How to Transition from an LVN to an RN

Bridge in a city at sunrise

The advantage of enrolling in a vocational nurse program is beneficial for many people who want, or need, to start their nursing careers as quickly as possible. Once you become an LVN, you can start gaining valuable job experience sooner than enrolling in a four-year institution and getting your bachelor’s degree. Many students also discover that four-year undergraduate degrees are highly competitive and costly.

For those prospective nurses, an LVN to RN bridge program is an ideal solution. Working students and young people in general face a challenge when starting a new career as a nurse. Often, an LVN program offers more flexible schedules, accelerated certification, and aren’t quite as competitive as 4-year BSN programs. Getting on-the-job experience faster, as well as earning a quicker route to a new job as an LVN, may also be more appealing for all types of nursing students. For students who want to transition from an LVN to an RN later, we put together the following to help you understand how to manage that process.

Why Become an LVN First?

Older students who are in the midst of a huge career transition are already making quite a sacrifice by enrolling in school. An adult with a full-time job, especially if that adult is a parent or head of household, may want to consider the advantages of becoming an RN through the path of vocational nursing first:

  • Significantly Lower Upfront Costs
  • Accelerated Programs Get You Working Sooner
  • Gaining Job Experience Before You Tackle Your BSN
  • Immediate exposure to advanced specialties and job paths

Will an LVN Certification Count Towards a BSN?

Yes, a bridge program will accept an associate’s degree and credits towards a BSN. There are also bridge programs that enable you to go straight through from your BSN to your MSN. You will have to check with individual programs, or speak to the admissions counselor at your LVN program and inquire about area schools with LVN to RN bridge programs.

How Long Does it Take to Transition from an LVN to an RN?

The entire time it will take to transition as an LVN to an RN varies. You will likely have to take some prerequisites before enrolling. Full-time nurses who work and go to school will obviously need more time to study for any required entrance exams, fulfill prerequisites, and take entrance exams. Assume it will take roughly two years (or more) to get your Bachelors. Online bridge programs can often help working nurses become RNs more conveniently.

Are there More Exams to Take?

You may need to take entrance exams for some four-year schools. Once you get your bachelors, you will have to pass the NCLEX:RN to become a licensed RN. There are also likely “test out” exams that a bridge program will offer to help you get credit for courses; there’s no greater teacher than job experience, and a working LVN will likely be offered the opportunity to opt out of several classes by taking and passing placement exams.

Will Employers Pay for a BSN?

One good way to find out the answer to this question: ask the right person. Yes, of course, there are health care facilities that will offer tuition reimbursement towards a nursing degree. Nurses are in great demand, and employers are more eager than ever to retain strong, competent staff. So, when you’re looking for a new job as an LVN, tell the HR director or the hiring staff that you’d be interested in becoming an RN down the line and ask about what kind of tuition support they offer.

Have more questions about transitioning from an LVN to an RN or about BSN bridge programs? We’d love to answer them. You can also call our admissions counselors directly at: 310-559-0225.


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