A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) works primarily within nursing care facilities where certification is required. However, Certified Nursing Assistants may also be employed by medical and surgical hospitals, home health agencies, as well as private physician offices. In most cases, CNAs have completed a 6 to 24 week course of study at community colleges or private vocational schools.
The primary responsibilities of a CNA is to assist patients with activities of daily living (ADL), such as bathing, grooming, personal hygiene, feeding, and walking. A CNA may also help monitor patient vital signs, and dispense prescribed medication.
While a Certified Nursing Assistant and LPN can both work under the supervision of registered nurses or physicians, Licensed Practical Nurses are provided with somewhat more responsibility in terms of patient care and earn higher salaries. Indeed, LPNs may supervise the work of nursing aides and CNAs. For this reason, many Certified Nursing Assistants seek to advance their career by participating in CNA to LPN programs.
Benefit of CNA to LPN Bridge Programs
Becoming an LPN carries with it important benefits in terms of both greater autonomy and job responsibilities, along with increased earnings. As with CNAs, the majority of LPNs may be found working in nursing facilities and hospitals settings. Nursing facilities in particular offer strong job prospects for Licensed Practical Nurses due the continuing aging of the population—a trend expected to increase even further as Baby Boomers near the age when chronic illness becomes more frequent necessitating the need for long-term skilled care.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary of an LPN is about $40,000 per year which represents an increase of about $13,000 over what a CNA salary is. The salary differential arises from the greater number of patient care responsibilities that are provided to LPNs as compared with CNAs. For example, an LPN can administer patient medication, monitor patient vital signs, and prepare and insert IV tubes. The difference in salary is also attributable to the fact that Licensed Practical Nurses have graduated from a diploma program and passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).
A final benefit of CNA to LPN bridge programs is that you may continue working as a CNA while you take courses toward the LPN diploma. In fact, you may be eligible to receive tuition assistance from your current employer to help defray tuition costs. You may attend the diploma program on a part-time evening and weekend basis or through distance learning programs. Another option, if you have the financial resources, is to take a leave of absence from work and attend the program full-time returning to your employer upon graduation.
Admission Requirements for CNA to LPN Programs
While specific admission requirements for CNA to LPN programs vary from state-to-state, general admission criteria include:
- Possession of a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED)
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Satisfactory scores on entrance tests, although not all schools require such tests.
- Satisfactory completion of prerequisite coursework as evidenced by an official transcript showing a GPA of 2.5 for all courses: Math, Human anatomy and physiology, Microbiology, Chemistry and biochemistry, Psychology, English composition.
- Letter of recommendation from instructors or supervisors.
CNA to LPN Program Curriculum
The following are the various skills and procedures that students will learn as part of most LPN diploma programs:
– Knowledge of different types of injections and administration of prescribed medication under the supervision of a registered nurse.
– Learning how to insert IV tubes into different areas of the patient’s body and ensuring that equipment is working properly so that fluids and medication are administered without incident.
– Monitoring patient vital signs (e.g. heart rate and blood pressure)
– For diabetic patients, monitoring glucose levels and ensuring that insulin is administered as prescribed, whether orally or by injection.
– Documentation procedures for recording patient condition and treatment methods in the patient chart.
– Health and safety issues to include procedures for sterilization of used instruments, as well as limiting exposure to blood and fluids through the use of gloves and masks. This also applies to proper storage of medications.
– Nursing ethics and patient confidentiality as defined under the Health Information Patient Privacy Act (HIPPA).
– Preparation for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).
Choosing a CNA to LPN Program
When researching CNA to LPN programs be sure to ask the admissions office whether the program has received accreditation from the National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC). This agency has been recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Education as the official accreditation body for nursing education. Graduating from an accredited program will ensure that your diploma is recognized by your State Board of Nursing which will issue your LPN license. You can obtain a list of accredited programs by contacting your state board of nursing. Contact information for state boards may be found on the Web site of the National Council of State Board of Nursing (NCSBN.org).
Post Graduation from CNA to LPN Programs
After you graduate from the diploma program and pass the NCLEX-PN you will be prepared to assume a wider range of patient care responsibilities and be provided with greater autonomy than when working as a CNA. The increased responsibilities, along with national licensure, means that you will also earn a higher salary as an LPNs than as a CNA. LPNs may also choose to further their education and become fully registered nurses through LPN-RN bridge programs.
CNA to LPN Programs – Selected Reviews
Pratt Community College:
Pratt Community College, located in Pratt, Kansas, offers a wide range of nursing programs. The PCC nursing department offers a 1 + 1 Program for CNA to LPN. This is a two year program (formerly named the CNA to LPN program). The 1 + 1 Program offers two options for nursing students including on-campus and hybrid options. The hybrid option allows a portion of the education to be face-to-face while allowing some online coursework. The 1 + 1 Program is a part of the three-step nursing program – . Step 1 – CNA, Step 2 – LPN, and Step 3 – RN.
Pensacola State College:
Pensacola State College Department of Nursing offers a large variety of nursing programs including many bridge programs. PSC offers ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing), PN (Practical Nursing), and other nursing and surgical technical programs. The programs are geared towards helping those who have previous experience and education apply those skills towards a new degree. The nursing programs are the oldest such programs offered in Florida. Programs are designed around your specific needs and are offered on campus in Pensacola, Florida. Classes are flexible to provide working students the ability to complete courses.
Lincoln Technical Institute:
Lincoln Technical Institute offers classroom training for those who wish to go from CNA to LPN program. The LPN program offers both classroom and clinical studies to provide students with a well-rounded nursing education. The LPN program prepares students for work in the medical health field. The program takes less than two years to complete and is offered in local classrooms across the country. Upon completion of the program, students are able to pass the licensing exam to become LPNs in their state. Programs are flexible to allow working students to complete their studies in evenings and weekends if necessary. Classes can be started at various times to complete the program work in the most convenient order.
Oakton Community College
Oakton Community College in DesPlaines, Illinois offers nursing programs that include the CNA to LPN bridge program. The program allows nursing students who have already been working as CNAs the ability to bridge to the LPN program. Students will receive credit for their practical work experience to reduce the amount of time the program will take to complete. Upon successful completion of the program students will be prepared to take the licensing exam to become a LPN. OCC selects 20 students for the program.
Front Range Community College
Front Range Community College Nursing department is located in Westminster, Colorado. Nursing programs include the CNA to LPN program. Students with nursing experience and education as a certified nursing assistant may choose to improve their careers by entering an LPN program. The LPN program offer students a program that will allow them to take their careers to the next level. The LPN program offers a combination of classroom and laboratory courses to provide a complete experience. The program prepares students to take the licensing exam to become a Licensed Practical Nurse.