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CNA to LVN Degree and Training Program Options

Learn about degree programs designed for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) looking to advance to licensed vocational nurse (LVN) roles. Check out the educational prerequisites, program coursework, employment outlook projections and salary statistics.

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Essential Information

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is responsible for providing direct care to patients under the supervision of registered nurses and other medical personnel. Experienced CNAs can enroll in academic programs, such as a CNA-to-LVN associate's degree program, to earn the credentials necessary to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). Many of these programs are offered online or on nights and weekends to fit into the working schedules of professional CNAs. In addition to coursework, a major component of the program involves preparing for the NCLEX-PN board examinations. Most states require LVNs to gain licensure before they can practice nursing in a healthcare facility.

Not all CNA-to-LVN programs result in a degree. However, participants may be able to earn an associate's degree by pairing nursing training with required general education units.

Education Prerequisites

Schools offering CNA-to-LVN associate's degree programs typically require applicants to have at least five years of nursing assistant experience before they can enroll. However, specific requirements for aspiring LVNs vary by state. Incoming students should also hold high school diplomas or GED certificates.

Program Coursework

A CNA-to-LVN program provides nursing assistants with advanced lessons in nursing and patient care theory, as well as vocational nursing clinical training. They learn how to perform basic laboratory tests, check vital signs and monitor patient reactions to treatments.

The courses included within a CNA-to-LVN degree program are often divided between theory and training, with theory requirements totaling an average of nearly 600 hours and clinical requirements totaling an average of 900-1,000 hours. Some courses included in both components include:

  • Medical-surgical nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Mental health nursing
  • Oncological nursing
  • Circulatory and respiratory disorders
  • Nursing leadership and supervision
  • Pediatric nursing
  • Home healthcare
  • Nursing clinical

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed vocational nurses, also sometimes referred to as licensed practical nurses, held more than 700,000 jobs across the United States as of May 2012. In that year, they earned a median annual salary of $41,540, which is substantially more than the median annual salary earned by nursing assistants of $24,420 during that year.

Certification and Continuing Education

All LVNs must earn licensure by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nursing (NCLX-PN). Many LVNs who choose to advance in the nursing field enroll in LVN-to-RN programs in order to gain the credential necessary to become a registered nurse. At the this stage, individuals must sit for another examination, the NCLX-RN.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics