Ohio’s hospitals are looking for nurses. But not just any nurses. They are demanding nurses with more education. Even as far back as 2011, many of Ohio’s major healthcare employers were pushing for a higher level of education among nurses, encouraging at least two local community colleges to discontinue their RN associate degree programs. Still, other colleges, including Miami University, were proactive about discontinuing their two-year nursing degree program, and focusing their efforts on pre-licensure bachelor’s and BSN completion programs.
Fast forward to 2018, and it’s clear that the shift toward the BSN-prepared RN is still underway. In fact, Cincinnati-based Mercy Hospital’s recent job fair included openings for 40 full-time and part-time RNs for a variety of units, including the emergency department, the operating room, the cardiac unit, and the behavioral health unit. While applicants with an RN license from a two-year program are eligible for these jobs, it is the BSN-educated RNs they want, noting that ‘applicants with a BSN are preferred.’
For practicing LPNs like you who are considering returning to school so as to upgrade to an RN license, the choice of whether to pursue a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year BSN degree has likely been weighing heavily on your mind. You’re probably asking yourself if the BSN degree is really worth the cost and time commitment?
In most cases, the answer is yes. An increasingly complex healthcare environment demands better-educated nurses, and there’s a solid body of research showing that BSN nurses have better patient outcomes than those without this advanced level of nursing education.
The BSN is increasingly becoming the standard level of education for RNs, and holding this degree will position you for better-paying jobs in a variety of settings and with a variety of populations, and for jobs in nursing management and leadership. It will also allow you to easily advance your education to the graduate level if you’re interested in a career in advanced practice nursing, administration, education, and research.
Plus, there’s no better time to pursue your BSN than now, thanks to the emergence of many LPN-BSN programs, specially designed programs that allow LPNs to transfer in credits for their past education and experience that they can apply toward earning a BSN. Add to this that many of these programs are offered in a partially or fully online format to accommodate the needs of the working LPN, and it’s easy to see why these programs make returning to school for your RN and BSN both convenient and accessible.
What You’ll Get in an LPN to BSN Program
LPN-BSN programs are structured similarly to traditional, four-year BSNs, with one exception: They credit you for your past experience and education, thereby providing you with an advanced standing in the program. For many LPNs, this means completing a BSN in as little as 5-6 semesters.
You’ll qualify for most programs if you have a current and valid LPN license. You may also be required to have at least some type of nursing experience, but this requirement tends to vary among programs. Admission and/or placement into these programs if often dependent upon scoring competitively on a general skills assessment.
Which and how many credits you can transfer varies widely between programs, although generally, you can expect to transfer between 10-25 credits toward your BSN. The transfer policies also tend to differ between programs; some programs allow for the transfer of a specific number of credits based on your LPN license, while others will require the transfer of specific courses. Some programs may also allow you to take advanced placement examinations in lieu of completing specific courses.
An LPN-BSN program begins with the completion of between 50-60 credits of prerequisites in the humanities, social studies, and sciences, such as:
- English Composition
- Intro to Psychology
The rest of your credits will consist of the BSN core, which includes both classroom and clinical requirements covering diverse populations in a wide variety of settings:
- Foundations of Evidence-Based Practice
- Nursing Assessment
- Nursing Care of Families with Children
- Maternal and Infant Health
- Acute Nursing Care
- Community Nursing Care
- Complex Nursing Care
While many LPN-BSN programs are offered in an online format, you’ll still need to complete the clinical requirements at sites close to home. You may be able to complete some of your clinical rotations at your current place of employment. Just some of the clinical sites in Ohio include:
- East Ohio Regional Hospital, Martins Ferry
- Ohio State University Hospital, Columbus
- East Ohio Regional Hospital, St. Clairsville
- Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers, Bryan
- Mercy Health Urbana Hospital, Urbana
- Bellevue Hospital, Bellevue
- Wooster Community Hospital, Wooster
How to Upgrade Your LPN License to an RN Through the Ohio Board of Nursing
After completing an LPN-BSN program, you can apply for your RN license through the Ohio Board of Nursing. You must apply online. Because you already hold an LPN license in Ohio, you’ll click on ‘I have a license’ when entering the system.
Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll register to take the NCLEX-RN through Pearson VUE. One you receive eligibility notice from the Board and you receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) from Pearson VUE, you can schedule your appointment at a Pearson site close to you.
You’ll receive your Ohio RN license upon passing the NCLEX-RN.
Incentive Programs for LPNs Pursuing BSNs in Ohio
Curbing the cost of a BSN is likely on your mind. Fortunately, as a licensed LPN in Ohio, you may be eligible for everything from tuition reimbursement to scholarships to grants.
For example, the Ohio Center for Nursing maintains information on several opportunities, including the Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program (a loan repayment opportunity offered through the Ohio Board of Regents, State Grant and Scholarships Department) and the Ohio Nurses Foundation Scholarships.
Your employer may also offer a number of financial incentives for going back to school to earn your RN and BSN. For example, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Cleveland offers employees tuition reimbursement of up to $5,250 per calendar year for undergraduate courses and up to $7,500 per year for graduate courses. Similarly, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus offers the Tuition Reimbursement Program, an educational assistance program available to employees who have completed at least 832 hours of continuous employment. Employees here can receive reimbursements of up to $3,000 for undergraduate study and up to $3,500 for graduate study.