From LPN to RN: What do I need to do as a LPN (licensed practical nurse) to become a RN (registered nurse)?

Nursing stands as among the most rewarding professions in the health care field.

Many people identify nurses as the ultimate caregivers, offering their patients the benefit of both advanced medical knowledge and warm, tender nurturing skills.

What many may not know, however, is that the job title of nursing encompasses a vast variety of skill and experience levels. And once you become a LPN (a licensed practical nurse), you might seek to advance to the level of RN (registered nurse).

A LPN is a nursing professional who takes care of basic medical duties such as checking vital signs and making telephone calls to patients regarding appointments and medical advice. Typically, one can become a LPN with a high school education and a year's worth of technical or vocational school, then go on to pass a licensing exam. The licensed LPN then can seek employment at doctors' offices, hospitals, nursing homes and medical centers.

A RN works even more closely with patients, actively treating them and—through both advanced medical advice and counseling—helping them deal with their illnesses. Like LPNs, RNs also work at a variety of medical centers; and additionally have unique opportunities to participate in local, community, and even global healthcare efforts, organizations and campaigns, sometimes in management or teaching positions. RNs traditionally have more responsibilities than LPNs, and this is reflected in their incomes. Indeed, registered nurses can make as much as twice the hourly rate in comparison to a licensed practical nurse; a difference equaling as much as $20,000 annually.

Typically, a medical student is required to study anywhere between two and four years to become a registered nurse, generally at a designated nursing school or a university. And, as is the case with the LPN, the student will be required to take a licensing exam.

If a nurse has attained LPN status, his/her journey to become a RN could be substantially different. Some schools offer bridge programs that allow LPNs to study toward their RN status, incorporating the credits and experience the LPN has earned. Depending on the experience and education the licensed practical nurse has accrued, this program could take from one to two years to complete.

Similarly, other schools offer dual enrollment programs in which an individual could work toward both certifications at once, then perhaps work part-time as a LPN until the RN status is achieved.

If you are a licensed practical nurse who wishes to become a registered nurse, the first and perhaps most important thing you can do is embrace and excel at your profession. The more you learn as a LPN, the more experience, knowledge and skills you attain, the more likely you are to become a RN. Use your position as a LPN as both an educational opportunity and a stepping stone; making connections among doctors, nurses, and even patients, and absorbing as much medical and technical knowledge as possible. These steps will pave your way, not only to become a quality RN, but to pursue a long and successful career in the medical care field.

Compare Medical Careers

Compare medical careers

Find the perfect medical career with our interactive medical career comparison tool. Change what you're looking for & and instantly see the results.

Great Pay / Minimal School

Find medical jobs with great pay & minimal schooling:

Physically Active Careers

Find physically active healthcare careers:

Medical Careers Mentioned

Career Spotlight Articles