Houston LVN Program for Becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse Houston LVN Schools and the Advantages of a BSN

For those interested in starting a nursing career in Houston, two main educational paths exist – becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) or earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

LVNs provide basic nursing care under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. Any Houston LVN program can launch you into this rewarding career quickly, as they typically take 1-2 years to complete at Houston LVN schools. While the LVN route is faster and cheaper, the BSN provides more advanced nursing skills and higher earning potential in the long run.

What Is a Licensed Vocational Nurse?

The terms Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) are used interchangeably depending on your state – they refer to the same level of nurse licensing and scope of practice. For example, Texas uses the term LVN while Pennsylvania uses LPN. LVNs and LPNs have identical roles and responsibilities in providing basic nursing care and services. Key duties include:

  • Recording vital signs
  • Administering medications and treatments
  • Observing and monitoring patients
  • Assisting with activities of daily living
  • Reporting the patient’s condition to the RN or doctor
  • Performing basic nursing procedures like wound care

Why Become an LVN/LPN?

There are many excellent reasons to pursue an LVN or LPN career, including:

  • Faster education – LVN/LPN programs take 1-2 years, allowing you to enter the workforce quickly.
  • Job stability – Healthcare facilities will always need LVNs/LPNs to provide basic bedside care.
  • Stepping stone – An LVN/LPN license serves as a foundation to advance your nursing education.
  • Rewarding work – You’ll make a difference in patients’ lives through direct care.

LVN Programs in Houston

An LVN certificate or diploma takes just 1-2 years to complete through community colleges and technical schools. Houston has several community colleges and technical schools that will train you in the typical LVN duties, include taking vital signs, administering medications, and assisting with activities of daily living.

These programs combine classroom instruction in topics like anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and pharmacology with supervised clinical rotations at Houston-area hospitals and clinics. Typical admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED, minimum GPA, and certain immunizations.

However, LVN programs only cover basic nursing skills needed for entry-level work under an RN. LVNs earn significantly more than roles like nursing assistants, but significantly less than nurses with a BSN, and they have limited advancement opportunities.

Why Earn a BSN Degree Instead?

Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing prepares you for a much wider range of nursing careers. Here are some key reasons why investing the time to earn a BSN is advantageous:

  • Prepares you for advanced nursing practice – With a focus on research, leadership, and community health, a BSN enables RNs to take on greater responsibilities and roles.
  • Opens up more job settings – BSN nurses can qualify for prestigious positions in settings like hospitals, clinics, schools, government, home health, and more.
  • Higher salary potential – RNs with a BSN typically earn 20-30% more than LVNs or RNs with an Associate Degree in Nursing.
  • More advancement opportunities – A BSN is required for graduate nursing programs and specialized nursing credentials.
  • Enhanced professional credibility – BSN nurses are considered more knowledgeable and qualified by employers and colleagues.
  • Better patient outcomes – Research shows nurses with a BSN deliver improved patient care and safety.

Advantages of a BSN Degree

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) prepares registered nurses to provide more advanced, complex nursing care. With a BSN, nurses can qualify for higher-paying RN positions in a wider variety of healthcare settings. BSN programs build on LVN/LPN knowledge by teaching nursing research, leadership, and community health. A BSN degree opens doors to specialty nursing roles as well. The steps to becoming a nurse include completing an accredited nursing education and passing the licensing exam.

Earning your BSN opens up greater nursing career opportunities. The added education gives you the advanced skills needed to qualify for higher salaries, leadership roles, and jobs at prestigious healthcare facilities. Investing in a BSN degree provides an excellent return on investment in the form of boosted earning potential.

RN-to-BSN Advantages

The typical BSN takes 4 years to complete for basic students. However, many LVN to RN programs in Houston offer accelerated RN-to-BSN programs that allow licensed LVNs/LPNs to earn their BSN faster – often in just 1-2 years. Houston Christian University, for example, provides an innovative online RN-to-BSN program perfect for working LVNs/LPNs. This flexible program allows students to receive credit for prior nursing coursework. Doing an LVN-to-BSN or LPN-to-BSN bridge program is an excellent way to move forward. Not only will your existing medical knowledge help you advance quickly, but many employers offer tuition assistance for incumbent LPNs pursuing their BSN.

For licensed LVNs, accelerated RN-to-BSN programs allow completing your BSN quickly by granting credits for prior nursing coursework and experience. Earning those three coveted letters – BSN – can be a game-changer for advancing your nursing career and potential.

LVN vs. BSN Salaries in Houston

LVN Nurse Salary and Earning Potential

The LVN route is faster and cheaper, but the BSN provides significantly higher earning potential. The average annual salary for an LVN in Houston is around $48,000. Those just starting out make closer to $40,000, while experienced LVNs can top out around $60,000 per year. The key factors affecting LVN pay include:

  • Experience level
  • Work setting (hospital, clinic, etc)
  • Geographic location
  • Shift differentials for evenings, nights, weekends
  • Specialty certifications

However, LVN salaries are capped at a relatively low maximum due to the limited scope of practice and advancement opportunities.

BSN Nurse Salary and Earning Potential

In contrast, Registered Nurses with a BSN degree have far greater earning potential over their careers. The average BSN nurse in Houston earns approximately $75,000 per year. With experience and specializations, BSN nurses can earn well over $100,000 annually.

Other key differences in RN and BSN salaries:

  • Starting salaries for new BSN grads are around $60,000, already exceeding LVN pay.
  • No salary ceiling – BSN nurses continue increasing pay with experience.
  • Greater trajectory for raises and promotions to advanced roles.
  • Much higher potential bonuses and incentives.
  • Opportunities for overtime pay at 1.5x hourly rates.
  • Ability to earn national certification bonuses up to $10,000+ per year.

The enhanced career advancement, leadership roles, and specialty credentials afforded by a BSN degree translate into vastly higher lifetime earnings. While the BSN takes more time and investment upfront, the long-term return is well worth it for ambitious nursing professionals in Houston.