LPN may be your job title, but “practical” might describe your personality as well. So perhaps you’re searching for an LPN to RN bridge program that could serve as an affordable, flexible way to increase your earning potential, elevate your delivery of patient care, and qualify you for new responsibilities. You’ll find dozens of high-quality LPN to RN programs in Tennessee, so you can level up your credentials without having to cross state lines.
This guide is a great place to begin your Tennessee LPN to RN program search. We’ll walk you through the best schools, what you can expect to learn, career prospects, and much more. Along the way, we’ll highlight outstanding bridge programs for you to consider. Now, let’s dive into what the Volunteer State has to offer.
The Best LPN to RN Bridge Programs in Tennessee: 2023
Remember how we mentioned there are dozens of LPN to RN bridge programs in TN? It can be tough to sort through the specifics of each option and find the best fit for your needs. But we’ve done some of the heavy lifting for you. Every year we review the LPN to RN bridge programs in Tennessee to identify the cream of the crop.
For starters, we’ll only show you legitimate schools that are approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing. Then, we consider important factors like student outcomes, tuition cost, and flexibility. Here are a few standout schools that are making the grade in 2023.
Columbia State Community College
Columbia State Community College (CSCC) is the oldest college in Tennessee. So its strong academic track record shouldn’t come as a surprise. CSCC’s nursing program boasts an outstanding 98.3% pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), a sure sign that graduates from their LPN to RN Bridge Program are ready for the rigors of RN careers.
Although some in-person learning is required, CSCC’s nursing program remains incredibly flexible. Students can mix and match courses across five different campuses in the southern middle Tennessee area. Evening and weekend classes are available, and you’ll be able to tackle some of your classes online if you prefer. Because over one-third of the student population are adult learners managing careers, family, and other responsibilities, academic advisors are prepared to develop individualized learning plans to help you study sustainably and achieve your academic goals.
A program this great must be super expensive, right? Not at CSCC. At a mere $171 per credit for in-state students, this is one of the most affordable LPN to RN programs in TN.
Jackson State Community College
Jackson State Community College (JSCC) was founded on the belief that education is “the key to a better quality of life.” To this end, JSCC’s LPN-RN Career Mobility Track maintains a laser-like focus on the skills and knowledge you need to excel as an RN in Tennessee. However, the school recognizes that successful nursing requires more than a stellar understanding of human anatomy, so you’ll also receive valuable training in communication and leadership that is missing from many programs.
JSCC’s dedication to practical skill sets seems to pay off. Currently, 97.3% of graduates pass their NCLEX on the first try. The schools extensive student services may be a key to their curriculum’s success. At JSCC you’ll have access to tutoring, financial advising, research coaching, counseling, career placement services and many other no-cost services to support your studies.
JSCC’s five campuses offer plenty of options for where and when you attend class. Additionally, the school’s robust distance learning offerings provide the opportunity to complete some of your required coursework from the comfort of your home.
Chattanooga State Community College
Chattanooga State Community College (CSCC) takes the “community” part of their name seriously, and it shows. CSCC’s beautiful campus is designed to feel like home. Dozens of public access buildings offer sites for students to study, socialize, and build lasting relationships. Since the campus is only a few minutes from downtown Chattanooga, students can enjoy the benefits of city life without having to travel great distances.
Perhaps the close relationships between members of CSCC’s Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Transition Program is the key to students’ overwhelming success upon graduating, as 95.7% of graduates pass their NCLEX. And, because RNs are in high demand in Chattanooga, many graduates find work nearby. Overall, students have plenty of support from peers, professors, dedicated academic advisors, and campus resources.
As with all of our top ranked schools, CSCC offers the flexibility you need. LPN to RN students can attend classes full or part time, and night programs are available — as are some opportunities for online learning.
What You Can Expect to Learn in Your LPN to RN Program in Tennessee
Bridge programs build upon your existing experience and credentials to offer the practical and technical knowledge necessary to earn higher-level credentials. Since you’ll be studying alongside other LPNs, you won’t spend valuable class time reviewing concepts you already have dialed. Instead, your coursework will broaden your horizons and offer deeper insights into essential topics in nursing.
Although you likely already have experience working with patients, clinical experiences give you the opportunity to try on new responsibilities and practices to prepare for the next stage of your career. Many schools, like Southwest Tennessee Community College, have a clinical rotation specifically focused on the transition between LPN and RN to highlight the differences between the two roles.
Behind the scenes, you’ll flesh out your knowledge of essential subjects like nursing theory, anatomy, and pharmacology. At some schools, like Jackson State Community College, students participate in communication courses to ensure they can share information effectively with peers and patients. When you graduate from a Tennessee LPN to RN bridge program, you should be prepared to excel at the NCLEX-RN and earn your nursing license.
Popular Classes in LPN to RN Programs in TN
Adult Health Nursing
This class, and others like pediatric or geriatric nursing, let you apply your knowledge of anatomy, psychology, biology, and other fields to a specific patient group. You’ll learn some of the common situations you’ll encounter working with adults, including care for chronic and acute conditions.
Pharmacology in Nursing
As an RN, you’ll have more responsibilities when it comes to medication management. So, you’ll take one or more classes in pharmacology during your program. These classes prepare you to evaluate medication effectiveness, educate patients, and communicate with your colleagues about medication plans or issues.
Many programs require one or more ethics courses in their LPN to RN curriculum. Class content is sometimes combined with topics in nursing law. The goal of these courses is to equip you with the insights to handle tough choices you may face in the workplace.
Life Span Psychology
These courses cover peoples’ psychological development from before birth until death. You will learn about how individuals’ physical, emotional, and cognitive functions develop throughout their lives and the unique challenges and strengths that people have at each life stage.
