LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition


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1. Introduction

This paper presents findings from a qualitative descriptive study that explored the professional socialization experiences of Licensed Practical Nurses LPNs who attended an online university to earn a Baccalaureate degree in nursing BN , a prerequisite to writing the Canadian Registered Nurse RN qualifying exam. The project was framed from a constructivist worldview and Haas and Shaffir's theory of legitimation. Data was collected from digital recordings of four focus groups held in different cities. Transcripts were analyzed for themes and confirmed with participants through member checking.

Two overarching themes were identified and are presented to explain how these unique adult learners sought to legitimize their emerging identity as Registered Nurses RNs. Vocationally educated Licensed Practical Nurses LPNs who enter an online university to upgrade their credentials by earning a Bachelor of Nursing BN degree can find the experience of socializing into a new and more complex professional role challenging [ 1 , 2 ]. Professional socialization is the process of learning a professional role and emerging as a member of an occupational culture [ 3 ].

A key element within the overarching process of professional socialization is legitimation or the experience of gaining a sense of affirmation from socializing agents [ 4 , 5 ]. Traditionally, opportunities for transitioning between vocational colleges and universities were limited [ 6 — 8 ]. Although few universities offer bridging programs for Licensed Practical Nurses, participants in the present study attended a new program where they were awarded prior academic credit for their previous nursing credential. To date, educational research examining this group of nurses is limited.

This paper describes findings from a qualitative descriptive study that investigated the professional socialization experiences of 27 Post-LPN to BN students.


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Although most of the nurses' courses are offered online and are completed independently at their own pace, small groups of LPN to BN students do meet face to face for required practicum experiences. The practicum experiences are only offered in two Canadian cities, and students are required to travel to these locations for four-week periods. Over a period of two university terms, our project facilitators conducted focus group discussions with four different groups of students attending practicums.

Participants in our focus groups were in their final cluster of required courses. By explaining students' perceptions of the legitimation experiences and socializing agents that helped them feel as though they were becoming Registered Nurses, we offer important insights for university educators who teach this new group of adult learners. Insights into the experiences that Post LPN to BN students themselves believe are affirming to their professional socialization can help educators facilitate clinical learning experiences that are relevant and meaningful. Defining professional socialization is not straightforward.

Socialization is a process where individuals acquire a personal identity and learn the values, norms, behaviors, and social skills appropriate to their social positions [ 9 ]. It includes the formation of an individual professional identity, where students come to view themselves as members of a profession with the knowledge and responsibilities which attend membership. It is thus an inherently social process [ 11 ]. In health care education, previous research has expanded our understanding of professional socialization. In social work, the process can include only limited changes in students' preprogram preferences [ 15 ] and the value and attitude dimensions have been identified as difficult to measure [ 16 ].

In physical therapy, the process is highly influenced by interactions with peers and faculty [ 17 ], by legitimation from socializing agents such as patients and clinical instructors [ 5 ], and by communication with practitioners [ 18 ]. In nursing education, previous research has examined professional socialization among select groups of student nurses, for example, traditional undergraduate nursing students [ 19 , 20 ], undergraduate students specializing in community nursing [ 21 ], accelerated after degree students [ 22 ], male students [ 23 ], and students in distance programs [ 24 ].

Further, the experiences of select groups of Registered Nurses who upgrade their credentials have been explored. Finally, the legitimacy of nursing as an academic discipline has been examined [ 29 ]. Although an abundance of literature on professional socialization exists, there is a gap in our understanding of the experiences of vocationally educated nurses who attend university to earn their Registered Nurse RN credential.

Given the differences in role socialization between these two groups of nurses, when LPN to BN students undertake a mainly self-paced online curriculum, it is particularly important to examine the socializing agents that strengthen their feelings of legitimation when they meet faculty, peers, and patients face to face.

Legitimation, a critical element within the process of professional socialization, occurs when those around learners affirm that they are actually developing an identity as a member of their chosen profession [ 3 ]. As students are professionalized, they are initiated into a new culture wherein they gradually adopt those symbols which represent the profession and its generally accepted authority.

These symbols language, tools, clothing and demeanour establish, identify and separate the bearer from the outsider, particularly from the client and the paraprofessional audience [ 4 ] page Traditional symbols of legitimization in health care fields included white laboratory coats for medical students [ 13 ] and white caps for nursing students [ 3 ].

Today, name badges remain one of the few symbols of authority and legitimation that health care professionals continue to use as socializing agents. Their admission process did not include interviews, and they completed courses and examinations online at their own pace. Their only opportunity to meet faculty in person and join a cohort group was during their clinical practicums. Finally, people such as faculty, peers, patients, and practitioners are important socializing agents that reinforce legitimation [ 4 , 5 , 17 , 18 ]. Faculty evaluations of student progress and learning experiences that are new and different provide students with affirmation that they are progressing towards being granted professional legitimation and status.

