What are LPNs and RNs?
Licensed practical nurses, also called licensed vocational nurses, provide basic nursing care, such as taking blood pressure and bathing patients. A registered nurse takes on more responsibilities, with job tasks that include administering treatments and operating medical equipment. LPNs can earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees and take steps toward becoming registered nurses by attending LPN-BSN schools. For more information, see our registered nursing career page.
LPN-BSN Program Information
LPN-BSN programs are offered through colleges and universities and provide many options for working nurses looking to advance their education and careers. Campus-based programs may feature daytime, evening and weekend classes -- as well as part-time options. Hybrid programs combine online LPN-BSN courses with on-location clinical training, which is required of LPN-BSN students no matter which type of program they choose.
The time required to complete this degree program varies by student and school. Many LPN-BSN schools give LPNs college credit for their nursing education, which can reduce the length of study. Some LPN-BSN programs can be finished in as little as two and a half years of full-time study after prerequisite courses are completed.
LPN-BSN programs help prepare students for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) upon graduation, a requirement of all practicing RNs. To sit for the exam, candidates must have graduated from an RN program that is accredited by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Courses such as public health nursing and pharmacology help prepare students for the exam and their careers. Programs also feature general education courses in subjects like fine arts, humanities, technology and sociology.
Earning a bachelor's degree can provide benefits beyond preparation to become an RN. For those who want to advance their careers, such as by becoming advanced practice nurses, an accredited BSN degree can meet graduate school application requirements.
LPN to BSN Course Descriptions
Although LPN-BSN courses can vary by school, most programs share similar core curriculums. The following represent courses that are typical in LPN-BSN programs:
- Pathophysiology: Pathology is the study of diseases. Physiology is the biological study of living organisms' functions and parts. Pathophysiology courses teach students about the categories, diagnosis methods and complications of common disease categories, such as autoimmune, genetic, circulatory, cardiovascular, reproductive and endocrine.
- Pharmacology: Students learn about the major drug classifications and the management of drug therapy, including assessing patient age, lifestyle and other variables. The course provides a pharmacological foundation necessary in the field of registered nursing.
- Nursing Research and Theory: This course introduces students to the scientific process, including the steps of the research process, experimental studies, surveys and qualitative design. Scientific theories are examined through direct applications in nursing.
- Public Health Nursing: The study of public health nursing and its factors, including socio-economics and the care of individuals, families, communities, systems and populations. The course prepares students to become part of large-scale efforts to improve the health of communities.
- Age-Specific Nursing Care: This topic is divided into numerous courses, each focused on providing healthcare to the different segments of the population, including children, adults and the elderly. These courses help prepare students to provide adequate care to patients who, depending on their stage of life, require different approaches to healthcare.
Most LPN-BSN schools prepare registered nurses to work in general nursing care. However, some programs may offer courses that can help students specialize in a certain area of nursing later in their RN careers. Specialization training can be attained through practical work experience, as well as online or classroom continuing education courses, workshops or conferences. Professional certifying boards issue voluntary certifications in some nursing specialties. For example, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses certifies nurses who care for acutely and critically ill patients and the American Nurses Credentialing Center certifies medical-surgical nurses. Other nursing specialties include:
- Neonatal Nursing
- Psychiatric Nursing
- Emergency Room Nursing
- Pediatric Nursing
Related Career Options
LPNs who want to stay in healthcare but work outside of nursing can pursue alternative educational paths that can lead to similar careers. Examples of these careers include:
- Dental Hygienists: Clean teeth, examine mouths for gingivitis and other oral diseases, educate patients about oral health and provide preventative dental care. The job requires the completion of an associate degree and state licensure.
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographers: Use special imagining technology that utilizes sound waves to diagnose medical conditions, such as kidney stones. An associate degree and certification is typically required for this job.
- Medical and Health Services Managers: Manage a hospital's nursing or other department, a group practice of physicians, or a clinic. A bachelor's degree or higher is usually required in this career.
Links to Sources and Associations
Visit the following websites to learn more about the registered nursing field: