Led by Dr. Jan Keys, nursing leadership at Erlanger Health System (EHS) has historically investigated and proposed innovative opportunities for nurses at all levels to further their education. While numerous other opportunities exist for further education, the focus of this article is on LPNs who wish to transition to RNs and the two EHS programs that facilitate the transition.
EHS first partnered with Chattanooga State Community College (CSCC) to bolster the number of students who could be accepted into the current LPN to RN program at CSCC. This partnership program has been operating for several years and is housed in the Erlanger Health Science Center at CSCC. As part of the partnership between the two organizations, EHS provided and funded a nursing professor at CSCC to enable more access for LPNs as the extra faculty member allowed CSCC to add more seats in the program.
Based upon the success of the CSCC partnership, EHS realized the need for additional LPN to RN transition programs to meet the numbers of LPNs who were interested in the transition. As the end of 2018 drew near, EHS partnered with East Tennessee State University (ETSU) to bring a LPN to BSN program to EHS’s University Campus. This accelerated program spans four semesters and is the first of its kind in Chattanooga. With very little time before the beginning of next semester, both EHS and ETSU worked feverishly so that students could begin the program in January 2019. Even though the class can accommodate up to 30 students here in Chattanooga, the first cohort started with seven students. For the second cohort which begins in the summer, 20 LPNs were accepted into the program at EHS. The program was designed for LPNs employed by EHS so only slots in the program that are not filled by EHS LPNs are offered to non-EHS LPNs. ETSU can admit 30 students each semester to the EHS campus cohort. Hence, this one program has the potential to graduate 120 nurses each year!
While the LPN to BSN program is a four semester program, students must complete all pre-requisite classes prior to enrollment into the LPN to BSN program. There are several features of this program that are very student-friendly. First, a student’s pre-requisites, once passed, do not have an expiration date. This allows the student to meet the requirement for pre-requisites without having to repeat classes. Secondly, the class meets at night two times a week. This allows the student to continue to work. Clinical experiences are mostly on the weekend with some Fridays as well.
While the LPN to RN transition at CSCC consists of in-classes at CSCC, the LPN to BSN program utilizes online classes for some courses and then other classes meet twice each week at the EHS University Campus. During these classes, students from across the state are connected via video and audio feeds to the classroom in Johnson City. The students interact with each other and with the instructor via these links. Clinical experiences include rotations in behavioral health, obstetrics, and pediatrics — all of which are available locally. Clinical instructors are mostly EHS employed nurses. In addition to the standard EHS tuition reimbursement, and the annual EHS nursing scholarships, ETSU assists students with obtaining financial aid through grants, scholarships, federal loans, and private loans. Additionally, ETSU has a dedicated advisor who can review transcripts in order to determine which previous courses will transfer into the program.
LPNs interested in the ETSU/Erlanger LPN to BSN program can find additional information including a link to the application here. LPNs interested in the CSCC/Erlanger LPN to ADN program can find more information here.
In addition to these two Erlanger affiliated programs, other LPN to RN programs exist in the area and region. While not every LPN desires to transition to a RN, there are now enough seats locally to satisfy the demand from those who do wish to transition. Also, there is now a choice to pursue either an ADN or a BSN. Erlanger is excited for both partnerships and we look forward to the transition of these students.