If you’re a nurse who wants to take your career to the next level but don’t want to go back to school full time, a nursing bridge program may be right for you. A nursing bridge helps you advance your education at an accelerated pace, allowing you to move forward in your career without sacrificing your work/life balance. Where can nursing take you, and is an LPN to RN bridge worth it? Learn more about how nursing bridge programs work and whether or not a bridge is right for you.
What is a nursing bridge program?
If you currently work as a CNA or LPN, you’ve made an important entry step into your healthcare career. Now that you’ve gained field experience, you may be interested in developing advanced skills and furthering your earning potential by becoming a registered nurse. To do this, you’ll need additional education.
A nursing bridge is defined as a pathway that guides nurses from one stage in their career to the next, filling in the necessary education and experience to move to a higher level. This schooling track is designed specifically for nurses, catering to their strengths, challenges, and unique needs.
A nursing bridge program may include:
- Prerequisite or general education coursework
- Core subject coursework
- Clinical hours or in-the-field experience
Every nursing bridge program is different so it’s important to find one that fits your goals and needs. For example, some programs are online while others require in-person components.
There are also college prep services available to working adults that support those going back to school while working. These services may include college planning, tutoring, and ways to test out of college courses.
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The benefits of a nursing bridge program
Nursing bridge programs support you as you move to the next level professionally and academically. No matter where you are in your nursing career, a nursing bridge program builds on your existing knowledge to help you advance to an RN or BSN.
Nursing bridge program benefits include:
- Less time: Bridge programs are different from the traditional college structure in that students can often earn their degrees in less time.
- Balance work and education: When you choose a bridge program, you don’t have to choose between work and your education. Most programs are part time so you can continue working.
- Online learning: Many bridge programs offer either some or all coursework online, allowing students to learn from the comfort of home.
Overall, nursing bridge programs take into consideration that students are generally working adults with healthcare experience. Because nursing bridge programs take into account the skills you’ve already started building, you can often jump with added confidence. This approach supports the circumstances nurses are dealing with and makes learning more attainable.
Which nursing degree is best?
When considering a nursing bridge program, you’ll need to decide which nursing degree path is right for you.
There are two different nursing degree options:
- Associate degree in nursing (ADN)
- Bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN)
Both paths prepare you for your nursing licensure exam—the NCLEX—and will earn you the designation of RN. Both degrees provide all the training and knowledge necessary to be a successful registered nurse.
What is the difference between an ADN and BSN?
- Program length: An ADN takes an average of two years to complete while a BSN takes four years.
- Education level: A BSN is a more advanced degree and therefore challenges students with more subject matters that aren’t addressed in an ADN program. Topics such as nursing leadership, public health issues, medical research, and more are part of the BSN curriculum.
- Career opportunities: Those looking for maximum career trajectory may want to consider the BSN route. An ADN opens the door to entry level positions, while a BSN creates additional advancement opportunities. A bachelor’s degree is necessary for pursuing the next level of nursing education, a master’s of science in nursing (MSN).
So, which nursing degree is best? That will depend on your career goals and how much time you can devote to education.
- An ADN may be right for you if you want to level up your career in a shorter time frame.
- A BSN may be right for you if you want a greater variety of career and education options throughout your career.
Is a nursing bridge worth it?
A nursing bridge is worth it for nurses who want to move to the next level in their career. More education creates more opportunities and higher earning potential which can make a significant impact in personal and professional satisfaction.
Investing in your future can seem daunting when you are budgeting up front, but seeing numbers in action can put it all in perspective.
According to Indeed, 2023 average nursing salaries include:
- CNA average salary: $44,771
- LPN average salary: $60,383
- RN average salary: $93,190
Nurses at a variety of stages can bridge nursing and move to the next level.
Can you bridge from CNA to RN?
Yes. CNA to RN bridge programs help certified nursing assistants bridge the gap to a higher healthcare career. Nursing bridge programs
Learn more about CNA to RN bridge options.
Can you bridge from LPN to RN?
Yes. LPN to RN bridge programs are a great way to move forward with nursing education while taking busy schedules and home lives into consideration.
Learn more about LPN to RN bridge options.
Where can nursing take you?
An RN degree opens doors that other nursing credentials don’t. Becoming an RN offers a higher salary and more responsibilities, but there are additional nursing career opportunities available outside the traditional nursing position.
Leadership and mentoring roles with titles such as:
- Nurse Manager
- Healthcare Manager
- Nurse Administrator
- Director of Nursing
- Chief Nursing Officer
- Nurse Educator
A career in nursing can take you outside the hospital or doctor’s office-setting. A variety of healthcare settings are open to you as an RN, including:
- Travel nurse
- Flight nurse
- Home health nurse
- Mental health nursing
- School nurse
- Forensic nurse
What do I need to start a bridge program?
It depends on the program. Most people who are already an RN can go directly into an accelerated BSN program. To enter all other nursing bridge programs, you need some healthcare experience to work towards an RN license or higher degree levels.
A great way to start a nursing bridge program is with an RN Bridge Plan. This customized, detailed document lists out everything you need for your nursing degree, including nursing school recommendations, required courses, and even opportunities to save time through a test-out system called credit by exam.
What nursing bridge programs are available with Achieve?
Achieve Test Prep offers a variety of nursing bridge programs, including...
Whatever nursing bridge program you are interested in, Achieve Test Prep is committed to showing you the fastest route to earning your degree. At Achieve Test Prep, we help you test out of prerequisites and other nursing courses so you can overcome education gaps. Not only does this process get you licensed quicker, you may also save money on the cost of your degree.
Nursing bridge programs near me
Achieve Test Prep offers online nursing bridge programs to help CNAs and RNs earn their RN. We help nurses test out of prerequisite courses, saving time and minimizing stress. No matter where you are on your education journey, we can help guide you through.