Climbing the nursing career ladder requires earning an advanced nursing degree like a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). For nurses who earned an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and are working in their field, deciding to return to school to earn a BSN can be intimidating. They must commit time and effort to their studies while continuing to hold down a full-time nursing job.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), about 56% of nurses currently in the workforce hold a BSN. This is the highest number of nurses to possess an advanced degree in nursing. That figure is expected to continue to rise as nurses realize the benefits of obtaining a BSN.
Why do nurses need a BSN?
Some nursing positions require a BSN. That is perhaps the number one reason most nurses pursue this graduate degree. Other factors motivate nurses to go from an ADN to a BSN.
They can advance in their career. A BSN opens the door to new nursing possibilities, including management positions and an academic career.
They can pursue their passion. Some nurses enjoy working in specialized healthcare settings, like oncology or pediatrics. Having a BSN expands the opportunity for specialization.
How do you go from an ADN to a BSN?
ADN to BSN bridge programs are popular alternatives for going from an ADN to a BSN degree. They are ideal for students with previous nursing experience. Bridge programs accommodate practicing nurses who wish to further their education while continuing to work in the field.
Nursing students who attend a BSN program full-time can expect to finish in 12 to 18 months. If you are working a full-time job while earning your BSN, it can take a little longer. Here are the three most popular ways to go from an ADN to a BSN.
1. LPN to BSN
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) can simultaneously earn the credentials needed for their Registered Nurse (RN) licensure and a BSN degree. If this scenario works for you, seek out bridge programs that offer a “credit by exam” option. It works by testing nurses on their existing knowledge of subjects, allowing them to earn credits and skip the course, as long as they are proficient. This can be an excellent way to reduce the number of hours you must spend taking courses and the money you will spend on those credit hours.
2. RN to BSN
RN-to-BSN bridge programs are the most popular option for nurses pursuing a BSN degree. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there are 800 RN-to-BSN programs nationwide. About 600 of them offer an online option for busy nurses who need more flexibility in their class schedules. If an RN-to-BSN bridge program is of interest to you, check with your current employer before choosing one. Some healthcare systems bring educators to their facilities to make it more convenient for nurses to earn their BSN while working. Others may offer tuition reimbursement for nurses who pursue advanced degrees with the promise of continuing to work with their current employer.
3. Accelerated or direct entry
These programs are for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. You can take your liberal arts and background courses from your previous degree and use them to meet non-nursing course requirements to begin your BSN coursework faster.
When is the right time to earn a BSN?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. What may be the right time for one nurse would not work for another nurse. You must consider things like your family and finances before diving into a years-long commitment to furthering your education. Maybe you have small children at home and want to wait until they are older. Maybe you do not have the disposable income needed to finance your advanced degree. Need a little help working it all out? Join the Incredible Health Nurse Community to talk with other nurses who have chosen a similar path and can offer you practical advice on the best way to achieve your goal.
Remember, only you know your situation. Plan your future goals and stick with them. Before you know it, you will be well on your way to a BSN.
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