LVN to BSN Programs in California

Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) in California may begin a career as a fully registered nurse on an accelerated basis through participation in a LVN to BSN program. Due to an increased appreciation of credentials among employers in all types of health care settings, registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree are much preferred for entry-level positions over those nurses possessing a diploma or associate’s degree. Graduates of LVN to BSN programs are able to accept nursing jobs that offer autonomy challenge, responsibility, along with increased earnings.

Overview of  LVN to BSN Bridge Programs in California

LVN to BSN bachelor degree programs are (often known as “bridge” degree programs) allow LVNs to apply directly to bachelor degree program without first having to complete an associate in nursing degree (ASN or ADN).  While associate degree program focus on providing a foundation in basic nursing practice, bachelor programs focus on instructing students in advanced patient care, health evaluation, care planning, and management theory. The focus on management principles arises from the recognition by many BSN programs that graduates will seek to advance their career in supervisory and management positions .

LVN to BSN programs are considered to be accelerated for two primary reasons: 1) students are expected to have taken certain prerequisite coursework prior to entry and to have accrued relevant work experience. In each instance, students may be provided transfer credit that will reduce the total number of credits required in the BSN program; and 2) students enrolled in LVN to BSN programs will take a heavier course load per semester than will students enrolled in traditional BSN programs. Full-time students may complete the LVN to BSN program within three years while working nurses who attend on a part-time schedule will need up to four years or more to finish the degree.

Licensing and Advanced Education

After graduating from an LVN to BSN program in California, students may take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) administered by the National Council for State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

Admission Requirements

Admission to LVN to BSN  programs in California (CA) is somewhat selective with applicants needing to meet several criteria. Entrance requirements include possession of a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED), a current and unrestricted LVN license, letters of recommendation from former instructors or current supervisors, along with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher from your diploma program. Students must also present certain prerequisite coursework such as human anatomy and physiology, microbiology, basic chemistry, pharmacology, nutrition, as well as ethical issues in nursing practice. Some LVN to BSN programs also require candidates to submit scores from such standardized tests as the ACT or SAT.

LVN to BSN Program Curriculum

Bachelor’s programs provide in-depth study of nursing practice to prepare students to assume advanced patient care responsibilities upon graduation. Core coursework will commonly include:

  • Biochemistry and organic chemistry I and II
  • Nursing theory and advanced practice
  • Health evaluation and patient care planning
  • Pediatric and adult nursing care
  • Principles of family medicine
  • Nursing management theory and practice
  • Statistics in nursing practice
  • Advanced medical terminology
  • Patient and family communication skills

During the clinical part of the LVN to BSN program, students will have the opportunity to assume many of the responsibilities typically carried out by RNs. The clinical practicum will be offered in a variety of healthcare settings, to include medical and rehabilitation hospitals, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, nursing homes, and private physician offices.

Students may participate  in LVN-BSN programs in a traditional campus-based formats or via distance learning options. Students who elect to participate in distance learning programs will still need to complete a clinical practicum in patient care at a local healthcare facility or agency.

Many RNs who have graduated from LVN to BSN programs in California choose to further their education by enrolling in master’s level study. Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs prepare graduates to start a career as advanced practice nurse in a variety of specialty areas, such as nurse anesthetists, nurse mid-wives, and nurse practitioner.

Selecting a LVN to BSN Program in California

When researching LVN-BSN programs in California, be sure the program has been accredited by the National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).  Both agencies have been recognized by the U.S. Department of as official accreditation bodies for nursing education at the diploma, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate levels. Graduating from an accredited LPN to BSN program will ensure that your diploma is recognized by the California State Board of Nursing which will issue your registered nurse (RN) license.

Accredited LVN to BSN programs in California as per the American Association of Colleges of Nursing

American University of Health Sciences

Azusa Pacific University

Biola University

California State University – San Marcos

California State University-Chico

California State University-Fullerton

California State University-Long Beach

California State University-Northridge

California State University-Sacramento

California State University-Stanislaus

Dominican University of California

Holy Names University

Humboldt State University

Loma Linda University

Mount Saint Mary’s College

Dillard University

Point Loma Nazarene University

San Jose State University

University of California-Los Angeles

West Coast University

Career Options

As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for registered nurses is anticipated to be 22 percent through the year 2018 with the need for an additional 589,000 nurses in all areas of the country. This demand arises from the continuing aging of the population with their increased needs for medical services, along with the serious doctor shortage across the country with nurses be the primary caretakers in many underserved areas.

Graduates of LVN to BSN in California programs are eligible for a wide range of nursing employment in many areas of specialization, such pediatric and adult care, family medicine, gerontology (elder care), reproductive health,  emergency medicine, oncology (cancer-care),  and cardiology.

Popular employers  with median salaries (as per BLS) are:

  • Corporate health offices                                       $68,160
  • Private physician offices                                       $67,290
  • Medical and surgical hospitals                              $63,880
  • Home health agencies                                           $63,300
  • Nursing facilities                                                   $59,320

Note that the above figures are median earnings and actual salary will depend on your geographic location, job title and specialty area ( intensive care and emergency nurses tend to be paid higher than those who work in pediatrics or adult health), years of experience, and certifications held.

LVN to BSN Programs in California – Selected Reviews

California State University:

California State University offers the BSN program at several campus locations including Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Sacramento.  CSU is known for their excellent nursing program.  They offer plenty of options including bridge programs for those nurses with practical experience.  The BSN bridge program may be completed in three years of less depending on your previous education and experience.  Applicants must meet the general requirements and must show proof of current license.

Dominican University:

Dominican University Nursing School offers BSN programs and LVN to BSN bridge programs.  Those who qualify may start the BSN program at the sophomore level.  Dominican University is located about 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marion County, California.  Nursing students are required to take the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) and must meet a minimum score in order to be eligible to enter the program.  Additionally, students who are in the nursing program must remain in good academic standing to stay in the program.

San Diego State University School of Nursing:

The San Diego State University School of Nursing is located in San Diego, California.  The school of nursing offers nursing programs including BSN and MSN degrees.  The program offers credit for previous coursework and offers flexible class schedules for those nurses who are working while taking the program.  Students must meet criteria for the program and must contact the nursing department to get special program planning and advising before signing up for classes.

Holy Names College School of Nursing:

Holy Names College offers a BSN program and LVN to BSN bridge program.  Holy Names College is located in Oakland, California.  The Nursing School is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).  The LVN to BSN program is offered on campus.  Classes meet in late afternoons and evenings to allow nurses to work while completing the program. The LVN to BSN program is completed in 2 ½ years of continuous study (including summer sessions).

West Coast University

West Coast University offers LVN to BSN programs at several of their locations.  The courses provide students flexibility with both on-campus and optional online instruction.  Students receive credit for clinical nursing experience and prior education.  The program allows students to attain their BSN degree in slightly under three years. Locations include Los Angeles, Ontario, and Orange County campuses in California.  Licensed vocational nurses must have a current license and must meet general admission requirements to enter the program.

Pacific Union College

Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, offers nursing degrees and bridge programs including a LVN to BSN program.  Licensed vocational nurses with clinical experience can gain credits for their knowledge to reduce the length of time to complete the BSN degree.  The “second step” program accommodates working professionals.  Courses may be taken full or part time and students are able to schedule their own clinical schedules.  Nursing students must meet general admission requirements and must provide current licensing proof.  Students are able to attain a BSN in two to three years.