Should I become an LPN before I become an RN?

By | 2022-02-08T17:34:41-05:00 January 19th, 2009|1 Comment


Dear Donna,

I am 39. Would I be wasting time entering a LPN program, or would I benefit more by going directly to an RN program? I would also like to know what career advancement opportunities are available after obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Katerinia,

If becoming an RN is your ultimate goal, then enrolling in an RN program now would make most sense. However, many RN programs have two- or three-year waiting lists to get in. Many RN candidates who cannot get into an RN program right away become LPNs in the interim so they can work as a nurse while waiting for acceptance. The benefit is that you get great experience while continuing your nursing education. Also, there are several programs exclusively for LPNs to become RNs. You would be eligible for those, and that might increase your chances of getting into a school if that is a challenge.

The higher your degree, the more opportunities will be available to you. It’s hard to enumerate every possibility, but suffice it to say that they will be there. More education is better, but it doesn’t have to be immediate. You can continue your education as you go along.

Follow your heart, and start moving forward. The rest will work itself out.

My best wishes,


Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’s “Dear Donna” and author of Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional and The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career. Information about the books is available at and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call (800) 866-0919 or visit


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One Comment

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    Kenisha December 2, 2019 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Do you have to be LPN first or you can go straight to the RN program?

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