Reputable agencies and organizations estimate that a large magnitude of nursing shortage will hit the U.S. in 15 to 20 years. As the population age and as the need of adequate patient care increases, the demand for registered nurses is expected to hit an all-time high by 2025. Exacerbating the situation is the expected retirement of RNs, the baby boomers, in the next decade. This group is the largest group in the nursing workface at this time. With the demand for RN growing by 2% to 3% each year, the shortage of registered nurses in the U.S. could reach between 260,000 and 500,000 by 2025.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the demand for registered nurses is expected to grow by as much as 22% through 2018. This figure indicates the creation of more than 581,500 new RN positions through 2018. Compared to other professions, the employment of RNs is expected to grow much faster than the average,. The increasing demand for RNs within the next 10 years, at the least, is one of the reasons why this field healthcare is considered as one of the most viable and promising careers, especially for licensed practical nurses.
As a response to the growing need for registered nurses, the American Association of Colleges in Nursing, or AACN, together with the government, hospitals and private organizations, has implemented innovative strategies to resolve this health care crisis. Maximizing the advantages offered by information technology and the widespread availability of the Internet, online LPN-to-RN programs are developed and offered by various nursing institutions as a strategy to shrink the shortage.
LPN-to-RN associate degree programs are offered in traditional classroom-based and online formats. Similar to campus-based programs, online LPN-to-RN programs consist of courses that strengthen the students’ knowledge in basic sciences and nursing skills. Anatomy and physiology, microbiology, chemistry, maternal and child health nursing, adult health nursing, pharmacology and professional ethics in nursing are usually required to complete the program. After the coursework is completed, students must complete their hands-on training in local health facilities to develop and enhance the skills required of an RN. LPN-to-RN associate degree programs are completed in less than 18 months. Online LPN-to-RN programs allow students to earn degrees in a shorter period of time.
LPN-to-RN online programs for baccalaureate degrees are also known as bridge programs. In contrast to an associate degree in nursing, a bachelor’s degree gives more comprehensive training in patient care. In addition to classes required to obtain an associate degree, online courses in critical care nursing, chronic care, community health nursing, nursing informatics, risk reduction, disease management and nursing management and leadership are included in the curriculum. Students are also required to complete their hands-on training in actual facilities with the supervision of local preceptors. Campus-based bridge programs are completed between 2 to 4 years. Online LPN-to-RN programs may allow students to earn a baccalaureate degree in nursing in a shorter period of time.