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What is an RN Bridge Program?
An RN bridge program is for registered nurses or other medical personnel already working in their field that want to either earn their master’s degree or have a lesser nursing job and want to be able to qualify as a registered nurse. Most nurses in this predicament feel that they cannot advance in their field without having to repeat four years of college plus the time it would take to earn their master’s degree in nursing.
RN bridge programs serve as a “bridge” across the gap of your bachelor’s degree into your master’s degree in nursing. In these programs, you will combine the knowledge you learned as a registered nurse with what you learned in undergraduate school and work towards a Master of Science in Nursing degree. All without having to repeat any college!
Who Qualifies for RN Bridge Programs?
As long as you have worked in the medical field and completed the proper schooling for that job, anyone can apply to an RN bridge program. There are many categories for RN bridge programs such as:
- RN to MSN (Master of Science in Nursing)
- paramedic to RN
- licensed vocational nurse (LVN) to RN
- licensed practical nurses (LPN) to RN
Additional bridging programs available in the healthcare field are:
- CNA to LPN bridge programs
- PA to MD bridge programs
- NP to MD bridge programs
These programs help all sorts of people who want to advance their careers, but have been hindered by what they thought was an inferior education. If you have the motivation to obtain a master’s degree in nursing, there are colleges out there ready to help you cross the bridge.
Where Can I Find RN Bridge Programs?
Bridge programs for registered nurses are not difficult to find. Most colleges with nursing programs understand that medical professionals want to go back to school and learn more skills, but still have to balance work and family with time for school. The whole thing can be quite the hectic affair. That is why many accredited colleges that have a nursing program also have an bridge program for their master’s degree.
The best news for a busy nurse is that many of these bridge programs offer courses online so you can do them at your leisure. Though in a field like nursing, not everything can be done online. Major examinations or practical learning exercises may require you to visit a physical location. So it would be best to find a college in your area so you do not have to take a plane every couple of weeks across the country.
What to Expect from an Bridge Program?
If you are already a registered nurse, the credits from your nursing program will transfer over well to many RN to MSN bridge programs, so the time it takes to earn the degree will be significantly less. You will be looking to spend about one year in an RN bridge program, then you will be able to go to school to obtain your master’s degree. If you are not an RN but are an LPN, LVN, or paramedic looking to become an RN, the RN bridge program will take about one year as well before you are able to take the examination to become a registered nurse.
The length of an RN bridge program also depends on how many general classes your previous degree satisfied. If you took very few or no medical classes while obtaining your undergraduate degree, you may be required to take classes like chemistry, anatomy, and microbiology. Before you begin any of the classes in the RN bridge program, you will first have to fill in any perquisite classes that you may have missed. This could lengthen the time it takes you to complete the bridge program.
For nurses working towards their master’s degree you should expect to take such classes as leadership in healthcare systems, public health, and health care informatics. You will also take courses for specialized nursing such as acute care nurse, adult clinical nurse, and family practitioner nurse. These will help you get the most well rounded education as would be expected of a nurse who has a master’s degree.