If you are a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) then you might be thinking of enhancing your skills by becoming a Licensed Registered Nurse (LRN).
The LPN to RN bridge online degree program is designed to provide an effective route from Practical Nurse to Registered Nurse by letting a Licensed Practical Nurse earn a higher degree in nursing. Once you have this degree then you can take the National Council Licensure Examination to become a Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN).
So is it really worth taking this route? Let's examine a few statistics to help you make up your mind.
All the available data tells us that there is a nursing shortage in the USA today and this is forecast to worsen over the next decade. The main reasons cited for the current shortage are an ageing RN workforce, a reduction in nursing educators and a significantly extended life expectancy for the population in general.
According to the USA Department of Labor, registered nurses are the single largest group of health professionals in the USA today. Although women make up the majority of these professionals, the ratio of men is increasing, as is the proportion of ethnic minorities. The average age of the RN is rising and the so called "baby boomers" (those born between 1946 and 1964) will reach retirement age over the next decade. What this means is that the number of experienced nurses leaving the profession will be at a maximum at a time when the demand is highest. It is forecast that in the next ten years more than 40% of RN's will be aged 50 or older. As an example, according to the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) the average age of RN's in Ohio is already 47.
With an ageing RN workforce comes an ageing teaching population. This will leave many programs with too few educated and experienced teachers which, together with the fact that nurses are entering the profession at a later age than ever before will only increase the severity of the shortage. It will be a significant challenge to continue to attract educated and experienced nurses into teaching positions when there is a general shortage of nurses. A study by the American Association Colleges of Nursing in 2001 showed that the number of graduating nurses taking the N-CLEX decreased by 26% from 1995 to 2001.
The end result of all this will be that there will be far more job opportunities than people available to fill them and the number of entrants is insufficient to meet projected future workplace demands. The retention of qualified RN's will become more difficult and this also means that improvements in benefits and remuneration will increase as employees see the need to develop and enhance retention strategies.
The population of the United States continues to increase. In 1890 only 3.9% of the population were aged 65 or over. By 2001 this had increased to 12.6% of the population. The end result is a significant increase in the number of people with acute and chronic illnesses and conditions which will require relatively complex health care. The average length of stay in hospital has also decreased significantly in recent years meaning that RN's have less time to deal effectively with an increasingly complex workload.
So, if you really want to enhance those skills and work in a marketplace that will increasingly value such skills then consider the LPN to RN Bridge Program. The rewards will only increase as the general shortage increases.
So what's the best way to proceed? If you are already a busy LPN then consider carefully how you will devote sufficient time to the RN program. Involve your family in the decision since they may have to help in juggling the demands of a busy family life. Also approach your Human Resources Department to see if they can offer funding for tuition.
The true beauty of an online program is, of course, that there are no rigid schedules and therefore it is much easier to fit the program into a busy working life. The problem with nursing shortages is that they can often leave nursing professionals covering for non existent colleagues and working over 80 hours per week. This leaves very little time to juggle family expectations, a demanding career and study to become an RN. An online course can make this much easier than traditional forms of study and you can study at your own pace and according to your own schedule. This means that you can also become a Registered Nurse while still working and earning. This end result is a benefit for both the patient and the aspiring Registered Nurse.