A new regulation in Montana requires that LPNs have 24 contact hours of continuing education every two years in order to renew their licenses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there are 2,920 LPNs in Montana and 8,500 RNs. A detailed report by the Montana Healthcare Workforce Advisory Committee (MHWAC) finds that an additional 1,500 RNs and 585 LPNs will be needed in the state by 2018. Montana is the fourth largest state in the U.S. but is 44th in population. That means recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals in the state is always a challenge.
The MHWAC report recommends that Montana employers and educational institutions work to create streamlined career pathways to encourage LPNs to become RNs. The Montana Board of Nursing states LPNs can only serve as charge nurses in the absence of an RN in a long-term care facility. In Montana, LPNs earn $22,200 less per year than RNs do, according to the BLS.
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.