According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed vocational nurses, or LVNs, made an average of $40,380 in 2010, while registered nurses, or RNs, made over $20,000 more, at $64,690 annually. While some nurses at both levels make significantly more or less money, transitioning from an LVN to an RN usually advances your career. If you already have an LVN license, taking a bridge class allows you to make the move without starting from the beginning.
Before You Get Started
Although your LVN schooling should have included the appropriate courses you'll need to start your RN transition classes, review your transcript to be sure. Most schools require you to complete basic science courses, such as anatomy and physiology and microbiology -- along with labs for both areas -- as well as human growth and development, mathematics, English and psychology, prior to beginning your RN classes. Keep in mind that various transition programs may require slightly slightly different prerequisites.
Although taking the right prerequisite classes is key, don't expect to get into an LVN to RN transition class without working in the field. The classes you'll take during a transition program are intended for LVNs who have at least some practical, hands-on experience. For example, the Baptist Health System School of Health Professions expects recent graduates to have at least three months of on-the-job experience and LVNs who have been out of school for two or more years to have worked in the field for at least six months.
Not Just an RN
You may receive an associate of science degree as you move from an LVN to an RN. Although some LVNs already have an associate degree in vocational nursing, it's possible to work in this field with a certificate from a practical nursing program. Having an associate degree can make it easier for you to transfer into a bachelors-level course of study.
During the transition program, you'll have the opportunity to take an array of specialized nursing classes. Since you'll have the basic science and skills courses out of the way already, the curriculum is likely to include more specialized classes, such as women's health, mental health, critical care and pediatrics. These classes include lecture and practical components, giving you both the theory and the hands-on experience you need to work as an RN.