Choose a Bridge Program
Nursing Bridge Programs: How They Work
Among all the nurses employed in the US, not all of them decided to enter the field right after college, and not all of them obtained their master’s degree in the field early.
Many people started in the workforce in another career and switched to the nursing field.
There are also many people who started with an associate’s degree in nursing (LPN) and continued their education later.
The way for them to do it is through a nursing bridge program available both online and on-campus through degree programs.
Upon completion of most nursing bridge programs, you can earn either a bachelor’s of science degree (BSN) or a master’s of science degree (MSN):
- RN/LPN to BSN.
- Accelerated BSN.
- MSN without BSN.
- Direct Entry MSN.
- RN/LPN to MSN.
Nursing Bridge Program Advantages
The biggest advantage of nursing bridge programs is that you can earn your next college degree having an associate’s or bachelor’s degree without the need to complete full three or four years of college.
They are designed for RNs with associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in another field who wish to earn a graduate degree in nursing.
These programs are also a perfect option for LPNs with an associate’s degree who wish to earn a BSN or even MSN.
Through a good nursing bridge program, you can gain the skills and knowledge necessary to earn a master’s degree and become a nurse with a higher-paying specialty.
An example of such a specialty is a certified nurse practitioner.
Online Bridge Program Advantages
Another great advantage of bridge programs is that many of them are available online.
For many of them, you don’t even need to pass a GRE.
Distance learning is more time-efficient and allows you to earn your nursing degree faster.
An online bridge program is a perfect option for working LPNs who wish to become RNs with a bachelor’s degree or RNs who pursue a Master of Science in Nursing.
Since you complete most of your studies online, you will have a flexible schedule, easy access to your professors, and courses you take.
Usually, there’s no need to commute with an online bridge program.
You can take your classes after work.
Some programs allow you to take classes whenever you wish or can, this is the asynchronous model of study.
In the synchronous model, you will have to log on with your classmates and professors to take the class together.
Finding a good online nursing bridge program can help you save a lot of time and money.
You won’t need to retake classes that cover something you studied before.
So, you can become an RN or earn your MSN faster.
Lab and Clinicals Information
Whether you are earning a BSN or MSN degree, you will have to complete lab and clinical work as a part of your degree.
Taking a traditional program, you will complete them in the area where you are taking your classes.
With the online program, you will have to do clinical and lab work locally in your area.
Another great advantage of the nursing bridge programs is that you can transfer your previous experience to count for lab and clinical work for the degree.
This can also save you a lot of time.
You have to check with the nursing program advisor to determine which credits you can earn from your clinical work experience.
RN to MSN Bridge Program
One of the most popular programs is the RN to MSN.
With this program, you can go from your nursing or associate’s degree to a master’s degree.
Such programs may not be suitable for every nurse.
Your nursing degree should be from a fully accredited program, and you will need to complete some additional prerequisites.
These requirements depend on the program.
Upon acceptance of the bridge program, you will need to complete 24 hours of bridge course-work before you start working toward the requirements of the master’s degree.
The most common nursing bridge specialties of the MSN include:
- Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist.
- Nursing Leadership.
- Public Health.
- Acute Care Practitioner.
- Family Nurse Practitioner.
- Nursing Education.
Another option is having an RN designation with a diploma or an associate’s degree in nursing, and take a program to a BSN.
This is not as time-consuming or hard as a bridge program for an MSN.
Also, you can pursue an MSN later if you want to advance your specialty in the nursing field.
Despite the bridge program you choose, you can increase your income and advance your career with this educational path.
Nursing Bridge Program FAQ
If you have additional questions about BSN or MSN programs, read the FAQs section below:
Q: Do I need to have a nursing license to participate in these programs?
If you are a working LPN, you need your LPN license for your RN designation as you pursue your BSN.
After, you will have to take an RN licensing exam after completing the BSN program.
If you are earning an MSN, you should be a practicing RN.
Q: Should my online program be accredited?
Any nursing degree program you are considering should be accredited by such an organization as Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Other accrediting bodies include those sanctioned by the US Department of Education:
- The Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
- The New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
- The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
- The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
- The Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The proper accreditation ensures that your program and degree will be recognized by future employers.
Q: Do I need to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing to get into an MSN bridge program?
A: You will have to check with the specific university, but many bridge programs are designed for students with a bachelor’s degree in another field.
You can obtain an MSN by completing core classes in nursing before you move to the master’s level courses.
Some of such programs are available online, but you need to check if the school you wish to enroll in offers such programs.
Q: How are clinicals arranged if I go to an online school?
A: Typically, students have to arrange their clinical site hours in their home area with a local provider.
The site you choose should be approved by the coordinator or supervisor of your degree program.
You won’t have to be employed by that clinical site.
While completing clinical rotations, you will have a supervisor who will report to your degree program supervisor on the completed hours.
Keep in mind, you can have your previous nursing experience as an LPN and RN to count to the required clinical hours.
Check this with your program supervisor.
Q: Can I transfer credit hours from another university into a BSN or MSN bridge program?
A: You need to confirm this with your specific university, but typically, you can transfer some credit hours.
Q: How long does it take to complete a BSN or MSN bridge program?
A: It depends on the number of transferred classes and how many you take per quarter.
Most students take 2 or 3 classes in the BSN or MSN path.
It would mean that you could complete a BSN program within 4 to 5 years, and MSN, in about three.
There is a maximum number of years you can have to complete the degree through the bridge programs.
Check with your school.