A practicing, licensed vocational nurse (LVN) has the opportunity to advance in the healthcare field to higher degree programs in order to fulfill career goals, to increase income and to satisfy the desire for more responsibility in the health care of patients. Having gained experience as an LVN, the candidate for a higher degree program may have already fulfilled the enrollment requirements for their desired advancement.
There are a variety of career paths an LVN may choose for advancement. We will review a number of them, including a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), a registered nurse (RN), a master’s program and a doctorate program.
LVN to BSN
The BSN is the most typical path for a student to become a practicing nurse. The BSN program is preferred by many employers because of the in-depth coursework required in the BSN program not achieved by other pathways. The attainment of a BSN will carry more respect from potential employers and greater expectation of a commanding salary than less substantial education programs, plus the added benefit of more employment opportunities and professional respect and status.
The BSN program without the advantage of a bridge is typically a four-year baccalaureate degree program. However, with an existing LVN certificate and accompanying experience, the LVN bridge program to BSN can be accomplished in a shorter period of time because the basic coursework for a BSN has already been accomplished in the LVN program and these qualifying courses need not be repeated. The BSN bridge program may reduce the time involved by 18 months or more.
However, depending on the offering institution, there may be some pre-requisite coursework not achieved by the LVN program and necessary to complete prior to qualification for a BSN program.
LVN to RN
The LVN online program to RN bridge program will qualify the existing LVN for an associate’s degree that adequately prepares them for the licensing requirements imposed for registered nurses (RN). Usually, LVN’s report directly to RN’s, so the added prestige of supervision is worth the effort of obtaining an RN license.
The RN bridge program will usually require 18 months to 2 years to accomplish.
LVN to Master’s Program
While there is not a formalized bridge program that would automatically reduce the time involved to obtain a relevant master’s degree in nursing, the education and experience of an LVN may count for qualification and academic credit toward a master’s program. The typical per-requisite for a master’s program is a baccalaureate (4-year) degree in a qualifying discipline, typically in a health care-related field..
The typical master’s program is a two-year process with little if any reduction in time due to LVN achievement.
LVN to Doctorate Program
There is no formal bridge program for a doctorate program either, and the doctorate program will also typically require the pre-requisite of a 4-year degree in a qualifying discipline in the health care field.
Both a master’s and a doctorate program will qualify the graduate for administrative management positions in a health care facility, or a teaching position in a nursing program facility.