Go From LPN to RN in 6 Months: Find Accelerated Bridge Programs

Accelerated online LPN to RN bridge programs are a great opportunity for practicing LPNs ready to elevate their careers by becoming an RN. This guide will help you explore top programs so you can take the next step in as little as 6 months.

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James Mielke

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James Mielke is a freelance writer currently based in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to higher education topics, other areas of research and writing include food history, cooking, dining, and golf. James has a history degree from Belmont University and is an unapologetic fan of the Grateful Dead.

last updated

07/17/2023

Are you a licensed practical nurse (LPN) looking to advance your nursing career and become a registered nurse (RN)? Whether you’re seeking an RN certification to expand your clinical skills, increase your job opportunities, earn a higher salary, or embrace leadership responsibilities, an accelerated bridge program could be the right fit for you. Accelerated bridge programs allow you to complete academic requirements and earn RN licensure more quickly and efficiently.

The time-efficient structure of accelerated bridge programs makes them practical for ambitious LPNs, but just how quickly can you earn your RN license? You won’t find a 6-month accelerated bridge program, but these programs are uniquely designed to expedite the transition from LPN to RN, allowing you to complete your education and earn your RN license in as little as one year. The condensed curriculum focuses on building upon your knowledge and skills as an LPN, enabling you to get through coursework and clinical requirements quickly.

So if you’re an LPN looking to advance your career quickly, an accelerated LPN to RN bridge program is the streamlined pathway for you. Continue reading as we spotlight several standout LPN to RN bridge programs, explore the admission process, and lay out the timeline you can expect from your accelerated academic journey. Read on to see how you can quickly earn RN licensure and begin enjoying the benefits of this essential and fulfilling career.

Spotlight Schools: Accelerated Online LPN to RN Bridge Programs

Accelerated bridge programs offer an expedited and practical pathway toward greater career options and earning potential. Additionally, these programs allow you to hone the skills and acquire the certifications necessary to play a more integral, hands-on role within healthcare teams. Continue reading as we spotlight three standout accelerated LPN to RN bridge programs that can jumpstart your RN career.

ATA College’s 15-Month Hybrid LPN to RN Bridge

ATA College is a private for-profit institution that offers allied health programming. ATA has campuses in Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, and Oklahoma, and is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. Among ATA’s healthcare programming is a hybrid 15-month accelerated LPN to RN program offered at the Kentucky and Ohio campuses that prepares students for the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Throughout this 90-credit hybrid program, you’ll enjoy the flexibility of online coursework while getting extensive hands-on training through in-person labs and clinical experiences. Core nursing classes cover topics such as advanced pharmacology, medical-surgical nursing, maternal health, and mental health nursing. Before completing this program, nursing students also complete a four-credit integrated practicum.

If ATA sounds like a good fit for you, you can apply online. Your application must include TEAS, ACT, or SAT scores, and a negative drug test. Just keep in mind that ATA College is unlikely to accept transfer credits from prior college-level coursework.

Hutchinson Community College’s 3-Semester LPN to RN Program

Hutchinson Community College is a Kansas-based public institution that houses an LPN to RN online bridge program. In addition to preparing students for successfully passing the NCLEX-RN exam and RN licensure, this accelerated program prepares you to transfer to a four-year institution.

Accredited by both the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Kansas State Board of Nursing Accreditation, this 69-credit online bridge program offers the flexibility that working practical nurses need to continue studying while keeping up with professional obligations. Core classes include topics such as pathophysiology, complex care of the adult, and care of the family. While theoretical coursework is completed online, students also gain hands-on experience through various clinical experiences.

Prospective students must hold an active LPN licensure with verification of 1,000 work hours and have a minimum 2.0 GPA in prior college coursework. If this sounds like you, you can submit your application online. Alongside an online application

Missouri State-West Plains’ 1-Year LPN to RN Program

Located in south-central Missouri, Missouri State University-West Plains is a community college that offers an accelerated LPN to RN bridge program that students can complete in just one academic year. For students with the necessary prerequisites, general education, and LPN nursing programs, this program consists of just two semesters.

Throughout this accelerated LPN to RN program, students tackle theoretical coursework and advanced hands-on training, all while gaining the knowledge and skills required to pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Core classes include topics such as nursing care across the lifespan, adult medical-surgical nursing, and pharmacology. Before graduation, students also complete a capstone course that dives into the contemporary trends and issues in the nursing profession.

