The obvious reason that LPNs are interested in entering accelerated programs leading to a BSN is because they provide the fastest, most cost-effective way of gaining some of the most sought after nursing credentials out there: a BSN with RN licensure.
Healthcare facilities will always hire practical nurses, but according to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, the state will need four times more RNs than LPNs by 2025 to meet the staffing demands of area hospitals. And increased demand is synonymous with higher salary offers, as hospitals look to recruit new RNs and encourage LPNs on staff to pursue the training necessary to earn an RN license.
Of course, nurses aren’t required to hold a BSN to qualify for RN licensure. So why should LPNs spend the extra time and money to earn a BSN when they could qualify for the license with an associate’s degree? …
- Approximately 75% of RNs under the age of 30 are entering the workforce with a BSN as their initial nursing degree. As this younger generation continues replacing retiring nurses over the next ten years, the BSN will undoubtedly become the de facto standard. RNs with lesser degrees may struggle to remain competitive in the job market.
- National professional associations for nurses, nursing schools, and employers are all working toward meeting the Institute of Medicine’s goal of achieving an 80% BSN-educated nursing workforce by 2020. In fact, the US Department of Labor recently awarded Montana $15 million to help community colleges develop streamlined programs to make it more affordable for CNAs, LPNs, and RNs to earn bachelor’s degrees in nursing.
- Many nursing employers in Montana either require RN job candidates to hold a BSN, or show strong preference to those that do. Examples we found in the summer of 2018 include: Providence Health & Services, Montana Surgery Center, Community Medical Center, Shire Pharmaceuticals, and Billings Clinic. By earning a BSN, you’re giving yourself a serious advantage in the job market.
Getting Into an LPN to BSN Program, and What You Can Expect
Campus-based LPN-BSN programs available in Montana can be tricky to find since most are offered as an embedded option within the school’s mainstay BSN program. For instance, colleges and universities located in Helena and Bozeman give LPNs an accelerated pathway within popular BSN programs rather than create an entirely separate option.
A current and unencumbered LPN license is a typical admission requirement for these LPN-BSN pathways. In addition, some schools require the completion of prerequisite courses in anatomy and physiology, college writing, introduction to psychology, and college math. LPN-BSN programs are usually four semesters in length and prepare LPNs to sit for the NLCEX-RN examination upon graduation.
We’ve found that most LPN-BSN programs stick to a universal set of core LPN-BSN courses. You can expect these classes to cover various aspects of working with different patient populations, and in specialized roles and settings. Here’s a few examples:
- Adult Nursing
- Mental Health Nursing
- Child and Family Nursing
- Managing Client Care
- Psychiatric Nursing
- Urgent and Palliative Care
- Pediatric Nursing
- Nursing Leadership
LPN-BSN programs complement classroom learning with applied clinical practice. Although some schools use on-campus simulated labs, many choose to place students in actual healthcare facilities where they can learn from other nurses and medical professionals while caring for patients. Clinical training is the primary component of LPN-BSN programs.
Locations where LPNs could potentially complete their clinical requirements in Montana include:
- Central Montana Medical Center
- Livingston HealthCare
- Nexus Drug Treatment Center
- Benefis Health System
- Montana Mental Health Nursing Care Center
- Patrick Hospital
- Riverstone Health
- Billings Clinic
How to Migrate Your LPN to an RN License Through the Montana Board of Nursing
After successfully graduating from a LPN-BSN degree program, you can quickly and painlessly obtain your RN license. And since the Montana State Board of Nursing is a member of the Nurse License Compact, LPNs that earn their RN license here can also practice in several other member states.
Here’s the steps you’d take to apply for RN licensure:
- Register for the NCLEX-RN exam using Pearson Vue.
- Make sure your nursing school transcripts are sent to the Montana Board of Nursing.
- Submit an application for RN licensure to the Montana Board of Nursing.
- Receive an Authorization to Test notice.
- Schedule for NCLEX-RN examination at a test site in Billings or Helena.
- Receive your RN license from the Montana Board of Nursing.
Look to Your Employer for Help Covering the Cost of a BSN
Paying for a BSN degree can cause significant financial stress even though it’s a worthy investment in your professional future. The good news is there are incentive programs in Montana that are specifically designed to ease this burden. For example, the Institutional Nursing Incentive Program offers up to $15,000 through a four-year loan reimbursement plan for RNs that agree to work in a state hospital or prison.
It’s also a good idea to see what your current employer has to offer. It’s becoming more and more common for hospital systems and even smaller free-standing healthcare facilities to offer financial incentives to nurses willing to go back to school to advance their training and credentials. You may be surprised to learn that your current employer offers these kinds of programs in an effort to build a staff of more highly skilled nurses.