Childbearing Family Nursing
Most nursing students will take this class in preparation for a clinical rotation in a pre or post-natal care setting. Typically, these courses cover a range of essential topics, including child delivery, newborn care, patient education, and cultural competency.
Detailed Look at Online LPN to RN Programs in Tennessee
Many future RNs look to online education because it’s an affordable and flexible way to attend school. Unfortunately, LPN to RN bridge students have very few online options in TN. In the state, Herzing University’s LPN to RN program is the only one that describes itself as a hybrid program. Our research didn’t turn up any fully online bridge programs in the state.
But that doesn’t me you’ll have to spend all your time in the classroom. Most Tennessee colleges offer online classes. So, it’s a good bet you’ll be able to knock out some of your general ed and intro classes remotely. If you’re interested in taking some of your nursing classes online, you can reach out to an advisor or peruse your school’s course schedule to learn about your options.
Tennessee nursing schools offer flexibility beyond distance learning. Many programs, like the one at Southwest Tennessee Community College, offer evening and weekend LPN to RN programs. These non-traditional class schedules are a great option to help working students meet their academic and professional goals.
If it’s 100%-online-or-bust to meet your needs, you aren’t out of options. The Tennessee Board of Nursing approves many out-of-state schools. And many online-only programs extend in-state tuition to remote students. Visit our guide to online LPN to RN Programs to learn more.
FAQs About LPN to RN Programs in Tennessee
How long does it take to finish an LPN to RN bridge program in TN?
LPN to RN programs in Tennessee vary in length. They can typically be completed in 12-24 months, but your timeline will vary based on several factors. One major consideration is how many credit hours your program requires. For example, Motlow State College only requires 42 hours. Southwest Tennessee University, on the other hand, requires 67 credit hours.
Another major variable in your timeline is the order of required courses. For example, if you are at Jackson State Community College and missed taking Foundations of Nursing I in the fall, you won’t be ready to take Foundations of Nursing II in the spring. Since all courses aren’t offered every semester, if you get off track, it can take quite a while to catch up again.
Finally, as we’re sure you can imagine, the number of courses you take each semester will dramatically impact how long it takes to finish your program. Some students opt to pursue a degree part time, which can double (or more) the duration of their studies.
What are the requirements to get into a Tennessee LPN to RN bridge program?
The hallmark of LPN to RN programs is that they cater specifically to LPNs. So nearly across the board, these programs will require you to demonstrate that you have an active, unencumbered LPN license in Tennessee. Some schools, like Chattanooga State Community College, also require applicants to have already completed specific courses during their LPN study.
Other common requirements for LPN to RN bridge applicants include a minimum GPA, standardized test scores, and an entrance exam. Although requirements vary school to school, Tennessee State University’s application standards are a great example of what to expect.
How much do LPN to RN bridge programs in Tennessee cost?
Your total cost will depend largely on which school you attend; tuition in LPN to RN programs in Tennessee can range from as low as $6,000 to upwards of $30,000. Be sure to look into which options offer in-state tuition or financial aid packages to save money where you can. An often-overlooked expense in healthcare education is additional fees for uniforms, fingerprinting, books, and other materials. Be sure to account for those fees when making your budget.
Motlow State Community College
Total Credits: 42
Columbia State Community College
Total Credits: 67
$171/credit in-state, $705/credit out-of-state
Northeast State Community College
Total Credits: 66
$171/credit in-state, $534 out-of-state
What qualities should I look for in an LPN to RN program in Tennessee?
An expensive price tag doesn’t necessarily equal a high-quality education. Fortunately, there are ways to assess a school’s quality with only a few minutes of research. First, make sure your potential program is approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing or the nursing board of the state where you intend to pursue your license. Any school that doesn’t meet this criterion should be crossed off your list immediately.
Next, consider the program’s accreditation status. At a minimum, the school should be accredited by a regional or national organization. You can check the U.S. Department of Education’s directory to ensure your school is legit. The very best nursing programs will also be accredited by The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Finally, you can look up the school’s NCLEX-RN pass rates. High pass rates on this exam demonstrate that graduates were well prepared to apply for licensure.
LPN to RN in Tennessee: Job Outlook and Earnings Comparison
Let’s talk about what happens after graduation. When you’re contemplating a return to school, you want to make sure your investment will pay off. We’re here to help you make that call. We’ve researched wage and employment data statewide to assess the job outlook for Tennessee RNs. Here is what we learned.
How much more can I make advancing from an LPN to RN in Tennessee?
Transitioning into an RN position comes with a sizeable pay increase, no matter where you live. You’ll see in the chart below that Tennessee RNs earn about 35% more than LPNs. But, in smaller cities like Jackson or Johnson City, you might be able to command over 50% more than your current salary.
Of course, these figures represent the earnings of nurses at all experience levels. So be prepared to earn less than the median wage when you are just starting out. However, as your career progresses, you may find yourself earning much more than the averages you see below.
|LPN Median Annual Wage||RN Median Annual Wage||Earnings Increase|
|Johnson City, TN||$37,500||$59,960||59.9%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021
What’s the job market like for RNs in Tennessee compared to LPNs?
Healthcare is a growing industry in Tennessee. Since 2017, the state has experienced a 30% increase in healthcare jobs. Demand for licensed health professionals is increasing across the board, including for LPNs and RNs.
But the statistics show that there are simply more opportunities for RNs. As you can see in the following table, even though demand for both types of professionals is growing at about the same rate, there are nearly twice as many annual job openings for RNs compared to LPNs.
|Job Growth Rate|
|Average Annual Openings|
|LPNs in Tennessee||4,240||16.5%||2,520|
|RNs in Tennessee||10,870||16.9%||4,700|
Source: Projections Central