Healthcare professionals who want to advance their career often decide to earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing, or BSN. With this highly respected degree, you will then be able to work as a full registered nurse and earn a great salary. Statistics show that there is a national shortage of nurses, and a 16% growth rate is expected in the field in the next 10 years.
Why a BSN Degree?
Most people who want to be nurses eventually earn their BSN degree. While you can work in nursing as a Licensed Practical Nurse with an associate’s degree, you will always find better pay and opportunities with a BSN degree.
This is confirmed by both the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (ACEN), and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). These respected organizations state that current RNs (with an RN diploma or associate’s degree) should earn their BSN eventually.
Research has shown that nurses with a BSN provide a higher standard of care and have a better understanding of nursing as well as public health problems. Hiring trends indicate as well that employers want their nurses to have BSN degrees.
Also, the highly regarded Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended in 2014 that 80% of US nurses have at least a BSN by 2020. At the time the report was released, approximately 49% of nurses held a BSN.
Another reason to earn a BSN degree: It opens the door to higher levels of education, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). That highly coveted degree is the path to becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN):
- Nurse practitioner
- Certified nurse midwife
- Certified nurse anesthetist
- Clinical nurse specialist
- Nurse educator/administrator
APRN positions are the highest-paying positions in the nursing field. Many BSN holders eventually earn their MSN and become very highly paid nursing professionals. This is a great career path to earn excellent income and professional respect. Studies have shown that the quality of care provided by APRNs is equal to or better than doctor services, and at much lower cost.
First, however, you need to earn your BSN degree, which requires approximately 124 credit hours to graduate. If you have an associate’s degree, however, you will be able to complete your BSN degree more quickly.
Interesting BSN Facts and Statistics
- Nursing students are more than half of all students in the health professions. At least half are BSN students.
- There are four times more nurses than doctors in the US.
- Less than 10% of all RN education programs are now RN diploma programs. Most are either associate’s degree or BSN programs.
- In 1980, 55% of RNs had an RN diploma and only 22% had a BSN, with 18% holding as associate’s degree. By 2008, the diploma was held by only 14%, BSN had climbed to 37% and 36% held an associate’s degree.
- 13% of RNs in 2008 held an MSN or higher nursing degree.
Licensing and Certification
When you become a nurse with a diploma or associate’s degree, you must pass the NCLEX-PN examination and have a license in your state. When you earn your BSN, you must then pass the NCLEX-RN examination and also have a license in your state.
Further, if you choose to specialize in a certain field of nursing (see list below), you will need to obtain a professional certification in that field: ambulatory care, pediatrics, home health nursing, etc.
Online and Campus-Based Options
Today’s advanced Internet technologies means that you no longer must attend a campus-based nursing program, if you so choose. There are hundreds of high quality, online BSN program options for busy healthcare professionals. You can complete most of your classes from the comfort of your own home if you like.
If you are considering an online BSN program, check to see if it is accredited by CCNE, which is recognized by the US Department Education as a national accreditation agency.
Arizona State University RN-to-BSN Program
A good online BSN program to consider is the program at Arizona State University, which can be completed in as little as 15-18 months, if you come into the program with an RN diploma or associate’s degree. ASU’s program is recognized as one of the top nursing schools in the US, and the cost is only $435 per credit hour.
ASU allows you to transfer as many as 64 credit hours from a community college, so this type of online program is a good option for a busy healthcare professional who wants to earn her BSN quickly.
Popular BSN in Nursing Specializations
Another advantage of earning your BSN degree is that you have the opportunity to specialize in certain nursing fields that pay the best and interest you the most:
- Ambulatory care nurse: These nurses work more in community centers than doctors’ offices or hospitals, although it can vary. They provide basic medical services to at risk populations, including medical screenings and education. You may engage in basic health care functions, such as administer vaccines, draw blood or do routine health exams.
- Community health nurse: Often work in public institutions, schools and community health centers to boost the health of people in the community. Health screenings and preventative health measures such as vaccinations are the main duties. Also you may do cancer screenings and blood drives.
- Correctional nurse: Work in jail, prison or juvenile detention facility where you treat inmates with medical problems. Some nurses prefer this type of clinical work because they do not want to work in a regular hospital.
- Public health nurse: Work primarily as an educator in at risk communities, providing health information to prevent diseases. Also provide immunization and health screening services.
- School nurse: Treat children for illnesses and injuries while they are on school property. Also you will administer daily medications and treat allergies. You also may treat playground injuries etc.
- Home health nurse: Care for patients in their homes, mostly elderly or chronically sick patients who receive their care outside of a hospital. This is a good fit for nurses who want to work more one on one with patients over a longer period.
- Neonatal nurse: You will treat newborns who were born prematurely or have birth defects. Most of these nurses work in the neonatal ward of a hospital. You also will work with parents to administer medications to their baby.
- Pediatric nurse: Treat children who suffer from acute or chronic illnesses. Some nurses prefer to work with children over adults and are able to communicate effectively with young people.
- Emergency nurse: This is a critical care nurse who works in the ER or ICU of a hospital. You will treat seriously ill or injured people, essentially just stabilizing them and preparing them for hospital admission as needed.
- Informatics nurse: These are nurses are experts in software that compiles and manages healthcare data and also computers that are used in medical centers and clinics.
Other Career Options with a BSN Degree
With a BSN degree and clinical experience, you also can work in non-traditional careers that are outside of nursing:
Some RNs like to work in pharmaceutical sales after they were nurses for a few years. Having been a clinical nurse, they have an insider’s perspective about the drugs that they are marketing.
Some nurses with a BSN or MSN eventually work in administration and management, running a medical clinic. This type of job requires understanding of federal regulations such as OSHA and the maintenance of electronic medical records.
Clearly, there are many rewarding career paths with a BSN degree. Use this website to conduct more career research to decide which BSN speciality is for you.