Now that you have been working as an LPN for some time you may be thinking that it is time to move on and become and RN. These programs can, however, be lengthy, that is why LPN to RN fast track programs exist.
The reason why you may want to take this qualification is because, as RNs require a higher level of education, they are also more highly valued in the work place. It is therefore in your best interests to become an RN. There are a number of benefits:
- You will earn more money
- You will earn more respect
- You will have a higher level of self-confidence
The reason to specifically take a fast track program is that it is, as the name suggests, faster. In most LPN to RN programs you end up repeating coursework and so on that you already did when you trained to become an LPN. With a fast track program a lot of this is skipped so you can become an RN sooner. You will be able to become a:
- School nurse
- Prison nurse
- Nursing instructor
- Clinic nurse
- Camp nurse
- Cruise ship nurse
- Nursing educator
- Nursing manager
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You will also have the opportunity to work in a wide array of different specialized areas, including:
- Emergency medicine
- Intensive care
- Acute care
- Continuing care
There are many other areas to choose from as well if you would like to specialize. In fact there is something to suit the personality and career goals of just about anyone who wants to be a Registered Nurse.
You will need to decide what degree you would like to hold as an RN. You have the following options:
- Become a registered nurse with an Associate’s degree
- Become a registered nurse with a Bachelor’s degree
- Become a registered nurse with a Master’s degree
Each of these degrees is a step up from the one before, and each comes with more job opportunities and higher salaries. When looking into LPN to RN fast track programs, consider only those that ending the degree that you are interested in obtaining. If you don’t, you will have to take a separate program to achieve your educational goals.
How To Qualify For LPN To RN Programs
To do fast track LPN to RN programs you have to hold an LPN qualification. This is the first and most basic qualifying criteria before you can enroll in one of these programs. In addition your LPN license must be current. LPN programs need to be completed separately, if you are not already an LPN, and can take about a year to finish. Some fast track programs require that you have a certain amount of work experience as an LPN before you can enroll. For most nurses this is not a problem as they have already been working as LPNs for a while. It is wise to find out what the requirements are well in advance to actually applying for enrollment at a school. In addition there are programs that will also require the following:
- You may need to prove that you are competent in some basic nursing tasks before they will consider your application (such as medication administration, post-partum care, glucose monitoring, and specimen collection).
- Some of the schools that you may be interested in could require you to complete certain prerequisite courses (such as English composition, psychology, math and anatomy) before you can enroll in the program.
Remember that some schools also have very strange policies where admission to the school is not the same as admission to the actual LPN to RN fast track program. At these schools you will have to apply separately for the school and for the program in order to get in. These are all things that you need to look into carefully before you take the leap and start applying at various schools. It will, at the very least, save you time and effort if you know exactly what prerequisites are required by each of the schools on your list.
Your LPN to RN fast track program will include both theory work as well as clinical practice. The theory section should include topics like:
- Surgical nursing procedures
- Pediatric nursing
- Mental health nursing
- Nursing leadership
- Newborn nursing
- Maternal-child nursing
The clinical section of your studies cannot be avoided and is necessary if you want to become an RN successfully. The topics that you could cover in the clinical side of your training include:
- Adult health
- Psychiatric nursing
- Surgical nursing
Before applying for an LPN to RN fast track program there are a number of topics that you may want to have a working knowledge of at college level. This is because these topics will help you learn the new work far more quickly and easily as they form an excellent basis. Topics include:
- Freshman English
Some of these will have already been covered in your LPN training depending on where you trained.
Benefits And Challenges
There are a number of fairly obvious benefits to doing a fast track program over a conventional program:
- You will be able to save a lot of time through a fast-track program. This is because you will not be retaking work and courses that you have already covered as an LPN in training. This also means that you will save money as you will not have to pay for as many years of school.
- You will become an RN sooner. This means that you will not have to wait as long as nurses in traditional RN programs to start earning more and having better job opportunities.
You may be surprised to hear that there are plenty of employers and organizations that want you to do an LPN to RN fast track program. There is a nursing shortage across the country at the moment and skilled nurses are in short supply. Consequently there are a number of scholarships available to ensure that as many nurses as possible are trained. In addition your employer may be more than happy to pay for your education as it will mean that they will have a more qualified nurse on their staff.
You also need to remember, however, that these programs are not for everyone. For one thing, as you are already an LPN, you will probably have to find a way to work and study at the same time. This is possible, but not everyone is able to cope. In addition you need to remember that you will have to pass the NCLEX-RN examination at the end of your program. This may mean that doing a full RN course may be better than a fast track program as it will provide you with a more comprehensive idea of what you will face on the exam.
Choosing The Right Program
When it comes to choosing between these programs there are a number of important factors to keep in mind. For example you may need to look into the number of credits that you are required to have in order to enter the program. Credits are earned from previous studies, such as what you would have done in your LPN training. Make sure that you have a good idea of how many credits are required by each of the schools you are interested in enrolling in.
You also need to consider where you are going to do the program. Many hospitals, for example, offer fast track LPN to RN programs. If you are already employed at a hospital as an LPN you may want to ask about this option. If you study through a hospital there will be no problem in getting the required clinical experience and hours. You will also be better equipped to be an RN as a lot of the learning you will do will be through first-hand, hands-on experience. Your second option is to work through a college. Just remember that colleges often require you to also completed courses in areas not directly related to nursing. These areas include things like humanities studies. Before you elect to enroll in a college you need to be certain that you are happy with the various items of coursework that you will need to complete through the college in order to get your RN qualification. Lastly there are free standing academic institutes to consider. These are the most expensive places to earn an RN qualification. On the other hand they can be far more flexible, something that could benefit a working LPN who is trying t become an RN through a fast-track program.
LPN To RN Fast Track Programs
There are a number of fast track programs out there, some of which you can complete online and some which can be done in a conventional face-to-face classroom setting. Each of these options has their benefits as well as their disadvantages. For example, in a classroom setting you will be tied down by a strict schedule, something that is far more flexible if you look into online fast track LPN to RN programs. On the other hand in a classroom you will be exposed to valuable interaction with lecturers and be able to engage in conversations with other students about the topics, something which can help you learn a whole lot more easily. Also when you attend a face-to-face program you will find that it is probably far easier to complete your clinical training, as there is a degree of clinical training that you will be required to do, even in a fast track program. Then again, online programs tend to be cheaper. There are a number of options for these programs out there, but the choice is limited.
There are not a lot of schools out there that offer offline LPN to RN fast track programs, but they can be found. Here are three of the more popular options. There are others to choose from as well which may be closer to your home or city.
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College
Fast-Track Program Coordinator
1201 NEO Loop
Grove, OK 74345
Lawrence Memorial /Regis College
170 Governors Ave.
Medford, MA 02155-1643
Florida Gateway College (formerly Lake City Community College)
149 S.E. College Place
Lake City, FL 32025
Your other option is to your fast track program online. Obviously there is a lot more flexibility in terms of which schools you can enroll in as you will not be required to go to a specific location. However it may be better to look for an online school based in your state as state-to-state requirements for becoming an RN can differ significantly.
University of Phoenix
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College
C/o Vickie Fields
Grove Higher Education Center
Grove, OK 74344
College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services
Indiana State University
Nursing Building Room 328
You should now be slightly better equipped regarding the decisions surrounding LPN to RN fast track programs. If you cannot find a fast track program that is nearby or that is of good quality, you could always enroll a traditional LPN to RN program. It will take longer, but at least you will achieve your educational goals at the end of the day. Remember that the school you choose to study for your RN qualification will affect you through the rest of your career in terms of whether your resume looks very good, or just average. Make the decision carefully.