How to Become a LPN to RN
Starting out as a Licenced Practical Nurse (LPN), also known as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), and going on to become a Registered Nurse (RN) is an excellent nursing career path. By starting out as an LPN, you have the perfect opportunity to get your foot in the door of nursing and to get a chance to work and interact with other nurses at different levels and in different specialties. This way, when you pursue becoming a full RN you will know exactly what you're getting into and what direction you'd like to go in.
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LPN to RN Career Environments
LPNs take care of the basic nursing needs of the medical facilities they work in. An LPN will help patients eat and get in and out of bed, they provide information, feedback, and vitals about their patients to the RNs and doctors they work under, they help perform tests and assist doctors and other nurses with actual medical procedures. RNs make up the largest group of nurses in our medical system, providing care in a wide variety of environments and situations. A RN might help deliver babies, be part of an emergency room trauma team, be a diabetic care specialist, administer anesthesia, or even participate in legal investigations and courts. RNs generally have a specialty area with additional certifications for that focus.
If you start your nursing career as an LPN and then become an RN, you may continue to work in the same environment throughout your career. LPNs and RNs often work side by side in nursing homes and doctors' offices. Or, you may start out working in one of these facilities as an LPN, and move on to an emergency room, government office, or a school.
LPN to RN Education and Degree Paths
As an LPN you will need to complete a state approved course in practical nursing (most of these require a high school diploma or equivalent) and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) to become licensed. Such courses are very commonly offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational schools. When you are ready to continue on and become an RN, more and more vocational schools are offering LPN to RN bridge programs as the demand for RNs continues to grow. These are designed specifically for existing LPNs, and some are either fast-track to get you back to work as soon as possible, or are longer programs designed to be completed while you continue work as an LPN. These programs are associates degree programs, usually taking a year or more to complete. Again, you will need to take a national exam (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed and being practicing as a Registered Nurse.
If you wanted to go on to become a geriatric, anesthesia, neo-natal, or other specialized type of RN, you will most likely need additional certification in that specific field. Many online and physical nursing and vocational schools offer such certification programs, and the length and requirements vary.
LPN to RN Salary Potentials
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics the median average annual wages of a Licensed Practical Nurse was $39,030 in 2008. However, the average annual salary for a Registered Nurse was $62,450, with the top ten percent or RNs making more than $90,000 (according to BLS.gov). The demand for both Licensed Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses is high, but because of the amazing versatility and valuable skill-set they offer, making this career path especially appealing.
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