A large number licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) are seeking to advance their skills as one of the major avenues of attaining the status of a registered nurse(RN).The transition provides LVNs with the opportunity to test themselves in more challenging hospital settings and also acquire knowledge in new roles as professionals .These roles require further education and facilitators of this transition need to provide the necessary resources that are essential for the actualization of the new status.
It is important for nurses who wish to upgrade their skills be transitioned into new roles as it helps to address the problem of the nurse-patient ratio in the United States. The demand for RNs in the country has increased significantly over the recent years due to an aging population, an aging nursing workforce, increased incidences of chronic illnesses, and high rates of turnover (McDermid, Peters, Jackson, & Daly, 2012). Projection reports indicate that the demand for nurses in the US will reach 3,449,300 by 2020.Similar reports also show that the shortage of nurses across the country will rise to 260,000 by 2025, a deficit that was experienced in the 1960s (Cox, Wills & Coustasse,2014). These statistics suggest that more nurses are needed in the workforce and, as such, it is critical that more nurses are transitioned into RNs to address staffing problems.
Transformation in the health sector is also an important reason for transitioning nurses into professionals. LVNs offer essential health care services, but changes in technology and evidence-based practices has necessitated that nurses acquire certain competencies for them to effectively provide health services in the current environment that is awash with numerous challenges(Gordon, Melrose, Janzen, & Miller, 2013).Change brings new ways of offering care in both hospital and home settings. This transition creates the potential for quality patient outcomes as well as encourages career mobility for the LVNs.
Despite the dominant position factors such as shortage of nurses and changes in nursing practices occupy in transitioning nurses from LVN status to RN, the main goal for such educational opportunities is to enhance the quality of patient outcomes (Gordon et al., 2013).The process begins by enrolling for an RN program that is approved by the appropriate nursing authority. BSN programs aim at adding new knowledge to LVNs so as to build on the solid foundation of skills that such nurses acquire while practicing at the vocational level. Academic exposures are meant to train the nurses on how to integrate quality care with the safety of patients (Cox, Wills & Coustasse, 2014). The training process entails instruction on how to adhere to the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) standards that have been developed by nursing educators. As Duphily (2014) and Gordon et al. (2013) reveal, transitioning roles from LVN level to BSN enables nurses to acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes critical to ensuring safer workplace cultures and effective systems of care in a dynamic healthcare environment. For instance, the upgrade programs seek to instill competence in leadership and management in prospective RNs and also stimulate critical thinking, an attribute that is pivotal for quality health service delivery. LVNs are also taught about cultural intelligence, information technology and ethical standards of registered nurses (Duphily, 2014).
Professional socialization is one of the avenues that role transition from LVNs to BSN is realized. This process entails acquiring professional skills in the provision health care with the help of social agents such as instructors, mentors, and workmates (Duphily, 2014). According to Duphily, professionalization entails initiation into a new culture where LVNs are required to adopt symbols that are reflective of a registered nurse and also have the full backing of those that are in authority in so far as hierarchy in health care is concerned. Moreover, in clinical environments, collaboration and engagement are important because they enable student nurses to construct knowledge and make sense of clinical issues as they develop as professionals (Gordon et al., 2013). This is aspect of the training is critical in the sense that prospective BSNs learn about delegation, responsibility, and teamwork which are essential elements for safer and quality service delivery.
Courses on critical thinking and evidenced-based practice that are offered in BSN programs play a vital role in the realization of safety and quality in health care. According to Duphily (2014), critical thinking is an essential ingredient in evidence-based practice as it instills skills needed for nurses to come up with innovative decisions in health care. In other words, the course molds learners into self-directed and independent practitioners who are in control of their development as professional nurses. And since working as a registered nurse confers more responsibility than those expected of LVNs, it is imperative that the students learn skills that could help make quick and safe decisions in various hospital settings. At the same time, students are exposed to ethical and legal standards within which evidence-based practice can be actualized. For example, courses on rights of patients and responsibilities of nurses allow students to understand the significance patients values, preferences and needs for safe and quality in patient-centered care (Duphily, 2014; Ulrich et al., 2010).
Nursing shortages and the drive to enhance careers motivate LVNs to upgrade their skills. Role transition from LVNs to RNs entails equipping BSN students with knowledge and skills vital for them to handle new responsibilities in leadership and management so as to enhance safety and quality of patient care. Also, the transition equips the nurses with new techniques of implementing evidence-based practices. Evidently, the transition helps to address the health care issues in US hospitals while attending to career aspirations of nurses.
Cox, P., Willis, W. K., & Coustasse, A. (2014). The American Epidemic: The US nursing shortage and turnover problem. Marshall University. Retrieved from http://mds.marshall.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1125&context=mgmt_faculty
Duphily, N. H. (2014). The Road Now Taken: Addressing the Needs of the LPN Returning to Academia. Nursing and Health, 2(6), 131-136. doi:10.13189/nh.2014.020605
Gordon, K., Melrose, S., Janzen, K. J., & Miller, J. (2013). Licensed Practical Nurses becoming Registered Nurses: Conflicts and responses that can help. Clinical Nursing Studies, 1(4), 1-8. doi:10.5430/cns.v1n4p1
McDermid, F., Peters, K., Jackson, D., & Daly, J. (2012). Factors contributing to the shortage of nurse faculty: A review of the literature. Nurse Education Today, 32(5), 565-569. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2012.01.011
Ulrich, C. M., Taylor, C., Soeken, K., ODonnell, P., Farrar, A., Danis, M., & Grady, C. (2010). Everyday ethics: ethical issues and stress in nursing practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 66(11), 2510-2519. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2648.2010.05425.x
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