If you can see yourself pursuing your RN degree here, keep in mind that you must first gain admission into Missouri State-West Plains before applying to the bridge program. Applicants must include academic transcripts, proof of an active LPN license, a background check, and a negative drug test.

Applicant Requirements for Accelerated LPN to RN Bridge Programs

While applicant requirements for accelerated LPN to RN programs inevitably vary between programs, there are some consistencies between schools. From experience and prerequisites to professional references, these elements are key to getting into the accelerated bridge programs of your dreams. Keep reading as we spotlight some of the standard requirements you can expect when applying to LPN to RN programs.

Application

For many nursing programs, like the one at North Georgia Technical College, be prepared to submit two unique applications: one for the larger institution and another for admission into your nursing program of choice. Typically available online, the specific requirements can vary between programs. Expect the broader institutional applications to be more general, while the nursing program applications get a bit more personal. Nursing programs often require a background check and drug test. Regardless of school or program, be sure to submit an application that’s 100% complete.

Experience

Another common requirement for LPN to RN applicants is professional experience. This requirement ensures that candidates have the practical knowledge and skills that showcase a readiness for advanced training and the RN role. In addition to holding an active LPN license, schools like Hutchinson Community College require students to have 1,000 hours of professional experience. Similarly, Monroe College takes industry related experience into account when making admissions decisions. Most programs require applicants to have a minimum amount of clinical experience as an LPN, typically from six months to a year.

Prerequisites

Prerequisites play a crucial role when applying to an accelerated LPN to RN program. While these requirements can vary, many programs, including the one at the Community College of Rhode Island expect applicants to have completed courses such as anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. Additionally, applicants may need to meet minimum GPA criteria to demonstrate academic readiness while ensuring that candidates have a solid foundation of knowledge necessary for advanced coursework and clinical experiences.

References

Professional references are another important component of the application requirements for LPN to RN bridge programs. These references serve to validate your skills, work ethic, and suitability for the program. Additionally, references can lend insight into your character, clinical competence, and readiness for an RN role. As a result, strong references can enhance your chance of being accepted into competitive programs. Most programs will require you to submit references, typically from current or past supervisors or colleagues in healthcare settings. Be sure you ask for any necessary letters of recommendation early in the application process to guarantee your recommenders have adequate time to sing your praises!

Test Scores

Test scores can also hold some weight when applying to accelerated LPN to RN bridge programs. While requirements can vary, many programs require candidates to submit standardized test scores, such as the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) or SAT/ACTs–Rasmussen University offers an overview of and practical advice for conquering the TEAS test. These tests are designed to evaluate your knowledge in areas like reading comprehension, math, science, and English language proficiency. Strong test scores demonstrate academic readiness and positively impact your chances of acceptance into programs.

Transcripts

When applying to LPN to RN programs, transcripts are another essential part of the application package. Candidates are typically required to submit official transcripts from all previously attended educational institutions. These transcripts offer a comprehensive record of your academic performance, including completed coursework, grades, and overall GPA. As a result, transcripts provide a more objective insight into your educational background while serving as a basis for evaluating your readiness for an RN program.

Valid LPN License

Possessing a valid LPN license is a fundamental requirement for those applying to an accelerated LPN to RN bridge program, and applicants must provide proof of their current and unrestricted LPN license. An LPN license signifies to programs that you’ve successfully completed the necessary academic and clinical education and passed the licensure exam to practice as an LPN.

Timeline of Fast-Track LPN to RN Programs

While the specific timeline varies between programs and students’ individual circumstances, many programs offer accelerated options that condense the education and training period. From preparing for enrollment to graduation, this section provides a general timeline overview of the key milestones and stages involved in fast-track LPN to RN bridge programs.

Prior to Enrollment

There are several things you’ll want to stay on top of as you apply to and your LPN to RN bridge program. First, you’ll want to closely examine admission requirements and evaluate your eligibility based on prerequisites, including completed coursework and clinical experience. It’s also essential to gather any necessary documents, such as transcripts, reference letters, and a resume. Additionally, be sure to have any test scores readily available (TEAS, ACT, SAT, etc.) and ensure that your LPN license is current and in good standing.

First 6 Months

During the first six months of your accelerated LPN to RN program, expect to focus on building upon existing knowledge and skills. While requirements vary between programs, this phase often includes core nursing courses such as pathophysiology, pharmacology, and nursing care across the lifespan. Schools such as Missouri State-West Plains also commonly include classes like transitions for the LPN to RN as an introduction to the program.

Final 6 Months

In the final six months of an LPN to RN bridge program, students dive into more specialized and advanced nursing topics. This phase often includes courses such as medical-surgical nursing, pediatric nursing, and psychiatric nursing. For example, Mountain Empire Community College requires students in their final semester to take a course in complex health care concepts. You can also anticipate a degree-culminating capstone course such as Missouri State-West Plains’ current trends and issues in nursing.

Additionally, clinical rotations may become more specialized, allowing students to apply their knowledge in specific clinical areas. Students often gain experience in critical care units, maternity wards, or community health settings. Finally, the last six months also involve exam prep, including reviews and practice for the NCLEX-RN exam.

Program Completion

Upon completing your LPN to RN bridge program, you’ll be ready to take the next step in your nursing career. After all of the coursework, clinical obligations, and preparation for the NCLEX-RN exam, you’ll be ready to sit for the licensure exam. After passing the test, you’ll have the credentials to practice as a registered nurse in various healthcare settings. Be sure to lean on and seek the advice of your network of fellow students, instructors, and clinical mentors when searching for the best nursing job for you.

Strategies for Accelerating Your LPN-RN Bridge Program

Maximizing the efficiency of your time management, utilizing online resources, and enrolling as a full-time student are just some of the strategies you can employ to make the most of your LPN to RN bridge program and expedite your journey to becoming a registered nurse. ., Early Preparation for the NCLEX-RN Exam

Starting your NCLEX-RN test prep early is one solid way to ensure you earn your license as soon as possible. Familiarize yourself with the exam format, content, and study resources well in advance. Additionally, begin integrating NCLEX-style questions into your study routine, regularly utilize practice exams, and consider joining study groups focused on the NCLEX-RN prep. By starting early, you can build a strong foundation of knowledge while boosting your chances of first-time success on the exam.

Effective Time Management

Effective time management is crucial for accelerating your LPN to RN program. Creating a schedule can help you balance coursework, clinical requirements, and personal and professional responsibilities. Additionally, breaking down tasks into manageable pieces, prioritizing important tasks, and doing your best to eliminate distractions are among the best time management skills Harvard University recommends to accomplish your goals.. Falling behind on your coursework and clinical obligations can slow your progress toward your degree—if you manage your time effectively, you can stay organized, meet deadlines, and make the most of your study time.

Load Up on Credits

Maxing out the number of credits you tackle each semester is another way to earn your RN license more quickly. That said, be sure to consult your academic advisor to determine if it’s feasible based on your schedule and workload. Tackling additional credit hours can help you complete requirements more quickly, but it is important to maintain a balance between academic and clinical stress and your personal well-being to avoid burning out–take a look at some tips put together by Grand Canyon University

Online Learning

Taking advantage of online learning can be a valuable strategy for accelerating your LPN to RN bridge program. It’s becoming increasingly common for programs to offer online coursework, allowing you to take advantage of online resources, virtual lectures, and interactive modules. Online learning allows for maximum flexibility where you can study when it’s most convenient—this is especially helpful if you’re juggling the responsibilities of work and home.

Study Full-Time

Opting to study full-time is another effective way to ensure that you earn your RN licensure more quickly. While part-time school is sometimes necessary—especially for those with busy work and home lives—full-time study allows you to complete coursework and clinical requirements more rapidly. A full-time schedule requires careful planning, commitment, and the ability to balance your personal, professional, and academic responsibilities.

Summer and Winter Courses

Another common way to expedite your LPN to RN program is by enrolling in summer and winter classes. It’s often worth it to take advantage of the accelerated shoulder sessions to complete additional courses and clinical requirements. Be sure to check with your program administrators to see if summer and winter coursework is available and how you can take advantage of it to accelerate your progress toward your RN degree.

Test Out of Courses

Some LPN to RN programs offer “credit by exam” options, allowing you to test out of various classes. The availability of testing-out opportunities varies between schools, but if it’s available, it can significantly influence how long it can take you to graduate. These tests can include those offered in the form of CLEP and DSST exams, standardized tests that determine if you test out of various topics–Thomas Edison State University offers tips for preparing for the DSST exam. Be prepared to still complete the advanced nursing topics and clinical requirements of your chosen program.