As a licensed practical nurse (LPN), you serve a critical support role in the delivery of medical care, but your level of responsibility is limited. If you want to provide a higher level of care while also earning more money and expanding your professional horizons, becoming a registered nurse (RN) is something to consider.
The fastest path to becoming an RN is to earn an associate degree in science. As an LPN, you can leverage your experience and prior training to earn your nursing degree on an accelerated timeline by enrolling in an LPN to RN online nursing program in Louisiana. While associate degrees in nursing typically take two years to complete, you can complete your degree program in as little as one year, depending on your academic background.
This guide provides an overview of these LPN to RN programs in Louisiana, including how to get in, what you’ll learn, and what your career prospects are after you graduate.
Top LPN-RN Bridge Programs in Louisiana
There are many on-campus and online LPN to RN bridge programs in Louisiana, so it can sometimes be challenging to figure out which one is right for you. To help jumpstart your school search, we’ve identified a few spotlight programs that stand out in terms of affordability, curriculum, and flexible learning options.
SOWELA Technical Community College
SOWELA Technical Community College’s LPN to RN Program is a primarily on-campus ACEN-accredited nursing program. However, the program has made some courses available online. For example, LPN to RN Transitions, a core nursing class, is offered online. Students also have the option of completing one or more prerequisites and general education classes online.
One of this program’s unique features is its admissions process. Among other requirements, applicants must complete multiple entrance exams, including the ATI Fundamentals Exam and the TEAS VII, and possess an IV Therapy Certification. Each component of a prospective student’s applications is weighted. Applicants receive bonus points if they have already completed post-secondary programs, such as a certificate, an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a master’s degree.
Finally, students must have completed 24 credits’ worth of prerequisites by the end of the spring semester in which they are applying to the LPN to RN Program.
LSU of Alexandria
At LSU of Alexandria, current LPNs can enroll in the LPN to ASN track to become RNs with as little as three semesters of coursework and clinicals. To graduate, students must complete 72 credits, but the program’s exact length depends on prior college coursework and how quickly students move through competency testing. Most of the program’s coursework must be taken on campus, but many of the prerequisites are available online. The clinical sites are located in Rapides Parish.
Regardless of how an LPN student progresses through the program, they should know that they’re receiving some of the best RN training available in the state. This is evidenced not just by its ACEN accreditation, but also by the program’s NCLEX-RN passage rate of 100% for its LPN students.
The tuition is already affordable for in-state students, but additional financial assistance is also available, including the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship.
Learning Outcomes in a Louisiana LPN to RN Bridge Program
If you decide to start taking classes in an online LPN to RN Louisiana nursing program, you can expect your curriculum to consist of a few key components.
The first part of the curriculum will be the prerequisite courses. Depending on the program, you’ll take all (or most) of these before applying, as is the case with SOWELA Technical Community College. In other LPN to RN programs, like the one offered by Northwestern State University, students complete some of the typical prerequisite courses after applying and starting the nursing program.
The second part consists of core nursing classes, and the third part of the curriculum consists of general education classes.
The last section of most LPN to RN programs centers around in-person clinicals, where you’ll apply your knowledge in real-world medical settings.
While the nursing skills and knowledge you gain will be similar regardless of nursing school or program, each program organizes their courses differently. Below is a sample of the types of courses you can expect in your Louisiana LPN to RN nursing program.
LPN-RN Program Delivery Options in Louisiana
LPN to RN program students must complete a certain number of hours of hands-on training to satisfy their clinical requirement. While nursing schools have great flexibility in how they arrange their curriculums, they are limited in how much of the program they can offer online. Even so, there are several differences in how LPN to RN program requirements can be completed.
A hybrid program is one that has both online and in-person learning elements. Because nursing is an inherently hands-on profession, the bulk of online LPN to RN programs in Louisiana are in fact hybrid programs. The primary difference among hybrid nursing programs is how many of the traditionally campus-based classes are offered online.
Some LPN to RN online programs, like the one from Bossier Parish Community College, only allow prerequisites to be completed online. Others, like SOWELA Technical Community College, allow students to complete one or more nursing classes online.
There are no fully online LPN to RN nursing programs in Louisiana. This is because all accredited and board approved programs will require in-person clinicals as part of the curriculum. If you come across an LPN to RN program in Louisiana that says it’s 100% online, it’s likely referring to the fact that the didactic portions of the curriculum can be completed online.
