The healthcare field offers many stepping stones when it comes to career growth, and LPNs looking to jump toward something better will find that an LPN to RN bridge program may be just what they need. Whether you’re looking to increase your salary, climb the career ladder, or simply continue your education, there’s no time like the present to launch yourself further into the field of nursing. How will you know which program is right for you? It all starts with knowing what to look for. Researching independently can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help!
We’ll guide you through some of the most important things to consider, such as program delivery options, location, tuition costs, program length, and more. We’ll also help you discover some of the top programs in Illinois, some of the common courses you can expect to take, and answers to the questions you probably have. The ultimate goal? Find a program that’s just right for you.
Top LPN-RN Bridge Programs in Illinois
Let’s ease in by looking at three snapshots of real Illinois LPN to RN bridge programs. These will give you an idea of what to expect from a high-quality program. While each school’s program differs slightly, the end goals are all the same. These accredited programs provide an excellent curriculum taught by experienced faculty and many opportunities for students to gain hands-on learning.
Joliet Junior College
Joliet Junior College offers an LPN to RN transition program for students who already have their LPN license. This program combines traditional classroom experience with online coursework and consists of three semesters of classroom instruction, clinical experience, and health facility simulations. Upon completion, students will receive an AAS degree and will be eligible for the required NCLEX-RN exam to become registered nurses. This is considered a rigorous program with 18 hours each week dedicated to lectures and clinicals, and a recommended minimum of 20 hours dedicated to studying and practicing. Joliet Junior College also has agreements with several universities to help students transition to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program for those wishing to further their education. Joliet also has no set deadline for general coursework, which gives students more flexibility and time to complete their studies.
Lincoln Land Community College
Lincoln Land Community College offers an LPN to ADN transition program for students preparing to become registered nurses. This program, accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), is offered in both hybrid and on-campus formats. LLCC’s students have achieved an approximately 90% pass rate of NCLEX-RN exams, so you can feel confident that this program will successfully prepare you. To be admitted into the program, prospective students must have their CPR certifications and physical immunizations, and they must pass a drug screening and background check. Tuition costs approximately $1,800 per semester, but financial aid is available in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, and federal work-study programs. Upon completion of the program, graduates can enter the workforce as registered nurses or choose to further their education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
McHenry County College
McHenry County College offers an LPN to RN bridge program for students with LPN licenses looking to transition to registered nurses. MCC’s nursing program is approved by the Illinois Board of Nursing and the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB). This is a blended program, consisting of both online and in-person classes with two weekdays spent on campus for lab and theory practice. This program consists of 33 credits and can be completed in three semesters part-time. To be admitted into the program, applicants must have at least a minimum GPA of 2.5, completed the required prerequisites courses within five years of the application date, and passed the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) pre-admission test.
Learning Outcomes in an Illinois LPN to RN Bridge Program
Students in the LPN to RN bridge program can expect to build upon their previous medical knowledge and experience in many different areas through classroom instruction, practicum experiences, simulations, and clinical work.
While each school will offer slightly different curricula, similar core concepts will be covered regardless of the program you follow. Below are a few of the more common courses you can expect to take within any LPN to RN program in Illinois.
LPN-RN Program Delivery Options in Illinois
College courses can be taken either in-person, online, or in a hybrid format. Each delivery option has its pros and cons depending on the student’s preference. Oftentimes, colleges will offer several formats for the same class, so it’s important to understand the difference when deciding which courses are right for you.
A hybrid course consists of both online and in-person lectures and classroom experiences. Typically, a hybrid class will have one in-person day each week and the rest of the coursework and instruction will be available online. This is beneficial to students who are self-motivated but also enjoy face-to-face conversations with a professor to answer questions and go over more confusing concepts.
Online learning happens entirely over the internet, meaning all of your lectures, readings, quizzes, exams, and coursework are found and completed online. This is an excellent option for self-motivated students who do not live on or near campus and require a more flexible schedule.
In-person courses are traditional formats and require students to attend a class on campus at a set time every week with other students and a professor. In-person courses are often required for any theory, simulation, or practical education since you cannot get hands-on experience through a computer screen. Students who prefer to ask questions, socialize, and be part of discussions will prefer in-person courses over online ones.
FAQs for LPN-RN Bridge Programs in Illinois
When choosing the right program for you, it’s important to research as much as you can about various programs to know how well they may fit your needs. To make your journey a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions so you won’t need to do as much research on your own.
How long are LPN-RN bridge programs?
Most LPN to RN bridge programs Illinois offers can be completed in four semesters. Usually, an LPN to RN bridge program can only be taken part-time since specific courses need to be completed in order. However, there are some accelerated programs offered by different schools, and oftentimes you can complete prerequisite courses before you’re even admitted into the program, which will often speed up your process as well.
What are the admission requirements for LPN to RN programs in Illinois?
Each school has different requirements for admission, so it’s important to check out each school you are considering. However, a few common admission requirements include a minimum GPA (i.e., 2.5), completion of general education prerequisite courses, a valid LPN license, and minimum professional workforce experience (i.e., 2 years). Some schools require a pre-admission test to make sure applicants have the skills and knowledge required for the program’s coursework. Other programs will also require letters of reference or an admission essay.
What is the cost for LPN to RN programs?
Every school offers different tuition rates, so you’ll have to carefully research specific programs you’re interested in. Some community colleges offer tuition as low as $4,000/year, while other colleges have tuition as high as $23,000/year for a similar program. Overall cost considerations should also include transportation and housing costs, as well as books and any applicable fees. It’s worth noting that online LPN to RN bridge programs in Illinois may have cheaper tuition than traditional on-campus programs, and they may also offer savings since you will not be commuting to and from campus.
What should I look for in an LPN to RN program in Illinois?
One of the most important things to look for when finding a college program is accreditation. Accreditation guarantees the quality of a program since accredited programs must meet certain requirements. Accreditation can easily be found on the college’s website. It’s also worth researching the program’s faculty to see their education and workforce experience. Lastly, you’ll want to make sure the program will prepare you to take the NCLEX-RN exam, since you cannot become an RN without passing it. Oftentimes a school’s website will tell you the NCLEX pass rates of their graduates; the higher the pass rate, the more confident you can feel in the program.
LPN vs RN in Illinois: A Look at Expected Earnings and Outlook
Transitioning from an LPN to an RN may seem like a lot of work, but does all that work pay off? The short answer is yes. Registered nurses have higher salaries than LPNs, and the demand for registered nurses can be higher as well. Below we’ll go over the typical salaries and earnings of registered nurses, as well as the current job market.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the salary for registered nurses in Illinois is $70,000-$75,000. This is about $20,000 more per year than the annual salary of LPNs. The national median salary for registered nurses is $81,000, or $39/hour, although there are some metropolitan areas in Illinois that are above the national average. The lowest 10% of registered nurses only make $59,000/year, but the highest 10% earn over $120,000/year. While wages will vary depending on the area of Illinois you choose to work, you can generally expect to receive an approximate 30% salary increase from being an LPN.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021
There are more than five times as many registered nurses in Illinois than there are LPNs, which is a significant jump in demand. Illinois stands in the top 20% of employed registered nurses in the nation with a projected job growth of 6% by 2031. There are expected to be more than three million registered nurses working in the United States by 2031. While LPNs can also expect a 6% increase in the job market, there still will only be 700,000 LPNs or fewer working in the United States in 2031.
Source: Projections Central