Many healthcare professionals look to make the switch to an RN position. Usually these healthcare professionals, such as LPNs, already know what an RN is and what an RN does. If you’re an LPN, you probably work with RNs every day. However, many LPNs do not expect the stresses that come from transitioning into the new role. There are two main concerns when making the switch from LPN to RN.

1. The loss of a “hands-on” role.
2. The feeling that what you learn in school is not valid in “real life” practice

Loss of a Hands-on Role

The loss of a “hands-on” role feeling comes from a study published in 2008 by the International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship. The study took a sample of students who had just graduated from an LPN to RN bridge program.

“Findings revealed that students appreciated recognition for their previous accomplishments. They valued affirmation of the unique challenges they faced. And, they associated gains from their new university education with some loss of their hands on bedside nursing role.”

What these students felt resonates even with LPNs today. Going from an LPN to RN positions means a loss of direct, hands-on patient interactions. For some LPNs, this comes as a relief. For other LPNs, this may mean reconsidering the jump to an RN licensure.

School Doesn’t Prepare for ‘Real Nursing Work’

The second feeling, “what professors teach in school is not ‘valid’ in practice”, comes with almost any healthcare career. The concern shows up in another study published in 2008, by the ScholarWorks foundation. The dissertation found themes in interviews with 25 nurses who had been practicing between 2 and 5 years. Each of these nurses had at least 1 year of experience in a specialized area of healthcare.

“Most respondents claimed that what they learned in school is not applicable in real life. In short, they were only trained to know how something is done rather than discovering the why behind it. In addition, their schools focused too much on skills and theories, thus leaving the practical experiences behind, making it very hard for them to adjust during their first days at work.”

When considering a career in nursing, it is important to understand that what they teach in nursing school can only prepare a foundation of knowledge, which real experiences will build on. Many new nurses who ace their nursing school exams still struggle to adjust to their new job. The foresight that comes with this knowledge can allow those considering the RN career path a real idea of whether they can cut it as an RN.

It is important to note that these two feelings are easy to overcome once you expect them. As it is with everything in life: knowledge is power. With this knowledge, you now have the power to determine if a nursing career is right for you.