Accreditation for Online BSN Degrees
Nursing students should pay attention to two essential types of accreditation for their online BSN degree programs. Most importantly, a credible online nursing school and its degree program should hold and maintain regional accreditation. This designation indicates the school and its program meet the standards defined by the U.S. Department of Education and recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or CHEA. The CHEA maintains a list of six recognized regional accreditation boards based on their ability to meet and maintain "academic quality, improvement and accountability expectations." Nursing degree programs should also have the backing of the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The CCNE designation indicates the high quality and integrity of the nursing school and its nursing program.
Considerations for Online BSN Degrees
Nursing students participating in online studies for their BSN degrees should be aware they also need to complete in-person, hands-on clinical internships or practicums. These are typically mandatory for fulfilling degree requirements, as nursing students must demonstrate their ability to apply what they have learned during field training experience. By applying their knowledge in real-world situations, nursing students demonstrate their proficiency and competence in the nursing skills necessary for them to become RNs. This stage of the nursing profession typically carries a greater level of responsibility for patients, and may sometimes include supervisory or managerial oversight of other nurses or nursing students.