5 Steps on How to Transition from PN to RN

Posted by Athena Career Academy on Apr 4, 2017


The transition from a PN to RN accords you a higher salary, more responsibilities and allows you to advance your skills in nursing. PN to RN transition programs cater to nurses looking to further their education and careers. Your education and experiences as a PN serve as a starting point; a PN to RN program offers an in-depth curriculum at an accelerated pace.


PNs can choose between two education programs to qualify for the NCLEX-RN exam:

An Associate Degree

An associate degree, available at community colleges, vocational schools and in some universities, takes one to two years. After earning your associate’s degree, you qualify to work as an entry-level RN and oversee PNs. Your course work will focus a lot on adult health nursing the transition into an RN.

A Bachelor’s Degree (BSN)

A bachelor’s degree qualifies you for more promotions and autonomy on the job. You also access higher supervisory roles, such as managing other RNs. Your BSN takes two to four years at a 4-year college or university, allowing you to pick a specialization. You will cover a wide range of courses including nurse management, public health, and leadership.


Most institutions require you to complete a number of prerequisite courses before starting your higher-level nursing courses. Often, your educational background dictates the number and type of courses you take. Your pre-requisites also influence the amount of time you need to complete your transition from a PN to a RN. The pre-requisites fall into general education categories namely, general Chemistry; Anatomy and Physiology; English Composition; Biology and so forth.

Check with your school for time limits regarding pre-requisites; for example, some schools consider courses from five, seven or ten years ago invalid. Additionally, ask whether you can use your PN experience as credit. Some BSN programs allow you to leverage your experience, significantly shortening the length of your program.

Entrance Exams

Transition programs may require you to complete a couple of exams to test your competency before enrolling you. Some of the exams you will across include:

Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS)

This exam measures and evaluates your proficiency in English, Science, Math and reading. The tests will focus on your grammar, scientific reasoning, knowledge in algebraic formulas and understanding of life sciences.

National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Examination

The exam tests and evaluates your reading comprehension, knowledge in biology, health, geometry and earth science using a multiple choice format

Some institutions may also require language test in case English is not your native language. Always check with the school in advance.

Clinical Experience

Most PN to RN programs provide clinical work requirements. If you are working, you can request the school to evaluate your current experience as part of your clinical experience. Alternatively, look for a facility, either on you own or with the help of your school, which will allow you to work as you fulfill your program requirements. Always secure a facility in advance and ask for approval from your school.

The transition requires time and effort. Dedicate yourself to completing your education in good time and pass your licensing exam. Look at the challenges you encounter as an opportunity to build your character in preparation for more responsibilities as a RN.  

Start preparing yourself early for the PN to RN transition. Visit as many institutions as possible and consult with RNs in your facility, who have undergone a similar transition. Get started today by sitting down with our admission counselors at Athena Career Academy.

Schedule a Campus Tour at Athena Career Academy. We are the leading nursing school located in Toledo, Ohio.

Topics: Practical Nurses, RN