Most LPN to RN nursing programs offered in Louisiana deliver the curriculum on campus. However, because of the dramatic growth of remote learning, most schools with LPN to RN programs also offer at least some classes online. These are often classes that will meet the general education and/or prerequisite requirements for nursing students. Therefore, even if the LPN to RN program is considered in-person, some of the associate degree classes may available online.
FAQs for LPN-RN Bridge Programs in Louisiana
It’s important to do your research before applying to an LPN to RN online Louisiana nursing program. Part of this research process will be finding the answers to questions specific to your unique needs or preferences. But you’ll also want to get answers to questions that most prospective nursing students have. We answer some of these more general questions below.
How long are LPN-RN bridge programs?
The length of your program depends primarily on your prior college coursework. If you haven’t completed any coursework beyond what you took to become an LPN, then you can expect to take around two years to earn your associate degree. For instance, at LSU at Eunice, traditional RN students will take four semesters to earn their associate degrees in nursing. However, LPN to RN students will receive 14 credit hours of advanced standing, reducing the time it takes to complete the program to roughly three semesters. There are also LPN to RN programs, such as the one offered by Southern University Shreveport Louisiana, that last just three semesters. Keep in mind, however, that these curriculums usually don’t include prerequisites.
What are the admission requirements for LPN to RN programs in Louisiana?
Almost all LPN to RN programs are competitive, which means you’ll want the best grades possible to get in. In addition to good grades, you may also need sufficient entrance exam test scores. Below are some of the most important elements of your Louisiana LPN to RN nursing program:
- Nursing program application.
- Official college transcripts.
- Minimum grades in specific prerequisite and general education classes (South Louisiana Community College requires at least a “C” in each class with a minimum overall GPA of 2.8).
The most common entrance exams applicants must take are the TEAS, ATI Fundamentals Exam, and/or the HESI Admissions Assessment Test. While not always required, nursing school applicants may also need to include an essay explaining their interest in nursing–this is required when applying to the LPN to ASN program at Fletcher Technical Community College.
What is the cost for LPN to RN programs?
The majority of schools offering LPN to RN programs in Louisiana are public institutions, so one of the biggest factors affecting the cost of the program is residency status. For example, at Northwestern State University, in-state students can expect to pay roughly $5,000 per semester, while out-of-state students pay more than double. More affordable options are available, however, like at Delgado Community College, where the total semester cost is less than $4,000.
What should I look for in an LPN to RN program in Louisiana?
In addition to cost and personal preferences, there are a few important things to check before selecting a school. You’ll want to confirm that the Louisiana State Board of Nursing has approved the program.
Next, you want to make sure the program is accredited by an independent organization, such as the NLN Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA), the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Accreditation is not as critical as nursing board approval, but gives you the peace of mind that your education will be recognized by future employers and graduate schools.
Finally, look for a program with a first-time NCLEX-RN exam passage rate that exceeds the state average. This indicates that the faculty does a good job of preparing their students for the NCLEX-RN exam and future careers as RNs.
LPN vs RN in Louisiana: A Look at Expected Earnings and Outlook
Even though the state anticipates a dramatic shortage of nurses (6,000 RNs by 2030 according to the Board of Regents of the State of Louisiana), the job outlook and estimated earnings for new RNs isn’t as robust in Louisiana as it is in other parts of the country. While the earnings and job growth data may seem a bit underwhelming compared to the national average, graduates from LPN to RN online Louisiana nursing programs can still expect a promising and well-paying future career as a registered nurse.
The fact that Louisiana has a lower cost of living than the national average helps explains the lower median salaries that LPNs ($46,160) and RNs ($64,460) earn. Even though Louisiana RNs typically make less than the national average, they still make significantly more than Louisiana LPNs. It’s also important to note that RNs in larger cities will make more than their rural or smaller city counterparts. For example, RNs in New Orleans make around $77,030 while RNs in Alexandria make closer to $62,160 in annual median salary.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021
Louisiana is one of the few states where the demand for LPNs and RNs is relatively flat. According to Projections Central, the projected growth for RNs in the United States from 2020 to 2030 is estimated to be 9%. However, the growth rate for RNs in Louisiana for that same time period is only projected to be 1.8%. This mirrors the growth rate for LPNs in Louisiana. Despite this relatively soft demand, there are still more than 2,200 openings for RNs each year in the state, a figure that is not likely to go down any time soon as the state’s registered nursing shortage is expected to continue into the foreseeable future.
Source: Projections Central