From LPN to RN: How to Advance Your Nursing Career

Advancing your nursing career is an important step towards professional growth and increased job opportunities. For many licensed practical nurses (LPNs), the next logical step is to become a registered nurse (RN). With the demand for qualified nurses on the rise, transitioning from LPN to RN can open doors to higher-level positions and increased earning potential.

For LPNs, moving upward and onward with their careers by becoming RNs benefits their patients and themselves. In this post, we will explore the steps and resources necessary to make this transition and discuss the benefits of advancing your nursing career from LPN to RN.

Understanding the Difference Between an LPN and an RN

If you’re new to the nursing world, the differences between an LPN and an RN might seem unclear. Here’s a basic breakdown of the roles and responsibilities of each level of nursing professional.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

LPNs (sometimes known as LVNs, or licensed vocational nurses) provide basic care and are primarily responsible for the comfort of the patient. They can administer medication to patients, monitor IV sites, perform and document physical assessments, measure vital signs, and assist patients with changing or dressing wounds, among a myriad of other tasks. An LPN is supervised by an RN. 

Registered Nurse (RN)

RNs can perform all of the skills LPNs do, but they have increased responsibilities and skills including wound care assessment, measuring vital signs, developing a plan of care and wellness for patients, admitting and discharging patients, and performing and leading emergency response procedures.

In a nutshell, RNs supervise LPNs. While both care for the patient, RNs are trained to perform high-skill-level healthcare. They are also sometimes responsible for overseeing LPNs in their duties. This level of care requires additional education but subsequently brings additional benefits. 

Benefits of Becoming an RN

There are many benefits to advancing your nursing career from LPN to RN, including:

  • Demand: The AACN predicts openings for RNs will increase by over 203,000 positions every year for the next decade. More hospitals and other healthcare facilities are choosing to hire RNs over LPNs, as their skill level allows them to perform both basic and higher-level tasks. 
  • Pay: Nurses with a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, $16,000 more per year than those with just an associate’s degree. Most RNs will make over 35 percent more than LPNs at most hospitals.
  • Experience: If you’re currently an LPN, you’ve already gained experience when it comes to patient care. But becoming an RN will give you more hands-on experience as you learn a variety of technology, healthcare, and life-saving techniques. You’ll also gain management skills that will transfer to all aspects of your life and career.
  • Retention: Upskilling gives you an edge when it comes to employee retention. Most healthcare organizations will give you additional training and education to increase loyalty and retention, and job security is one of the perks. 
  • Patient Care: We know you didn’t become a nurse just to benefit yourself; nursing is one of the most selfless professions there is. The more you know, the better you can care for your patients. Gaining skills and knowledge will literally save lives. 

Steps to Become an RN

There are three key steps in order to transition from an LPN to an RN:

  1. Earn a degree. To be an RN, you will need a degree from an accredited institution. Most states require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in order to obtain a license, as these programs place emphasis on clinical experience. If you’re not sure where to start looking, the U.S. News and World Report recently put together a list of the “Best Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programs.”

If you’re already an LPN, many schools offer fast-track programs to help you earn your BSN in two years instead of four. Be sure and check their requirements; perhaps a “nursing bridge program” is right for you.

  1. Pass the NCLEX exam. Once you’ve graduated, you’ll need to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, also known as the NCLEX or NCLEX-RN. You’ll be tested on your knowledge of key areas of nursing to ensure you’re ready to supervise other nurses and collaborate on healthcare with physicians. If you’re ready to take this step, has 10 tips to help you prepare for the exam
  1. Obtain state licensure. After you pass the NCLEX, you’ll need to get a license in the state where you wish to practice. Each state has its own requirements, so be sure to check with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) on what the particular requirements are for your state. If you’re considering travel nursing, you can also look at a Compact state license to make your journey easier.

How SHC Supports Nurses

Here at Supplemental Health Care, we’re committed to helping nurses advance their careers through upskilling. SHC has partnered with the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) to help provide scholarships for NBNA members who are looking to make the transition from LPN to RN through a BSN degree. 

As the healthcare staffing company where caring hearts thrive, SHC knows that nurses make all the difference. Our team is excited to help you pursue your dreams of advancing your nursing career! Contact us today to learn more about LPN and RN job opportunities across the country.