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I am an LPN considering pursuing an associate degree. What is the best and quickest way to do this, considering my age?

Wednesday November 21, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I received my LPN license in 1974 and am considering pursuing an associate degree. Unfortunately, my education was a certificate program through the public school system at a vocational-technical school. Would I be better off taking classes for my general credits or is it worth my time and money to take classes online to earn an associate degree in healthcare management? Would I then need to go to a local school to earn the credits required to take the nursing board exam? I'm very confused about the best and the quickest way to do this. I'm no spring chicken anymore.

Confused LPN

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Confused LPN,

I am assuming you are interested in becoming an RN because you mention of taking boards. Higher education is becoming the standard in nursing today. Because you are an LPN, I suggest you look for an LPN-to-RN/BSN program. You may need to complete all of the requirements for a BSN program because of your original education. But you should be able to take many of those courses online.

You could find an LPN-to-RN associate degree program (rather than one in health care management), but the truth is associate degree RNs are having difficulty finding jobs in today's job market, even in long-term care. However, you could start with the ADN and then go on for a BSN. I understand you're "no spring chicken," but everyone is living and working longer today — so investing in your future is a good idea either way. Higher education is a gift you give yourself. I always say go back to school for yourself first and your career second, at any age. Read “Go back to school and change your life” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/BacktoSchool).

Be aware that there is plenty of scholarship money available. Read “Master the scholarship game” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/ScholarshipGame). There are many people in "mid-life" and beyond in college today, so you would fit right in.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.