LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)
From my experience, a LPN can do most of the work that a RN can do, but with several exceptions. A LPN cannot do a IV push medication, titrate an IV medication, take off doctors orders or take a verbal order, hang blood products, be charge nurse or make assessments in certain circumstances. In the hospital setting, they are rather limited in their scope of practice and work under the supervision of a RN. At the hospital I work at, there are not that many LPN’s employed there. I believe since the hospital is a Magnet Designated hospital, they are more interested in hiring RN’s. There are more LPN’s employed in nursing homes, doctors offices, and home health agencies.
The LPN program can take about 12 months. If you are limited in time and money and want to get into the healthcare field, the LPN program may be for you. If you decide that you want to go on for your RN degree, there are options for that. Your employer may help pay for your tuition. Some RN programs will give LPNs credits towards their Associates degree.
Some LPNs are happy in their role and do not have a desire to further their career. I have worked with some LPNs over the years who were just as knowledgeable or more knowledgeable than some RNs that I have worked with.
Back when I first became a nurse, if a RN was not able to pass the NCLEX exam for the RN, some of them took the NCLEX to be a LPN. When they passed the LPN exam, they were able to work as a LPN while studying to take the RN test again. NCLEX stands for National Council Licensure Examination. The NCLEX is the exam that all nurses take in order to get their licensure. I cried after completing my NCLEX exam, one of the more stressful exams that I ever took!
Registered Nurse (RN) – Associates and Bachelors degrees
Becoming a Registered Nurse has two educational options. One can take the associate degree route or the bachelors degree route. The associate degree route can take 2 years to complete, but it usually takes most students longer because of the waiting list to get into the program and completing all the prerequisites. The bachelors degree usually can be completed in the 4 years.
When I started as a new nurse with a bachelors degree, I was receiving the same pay as the associate degree nurse. I remember that some of the other nurses seemed offended that they were receiving the same pay. Some of the other bachelors degreed nurses also wanted to have BSN written after their name to distinguish themselves from the associate degreed nurses. Personally, none of this bothered me! I just wanted to make sure that I was not going to have a patient die on my shift!
The associates degree requirements upon completion will be about 64 credits. The Bachelors degree requirements a minimum of 120 credits of coursework. Some colleges differ on the minimum grade point average to be maintained to stay in the program.
There is clinical time and laboratory hours that each student must complete each semester. The clinical time is where you really get your feet wet with hands on experience, a great time to learn and observe. I remember feeling so nervous before every clinical rotation, but I enjoyed being exposed to what the nursing world had to offer.
RN to BSN
This is a program for Registered Nurses who have an associates degree in nursing already and would like to earn their bachelors degree in nursing. Some of these programs are module type programs where you attend class one night a week for 18 months. Some of these programs are also solely online and hybrid based which is very convenient for someone who works shift rotations.
BSN (Accelerated option) – 2nd degree BSN
The Accelerated Programs for Non-Nurses can be a 12 month long program. The is an accelerated type of program designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. I have worked with several nurses who have studied in this type of program. This is a very intense program. Basically, you are taking 1 year to complete what most regular bachelor degreed nurses would be taking in 2 years. It is harder to work in this type of program as the work load keeps you extremely busy. The trade off is that you complete this program in 1 year.