Most LPNs are feeling the mounting pressure to earn a BSN degree, and why shouldn’t they? Every few months I see another news article about the increasing nurse shortage being felt all across Colorado, and the growing call for more students to enter practice with a BSN, and for licensed nurses with two-year degrees and diplomas to upgrade to a bachelor’s.
I recently visited coloradoneedsmorenurses.com where I learned that Colorado is facing a major shortfall of BSN-educated nurses. It’s estimated that we’ll have a shortage of somewhere between 4,500 and 6,700 BSN nurses by 2024 based on the projected demand, with Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, and Pueblo expected to be the areas hardest hit by the shortfall.
Colorado aside, you’re no doubt already familiar with the Institute of Medicine’s national initiative calling for 80% of the U.S. nursing workforce to have a BSN degree by 2020. If the proposal itself is not directly motivating LPNs to pursue BSNs, it is certainly doing so indirectly. Since its release in 2010, policymakers, universities, hospital systems, and other stakeholders in the healthcare industry have been collaborating to make this goal a reality by encouraging nursing students to enroll in pre-licensure BSN programs and by offering incentives to encourage nurses to go back to school to earn a BSN through accelerated bridge programs.
Better Futures Await Colorado LPNs Who Upgrade to a BSN
After making the wise decision to earn a BSN, Colorado nurses can expect more pay along with more opportunities for advancement and an increased scope of practice. Here are just a few of the perks you can look forward to once you’ve earned your BSN:
- Higher Salaries: The U.S. Department of Labor reports that LPNs in Colorado earn a median annual salary of $47,940. However, those that get a BSN degree and become RNs can earn upwards of $96,080.
- Prestigious Jobs: Some of the most coveted RN positions in clinical leadership are only available to nurses with a BSN.
- Elevated Patient Care: Nurses that earn BSNs acquire greater clinical skills which translates to better patient outcomes including lower morality rates, shorter hospitals stays, and lower health care costs.
LPN to BSN Programs in Colorado and Online
While checking out featured schools through the Colorado Board of Nursing, I found that the LPN-BSN pathway has three clear-cut goals:
- Transitioning LPNs from largely technical roles towards nursing professional roles
- Establishing the groundwork needed to prepare for graduate studies in nursing
- Nurturing leadership capabilities in the nursing field
To gain access to a LPN-BSN program in Colorado, several professional and educational prerequisites are often required. For example, at Colorado Mesa University applicants must:
- Graduate from a state approved LPN program
- Hold a current and valid LPN licensure
- Be IV certified by the applicant deadline
- Complete courses in English Composition, Human Anatomy and Physiology, General Psychology, and College Algebra
Core LPN to BSN Coursework Requirements
Since most schools strive to achieve the same high standards in BSN education, the core courses for LPN-BSN programs is likewise similar. In Colorado, these course include:
- Health Assessment and Promotion
- Advanced Adult Health
- Nursing Research
- Population Health
- Mental Health
- High Risk Obstetrics
- Nurse Leadership
LPN to BSN Clinical Requirements
Clinical skills training is a huge component of LPN-BSN programs both onsite and online. By exposing LPNs to various clinical settings that care for diverse populations, they can become better equipped to handle greater responsibility in challenging health care environments.
I discovered that LPNs usually obtain clinical training at local medical centers, hospitals, universities, public health departments, long-term care facilities, senior living communities, and other health care venues. Examples of clinical sites used by nursing students at Denver College of Nursing include:
- Aspen Valley Hospital
- Cerebral Palsy of Colorado
- Eagle County Health Department
- Good Samaritan Medical Center
- Life Care Center of Longmont
- Midtown Surgical Center
- Pinnacle Charter Schools
- Rocky Mountain Cancer Center
In many instances, students are able to take care of the clinical rotations required of their LPN-BSN program right at their current place of employment since many healthcare facilities have partner-practice agreements in place with area schools.
Colorado’s Commitment to Encouraging LPNs to Earn a BSN
On March 24, 2018 Colorado legislators passed House Bill 18-1086 which allows community and technical colleges that traditionally only offer career diplomas and two-year degree programs to provide BSN degree options. This means the 13 community colleges in Colorado now have the freedom to create 4-year BSN degree program, which includes more LPN-BSN options.
By placing more BSN programs in the hands on these schools, students now have access to more cost-effective educational opportunities, alleviating the financial strain previously felt at larger universities and colleges.
According to coloradoneedsmorenureses.com, these new BSN degrees with also offer more flexible class schedules and stackable programs that will enable students to receive their RN licensure at the conclusion of their second semester. These considerations will allow students to hold jobs while completing their BSN degree, which will further enhance affordability.
House Bill 18-1086 is likewise meant to encourage schools to expand their existing BSN programs to include accelerated pathways such as LPN-BSNs.
How to Migrate from an LPN to RN License Through the Colorado Board of Nursing
Of course, one of the primary goals of graduating from an approved LPN-BSN degree program is qualifying for RN licensure, which comes with plenty of perks, not least of which is a nice raise.
Here’s a quick guide to follow along the way:
- Apply for a RN license through the Colorado Board of Nursing.
- Register to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
- Receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) document and schedule the NCLEX-RN exam. through Pearson Vue. Testing centers in Colorado are located in Westminster, Greenwood, and Colorado Springs.
- After successfully passing examination, the Board of Nursing will issue a Colorado RN license.