As part of an overarching program of research examining Post LPN to BN transitions, our research team questioned how Post LPN to BN students perceived their own processes of professional socialization and the kinds of formal and informal socializing agents of legitimation that contributed to or distracted from their growing identity as Registered Nurses.

This qualitative descriptive project was framed from a constructivist worldview [ 32 — 34 ] and Haas and Shaffir's [ 4 ] sociological theory of professionalization.

Role Transition

Haas and Shaffir theorized that legitimation is a central concept in healthcare professionals' process of socialization. The main purpose of the research was to describe Post LPN to BN student nurses' experiences with professional socialization as they transitioned into a more complex nursing role. A secondary purpose of the research was to begin to understand how university faculty can best support and facilitate these students' professional socialization as they learn to become Registered Nurses RNs.

LPN Salary Income - How Much Money Does a Licensed Practical Nurse Make?

Data sources included four face-to-face digitally recorded, transcribed focus group discussions which were analyzed for themes. Our rational for collecting and analyzing focus group data centered on our intention to invite our participants to converse and interact in ways that stimulated new insights. Focus group methodology, with its emphasis on group interaction [ 35 — 39 ] and goal of collaborative discussion [ 40 , 41 ], allowed us to draw out participants' views and to explore their ideas and conversational exchanges with one another in depth.

They are a useful method for gaining insight into phenomena where little is known [ 44 ]. When focus group data has been collected from multiple groups and multiple sites, researchers can have increased confidence in the reliability and validity of the findings [ 45 ]. Share memories of your experiences becoming socialized into the role of Licensed Practical Nurse and developing your identity in this role.

How is the experience of developing your new role and identity as a Registered Nurse the same? How is it different? What distracted? How do your existing professional Licensed Practical Nurse commitments contribute to your process of becoming socialized into the role of Registered Nurse? How do they distract? Talk about the sorts of things that are going on in your life with family and friends that impact your changing role and professional identity. Transcripts from the focus group discussions were analysed for themes [ 46 — 48 ]. Our research team thoroughly read and reread the transcripts and met regularly to develop a systematic process of thematic analysis.

We used investigator triangulation [ 49 , 50 ] to create and agree upon the categorizations and coding schemes that led to our themes. Our themes appeared consistently in each of the four focus groups. Trustworthiness was established by member checking with participants to ensure authenticity. Several strategies were utilized to increase rigor [ 45 , 51 ].

Stability was enhanced through the use of multiple focus groups in geographically different areas. Credibility was strengthened through sustained engagement and observation over the course of four focus groups, researcher triangulation, debriefing as a research team, and member checking. Reflexivity, where researchers strive to understand their own experiences as well as the research question, in order to remain objective, neutral, and nonbiased, was supported through regular face-to-face and teleconference meetings. Transferability was enriched through dense sample description and rich description of the data.

Confirmability was heightened through peer debriefing and maintaining our audit trail. Dependability was attained by recording a log of our plans, meetings, and ongoing interpretations. Tracking individual responses in addition to the group account [ 53 ] assisted us in avoiding the risk of analyzing data from only vocally dominant members of the groups.

Practical issues such as organizing groups at a time and place to minimize disruption and avoiding power differential dynamics [ 55 ] were addressed. The groups were held when participants, who were normally separated by distance, were together in the same city for a required practicum experience. They were held at change of shift in lieu of a post conference. Knowing the power differential between students and teachers, moderators who did not have teaching responsibilities in the Post LPN to BN program were chosen to facilitate the focus groups. Instructors were not present during any of the discussions and had no involvement with the transcript data.

Participants were recruited through a Letter of Invitation sent via email by a Research Assistant who was also not involved with the program. Four focus groups were held with 5 to 9 participants each. All the students who were invited chose to participate. We reasoned that this may have been because they were all from out of town and appreciated an opportunity to interact and share their views. Pseudonyms ensured participant confidentiality. Full ethical approval was granted by the university.

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LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role

The following two overarching themes emerged from analyzing the data. At my work, I would say I need this ordered, Dr … and he'll just say, okay, it's ordered. And then it seems like I make the decision and I just need his signature. They will speak with you and then thank you for whatever you did. The culture of night shift—it's different. Talking with the family. My first job that I had as an LPN, I was alone on the floor as the only official nurse for more than half of my shift.

I had the full responsibility of all 60 residents in my care … that all happened as an LPN. I feel equally professional in both roles. It was a little like patronizing. I did not like being patronized in that sense. We are not newbies. We have been around. We do bring experience ….

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I'm still very proud of the work I do as an LPN. I already feel I do think like an RN. It's very frustrating and almost devalues the work that I've already put into the profession. Same cover, same everything. Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Cynthia L. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 5. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia.

LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role

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    LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition
    LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition
    LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition
    LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition
    LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition
    LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition
    LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition
    LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition LPN to RN Transitions: Achieving Success in Your New Role , Third Edition

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