How to Qualify for an LVN to RN Bridge Program

Vocational nurses provide basic bedside care.
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Vocational nurses provide basic bedside care.

If you're impatient to start a career in nursing, becoming a licensed vocational or licensed practical nurse sounds like a pretty good option. It only takes a year or so to train so you can start working. If you enjoy nursing but want to practice at a higher level, you might want to qualify for an LVN to RN bridge program. These programs provide the remaining credits you'll need to become an RN, increasing your pay and your chances for promotion.

    Earn your LVN license first. That takes 12 to 15 months of schooling in an accredited program. Then you have to pass the national council licensure examination for practical nurses, or NCLEX-PN. Finally, apply for your state license.

    Get a job as a vocational nurse. Most programs expect you to have at least one year of full-time work experience at the LVN level before you decide to become a registered nurse.

    Look up the eligibility requirements for schools in your area with LVN to RN bridge programs. Each has its own list of academic prerequisites, usually including English, math and several science courses. You might need to take one or two courses before you can meet the prerequisites.

    Apply to one or more of the schools in your area with bridge programs. Some give preferred admission to graduates of their own LVN program or to LVNs with greater clinical experience or advanced certifications. Provide documentation to verify that you're currently certified in CPR and have all your immunizations.


    • Most programs are limited in size, and some are very competitive. If you're not accepted initially, many programs will put you on a waiting list for future openings.

      Some schools provide their bridge programs on a part-time basis so working nurses can learn while holding down a job and paying their bills.

      Most LVN to RN programs award an associate degree, but a few schools stream LVNs into their bachelor's degree programs.

      Practical nurses are referred to as LVNs in Texas and California and as licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, in other states. Their duties are the same, and only the name changes.

2016 Salary Information for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses earned a median annual salary of $44,090 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses earned a 25th percentile salary of $37,040, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $51,220, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 724,500 people were employed in the U.S. as licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

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