Why a bachelor’s degree in nursing is important

  Are you wondering how to become a nurse? If so, then you are not alone. Thousands like you are also asking this question. There are a coup...

 Are you wondering how to become a nurse? If so, then you are not alone. Thousands like you are also asking this question.


There are a couple of ways to get yourself set to become a nurse in terms of education. Typically, you would be starting with a degree of some sort. This could be an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). With either of these, you are set to become a licensed nursing practitioner and will be able to pursue graduate nursing programs if you so wish.


But what sets the bachelor’s degree in nursing apart from an associate degree in nursing or any other certification from a school of nursing? The answers are quite interesting, and that is what we will be exploring in this article as we look at some of the reasons why a BSN is important.


What is a bachelor’s degree in nursing?


The bachelor’s degree in nursing, also referred to as the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and abbreviated as ‘BSN’, is a nursing education degree that is comparable or equivalent to a bachelor’s degree obtained for studying for about three to four years in the university. Most bachelor’s degree programs are completed in four years, though there are also bachelor’s degree equivalents that can be completed in three years. However, you can also obtain your bachelor’s degree in nursing within two years if you enroll in an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) degree program.


Why should I go for a bachelor’s degree in nursing?


The BSN is a great option for anyone who is just starting out in their career and is interested in the field of nursing practice. The BSN is widely recognized and preferred over other certifications and basic nursing degrees such as the ADN program. Therefore, it can expose you to more job opportunities and better-paying positions.


Here are some of the benefits of attaining a BSN.


Better salary options


The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the average yearly pay for registered nurses at $82,750. However, PayScale revealed that the average annual wage range for an associate-level registered nurse job is lower than that of registered nurses with a BSN. While the average annual pay for all registered nurses will continue to increase with years of experience, that of registered nurses who have a BSN increases at a faster rate.


The BSN offers better salary options because it presents you with better job offers and makes it easier for you to get promotions.


Better job offers


The above statistics are proof that employers look out more for BSN registered nurses. This is because the BSN is obviously a higher qualification and so employers will consider you more qualified and fit for the job. Employers are looking for nurses who will be able to meet up with the demands of the fast-paced and ever-evolving world. While an ADN grants you the basic knowledge of nursing practice, the BSN explores the profession deeper and gets you set for all the challenges of the nursing profession. Employers understand this and that is why they prefer BSN holders.


Moreover, most hospitals are interested in obtaining a Magnet Status for their company. The Magnet Status can be likened to a stamp or certification of the quality of healthcare delivered by the hospital. One of the requirements for the Magnet Status is for a healthcare organization’s staff composition to include 75% BSN nurses. For this reason, many hospitals and healthcare organizations want to prioritize employing BSN nurses over ADN nurses, thereby making employment more competitive for the latter.


A BSN will not only get you better job offers, but it will also offer you higher job security. You are less likely to be dismissed from work as a BSN registered nurse compared to a registered nurse with only an ADN. You are also more likely to be a beneficiary of sponsored workshops and other programs that will advance your career. Your organization recognizes the edge that BSN nurses already have and will strive to make them even better so that they can continue to serve the organization.


Better professional preparation


The curricula for ADN and BSN programs include the basics of nursing practice. That is why either of them will prepare you for clinical knowledge. They both cover experiential courses and will equip you for hands-on clinical practice. However, BSN programs offer more than what is in the ADN curriculum. This is mostly because there is more time involved in the learning process.


These extra learning experiences will prepare you for leadership, management and professionalism in the nursing profession. Therefore, the BSN is considered to be the program that prepares students for the future of the nursing profession.


Better career outlook


Career outlook speaks more than just salary offers and current job positions. It speaks about the totality of your career, including the future job positions and opportunities that await you in your field.


The career outlooks for ADN and BSN registered nurses are so distinct, and the distinction progresses as the years of work experience increase. While ADN and BSN registered nurses may have the same outlook at the beginning of their careers, it will not always remain that way.


A BSN offers more flexible opportunities, including administrative and leadership opportunities, in the field of nursing. Besides, there are some classified entry-level specializations that are only available for BSN owners. Examples of such specializations are military nursing and travel nursing. However, other specializations that are available to ADN holders can also be taken by BSN owners, thereby making job opportunities highly competitive for those without a BSN.


Furthermore, BSN registered nurses have a better chance at administrative and leadership positions and can explore wider options, including those in public health, education and research.


A BSN is required for licensing


Licensing bodies recognize how important it is for licensed nurses to be well-educated, informed and professional. This is why the BSN in 10 law was created. The BSN in 10 law requires that any nurse who gets licensed must have either earned a BSN degree or will be earning a BSN degree in 10 years from when they got licensed.


What this means is that a registered nurse would still need to earn a BSN anyway to be able to maintain their licensing. The BSN is steadily becoming the preferred educational standard for registered nurses. So, if you are just starting out in your academics, why not go straight for a BSN? This way, you won’t have to come back to it later on in your career journey.


The BSN may soon become mandated


From all the reasons outlined above, and most importantly, the BSN in 10 law, the BSN may soon become the new gold standard for recognizing registered nurses. While other certifications and degree types such as the ADN may not be banned right away, they may well just fade away over time as more and more people begin to opt for the better option available.


