The Montana Department of Labor (2013) reports that there are over 3,000 LPNs and 8,700 RNs working in Montana, with almost 4000 new RN jobs predicted by 2020. Montana, one of the largest states in the U.S. geographically, enjoys a great deal of land area, but little population. That means recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals in the state can be a bit of a challenge, and reinforces the need for nurses educated past the LPN level, able to think critically and independently in their practice. Like many other institutions, nursing schools in Montana are working to create streamlined career pathways to encourage LPNs to become RNs. Of course, the financial incentive to obtain your LPN to RN is a factor as well, with O*net (2013) reporting that there is a $21,200 pay difference between the median LPN annual income of $37,000, and that of RNs, who enjoy a median annual income of $58,200.
Programs to Consider
University of Montana - Helena College of Technology. LPNs may complete the associate degree in nursing program in two full-time semesters (30 to 40 hours per week). Nursing courses cannot be challenged and include care of the maternal/child client, complex needs of the mental health client, microbiology, and complex care needs of the adult.
Montana State University (Bozeman). MSU allows LPNs to attend the first two years of the BSN program on a full-time or part-time basis. The last two years require full-time attendance. LPNs may challenge four of the sophomore level nursing classes totaling 13 credits. Admission is three times per year. Some courses are available at other sites (Billings, Great Falls, etc.).
Salish Kootenai College (Pablo). SKC offers the Associate of Science degree in nursing and the Bachelor of Science in nursing degree. LPNs may qualify for advanced placement in the ADN program and may receive credit for much of the first semester of nursing classes. Three more semesters are usually required. Students may then move into the BSN program if desired.