LPN to BSN programs are designed for licensed practical nurses who aspire to hold administrative and leadership positions in the field of nursing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, BSN programs provide more clinical experience as well as additional training in communication, leadership and critical thinking. While LPN’s typically complete a one-year training program and pass the NCLEX-PN exam, a BSN program takes about four years to complete and prepares you to sit for the NCLEX- RN examination.
By enrolling in an LPN to BSN program online, you’re able to acquire the skills you need to become a registered nurse and reduce the amount of time it takes to obtain a bachelor’s degree. When evaluating LPN to BSN programs, there are five important factors you should consider.
Accreditation is very important when deciding where to enroll. Recognized brick-and-mortar and online programs should be evaluated by an accrediting agency. According to the U.S Department of Education, accreditation is a voluntary, nongovernmental process, in which an institution and its programs are evaluated against standards for measuring quality. If an institution is accredited by a recognized agency in the United States, its coursework, teachers, facilities, equipment, and supplies are reviewed on a routine basis.
By graduating from an accredited program, you can be confident that you received a quality education and are ready to sit for your state’s licensing examination. Accreditation is also weighed heavily by hiring institutions and is equally important should you wish to transfer academic credits to another program. To find out if a school is accredited by a regionally or nationally recognized agency, visit the sites below:
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology
- Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training
- Council on Occupational Education
- Distance Education and Training Council
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education (MSACHE)
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACIEH)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
When conducting preliminary research for various LPN to BSN programs, you should pay attention to who will be teaching the courses you’ll be enrolled in. Even if the program is online, professors should serve as mentors throughout the program duration and trusted resources upon graduation. Look for programs with professors who are well respected in the field of nursing, as they will help shape your career and nursing style. You can look for student reviews, patient reviews and professional accomplishments as indicators of success.
As a busy working professional, you should select a program that gives you the best chance of success by choosing a program that best fits your schedule. Depending on your schedule, you might require programs that offer flexibility. Can you drop from full-time to part-time on semester basis? Do you have to be in a classroom or clinical setting at a certain time? You should ask yourself these questions prior to enrolling.
Many LPN to BSN programs online will allow you to continue working full-time while simultaneously obtaining your bachelor’s degree. Additional benefits of an online education include:
- Convenience: Distance learning offers the flexibility to choose when and where you study.
- Quality Faculty: Experienced professionals with advanced degrees provide a rigorous education to prepare you for a challenging career in the healthcare profession.
- Self-Paced: Self-paced allows slow or quick learners to work within their learning style and pace.
- Advanced Technology: You’ll collaborate with professors, work on class projects, and chat with fellow online classmates via discussion forums and chat rooms.
Besides the online or classroom component of a BSN program, you’ll also be required to complete clinical hours. Clinical requirements make up a significant portion of a degree program and vary considerably depending on the program you’re enrolled in. It’s common that several clinical-focused courses are required per term. If you work a full-time nursing job like most other BSN students, you should take clinical hours into consideration when planning your schedule.
Online LPN to BSN programs are unique in that they offer a “hybrid” approach to learning by combining the benefits of face-to-face learning with the flexibility of distance learning. This way, students can complete their core classes online and fulfill all clinical requirements at a medical facility in the area. Notice in the graph before from Carnegie Mellon University shows that “online learning, when blended with in-person instruction, can dramatically reduce the time required to learn a subject while greatly increasing course completion rates:”
During your clinical work, you’ll generally be required to provide quality patient care including documenting patient history reviews, administering treatments, giving medications and evaluating outcomes. You must complete your clinical work successfully before graduating from a BSN program. If you’re completing the program online, does the institution help place you with a qualified preceptor in your area? A preceptor is an experienced and qualified clinician who facilitates and evaluates student learning in a clinical setting. You should understand the clinical assistance that is available to you prior to enrolling in your prospective program.
Both online and brick-and-mortar institutions offer unique and different experiences for their students. Have you thought about what you’d like to get out of the experience besides the degree? Does connecting with classmates matter to you? How about student organizations and networking? You’ll find varying levels of student-life initiatives with each program you research. In the end, it’s up to you to decide how much enrichment you prefer outside of regular instruction.
Besides accreditation, quality of professors, flexibility, clinical work and student life, there are other things to consider. Think of the things that are most important to you to ensure you’re enrolling in a program that’s a good fit:
- Does an distance learning program interest you, and if so, do you have the resources and time to dedicate to online courses?
- You might prefer smaller classes that provide individual attention, or you might prefer to be more anonymous.
- Maybe you prefer a program that also offers a master’s degree or an accelerated program.
Admissions counselors and academic advisors can help you understand what each program can offer you. If you practice due diligence to find a program that meets your needs, you’ll likely be happy with your decision – especially after you land that promotion.
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