Today, nurses have many options for advancing their careers. Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is a wise choice. A BSN opens avenues of opportunity not available to those with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). BSNs are given more responsibility than their ADN counterparts and qualify for supervisory roles and higher salaries.
Roughly 56% of registered nurses in the U.S. have a BSN degree, compared with just 49% a decade ago. A 2019 survey revealed 82.1% of healthcare organizations indicated that an advanced degree was a top consideration during the hiring process.
In this article, we will cover:
- Who should pursue a BSN?
- How long does it take to earn a BSN?
- What are the options for earning a BSN?
- How do you choose a BSN program?
- What are specialty certifications?
- How much does a BSN degree cost?
- What are the career and salary outlooks for nurses with a BSN?
Who should pursue a BSN?
Nurses who are already working in their field are an obvious choice for pursuing a BSN. RNs who are working without a BSN may wish to pursue this advanced degree to help open doors to more opportunities and higher wages.
Any professional who holds a bachelor’s degree in another field, but would like to switch careers to nursing, is also an ideal candidate. The time spent in nursing school is significantly reduced if a person already holds a bachelor’s degree in another field. They can use that degree to fulfill all general prerequisites which offer the ability to focus on coursework specific to nursing.
How long does it take to earn a BSN?
Nursing candidates who are just beginning their journey can expect to spend up to four years earning their BSN from an accredited nursing program. They are required to take liberal arts courses to fulfill general education requirements as part of their studies. Additional courses specific to their nursing specialty of choice also are part of a BSN program. They include:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Assessment of Health and Illness
- Community Health Nursing
- Health Maintenance and Restoration
- Health Promotion/Risk Reeducation
- Leadership and Management
- Mental Health
- Nursing Care
- Reproductive Health
BSN degree programs also include clinical training hours. The exact number of hours depends on the BSN program you choose, but the recommended ratio is three clinical learning hours per every one hour of classroom time.
If someone is already an RN and has completed an ADN, they may qualify for an RN-BSN bridge program that speeds up the process. This is discussed in more detail later in the article.
What are the options for earning a BSN?
Once a nurse decides a BSN is the right choice for advancing their nursing career, there are several degree pathways to help get you there.
A traditional BSN program is the most common route. Students who have not previously graduated from a post-graduate program can attend a BSN program on a part-time or full-time basis. If attending school full-time, requirements should be completed within four years.
An excellent way to earn a BSN degree is the RN-to-BSN bridge program. It is the best choice for RNs with an ADN who want to advance their career and knowledge of nursing. This program accelerates learning by allowing a nurse to test out of some required coursework. Some RN-to-BSN programs are offered online, making it easier to fit schooling into a nurse’s busy schedule.
The final option is called an Accelerated BSN. It is unique and intended for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another area. Since general prerequisites have already been completed, the focus is on nursing coursework and clinical hours. This program usually takes 11 to 18 months to complete. Accelerated BSN programs often are available online, making them convenient for students who need to continue working in their current positions while attending school.
How do you choose a BSN program?
Always make sure to choose a nursing program that is accredited by an approved accrediting body. Check if the school has been approved by an accrediting agency. If the BSN program you are considering is not accredited, consider enrolling elsewhere.
Quality BSN programs also share the following information with prospective students:
- The pass rate for the National Council Licensure Exam for RNs (NCLEX-RN)
- The percentage of recent graduates working as nurses
- The student-to-faculty ratio
What are specialty certifications?
Once someone has a BSN and passed the NCLEX-RN, and if they are not already an RN, they can opt to pursue specialty certifications in their chosen field. There are about 40 professional nursing boards or centers that offer specialty certification programs for nurses. Here is a small sampling:
|American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)|| Ambulatory Care|
|Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB)|| Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN®)|
Certified in Care Coordination and Transition Management (CCCTM®)
|Rehabilitation Nursing Certification Board (RNCB)||Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN®)|
How much does a BSN degree cost?
There are a lot of factors involved when determining the cost of a BSN degree. Where the school is located, whether it is a private program or state school, and the choice of commuting or living on campus. Four-year BSN programs typically cost between $72,000 and $104,000 for tuition, plus additional costs for books, fees, housing, and meals.
If a nurse is already working in the profession, they should check with their employer for possible benefits they offer for going back to school. Some offer tuition reimbursement or other financial assistance. There also are organizations that provide scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $7,500 or more. Grants for students who demonstrate financial need are available from the federal government. Eligibility is determined by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Student loans and repayment plans are other options for those who qualify.
What are the career and salary outlooks for nurses who have a BSN?
RNs with BSN degrees are in high demand, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth for RNs is expected to increase by 9% between 2020 and 2030. That is faster than the average for all other careers for the same period. Nurses with BSNs earn impressive annual salaries. The best states for nurses with BSNs include:
- Washington – $93,772
- New York – $87,488
- New Hampshire – $84,739
- California – $83,471
- Vermont – $80,022
Looking for open nursing positions where you can use your BSN? Check out our jobs board to find the perfect match.
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