Because of the chances of getting your license suspended if you don’t have a BSN and the preference that most organizations have for BSN nurses, with several new laws to support this shift, the BSN appears to be here to stay.


Supports better patient outcomes


All of the benefits of a BSN that we have previously outlined have focused on what lies in store for the registered nurse. Earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing also has benefits for patients who are directly impacted by the activities of nurses. A BSN nurse is better trained to handle situations, attend to patients, and manage their work environment. If this means anything, we should expect a BSN nurse to perform better at work than a registered nurse.


So, if your desire is to provide the best care for your patients as a nurse, then a bachelor’s degree in nursing makes you better prepared to do that as a starter than an associate degree. Of course, you can always further your education with a master’s and/or doctor’s program in nursing. However, while you are at the bachelor’s-level stage, the BSN is your best shot at getting you ready to be a well-trained nurse with a track record of success in healthcare delivery.


Patient care is becoming more and more complex by the day, due to newly discovered healthcare concerns, antimicrobial resistance, and other such challenges. Also, in the present-day work environment, nurses must not only be caring and assuring, but also able to multitask, utilize technology, manage and analyze data, and ask curious questions. A BSN makes nurses better prepared to manage all of these, thereby improving patient outcomes in the organizations they work for.


How to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing


Depending on where you are in your academics and career journey, there are several pathways to getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Here, we have highlighted the three major pathways. These are:



  • Direct BSN

  • RN-to-BSN

  • ABSN


Direct BSN


The conventional route to getting a BSN in nursing is to enroll in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at any university of your choice. Like any university degree, the BSN typically takes four years to complete. However, you may be able to find institutions where you can enroll to complete your BSN in four years.


To enroll in a BSN program, you’ll need your high school diploma or its equivalent, where you must have taken the major science courses. Nearly all BSN programs will require you to have taken English, math, science and social science courses in your high school. BSN programs are also usually very competitive, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward, and this includes having above-average high school grades.


Do not choose a school simply because of its popularity or because your friends are there. You must ensure that the school of your choice has its BSN program accredited – otherwise, your degree will not be recognized, and you’ll not be able to find a job until that program gets accredited.


Some schools may also have special regulations for application, such as applying through the NursingCAS, which can be used by different schools, or applying through the school’s unique application portal. Other schools will require you to apply to both. All of this information will be included on the program website. If you are not sure, however, you can always contact the school via email or visit it physically.


Nowadays, you have several options for completing your BSN: full-time and part-time options for physically enrolled students, evening class sessions, and online BSN programs. Before enrolling, make sure that you check that the class options are suitable for you. Once you get into the program, you’ll have to devote yourself to the three or four-year duration so that you can come out with excellent grades and be fit to become a member of the nursing profession.


RN-to-BSN


The ADN program is the minimum requirement needed to become a registered nurse. However, it offers limited work and payment benefits to practicing registered nurses. Besides, you must get your BSN within 10 years from when you become accredited to become a nurse.


If you already have an ADN and would love to go back to school to earn a BSN, you do not have to spend four extra years to earn the BSN. The RN-to-BSN pathway is an accelerated program that allows those who already have an ADN to earn their BSN in just 12 months.


Your two years of study for an ADN will count as an equivalent for some of the preliminary courses you’ll have to cover, so you can focus on the very specialized ones and earn your BSN within a short time.


It is now very common to find accelerated programs such as the RN-to-BSN available to be completed online in most universities. If you are considering this pathway, the chances are that you are already working and that you already have a family. Therefore, the online option might be the most convenient for you. Nevertheless, that is still up to you to decide. 


ABSN


At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that it is possible to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing within 12 months through the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (ABSN). What is an ABSN? Although it is also an accelerated program, the ABSN differs from the RN-to-BSN program in that it is a fast-tracked program that allows you to earn a BSN without a previous certification or degree earned in the field of nursing. The ABSN is most suitable for individuals who are considering a career switch to nursing. Such individuals would have already earned a degree from a related science or social science background.


The ABSN helps you save about one to two years of study to earn a BSN by letting your previous degree cover for the basic science courses you would have needed to take at the beginning of your BSN. The ABSN excludes all of these preliminary courses and goes straight to the specialized healthcare courses, and this is why you will complete your ABSN in less than four years.


Specifically, here are some of the benefits of the ABSN program:



  • It is an easy way to switch to the nursing profession if you are already on another career path.

  • You can earn credits for your previously completed undergraduate work.

  • The program can be completed within two years or less.

  • By the time you complete the program, you’ll have earned two degrees: your previous degree and the new Bachelor of Nursing Science degree.

  • Most ABSN programs are available as online programs.


While the task of switching career paths can be a daunting one, you do not have to be anxious. Anxiety will only slow you down and make it harder for you to identify growth opportunities around you. You can begin the process by speaking to a career counselor or gathering insights from family and friends who are already in the nursing profession.


Conclusion


A BSN offers you many benefits as a registered nurse. It improves your career outlook, makes your growth faster and smoother, prepares you to face challenging industry demands, and helps you achieve better patient outcomes. Irrespective of where you are in your academic and career journey, you can still stir the waters toward earning a BSN. There are specialized and accelerated programs that can help you pick up from wherever you may have stopped – this way, you can earn your BSN in a shorter timeframe.

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