If you’re already working as a Registered Nurse, you might wonder if getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing is worth it, because let’s face it, earning a BSN is a significant investment of time and money.
However, there are two main reasons why earning a BSN is the best next step for your nursing career. Firstly, there are many benefits that come with being a BSN trained nurse. Secondly, soon enough, becoming a BSN might not be a choice, but a requirement, as for almost a decade, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has been advocating for an 80% BSN educated nursing workforce by 2020.
In this piece we’ll explore more thoroughly the advantages of a BSN, the skills you’ll advance should you decide to pursue this degree and why hospitals lean towards hiring BSN trained nurses. Read on to find out the answers to any BSN related questions you might encounter. By the end, you should have a comprehensive understanding on the importance of a BSN, so you’ll be better equipped to decide if pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in nursing aligns with your career goals and aspirations.
Why Is a BSN Important?
Education plays a crucial role for nurses in building the key competencies necessary to become leaders and, more importantly, public advocates for their patients and profession. BSN degrees prepare nurses to lead the charge of change, and help nurses develop the critical thinking skills to do so.
By the end of 2020, an estimated 20 percent of the population will be 65 or older and many people will live for a longer time, often with chronic illnesses. To cope with the mounting challenges of an aging population and an increasingly strained health care system, the Institute of Medicine has proposed an increase to BSN nurses from 50 percent to 80 percent by 2020.
As a consequence, many employers (especially hospitals) now give preference to or only hire BSN-qualified nurses. In the future, it is expected that the BSN will become a mandatory qualification for nurses. This is why getting a BSN degree by 2020 becomes the ideal scenario.
In the ever-changing nursing landscape, BSN degree programs offer the most in-depth and comprehensive preparation for future nurses. A fact sheet published by the AACN cites a number of studies that show how better nursing education is linked to a higher quality of care. In turn, this translates to better patient outcomes and lower mortality rates.
As a BSN-qualified RN, you play an important role in improving health care. Besides, with a BSN you also have more opportunities for advancement and better career satisfaction.
The Most Important 10 Advantages of Getting a BSN in Nursing
Besides the many benefits it brings to patients and health centers, the BSN degree also presents a number of advantages for nurses themselves.
Here are the most important benefits of getting your BSN:
1. BSN Prepared Nurses Are Directly Linked With Better Patient Outcomes
Numerous studies corroborate the fact that higher nursing education leads to better clinical outcomes, fewer medical errors and lower mortality rates. A 2014 study found that a 10% increase in the proportion of baccalaureate-prepared nurses on hospital units was associated with lowering the odds of patient mortality by 10.9%.
Another more recent study, dated in 2019, also backed up these assumptions, by proving BSN nurses were excelling compared to ADN nurses in several areas related to quality of care and patient safety, such as evidence based-practice, data analysis and project implementation.
BSN Nurses are also responsible for lower incidence of hospital-acquired infections(HAI), according to a study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
2. The BSN Makes You a Better Nurse & Gives You Credibility
The nursing field is continuously advancing, developing new systems and discovering new methods of treating patients. Nurses are constantly challenged to become lifelong learners to serve better patient care and improve healthcare throughout their community.
A more solid theoretical background and longer preparation times mean that nurses with a BSN degree are better equipped to give excellent patient care. Nurses even say that the degree gives them more credibility and that it can pave the way to financial and professional autonomy.
3. BSN Holders Have More Job Opportunities
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 12 percent growth for the employment of registered nurses between 2018-2028, higher than the average for all occupations. Moreover, BLS projections indicate there will be about 210,400 openings for registered nurses each year, on average, over the decade. The need for nurses will only be further accentuated by the retirement of seasoned nurses, with over one million nurses expected to retire by 2030.
Therefore, it is safe to say that with the need for nurses only growing in numbers, there are record numbers of job opportunities for RNs. However, considering more and more hospitals prefer to hire BSN educated nurses, it is much easier for the holders of this degree to take advantage of the numerous job opportunities available.
4. More Opportunities for Advancement
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing is also the first step towards advanced practice nursing roles which entail more responsibility. So, for example, if you are thinking of becoming an APRN, then the BSN is essential for you.
The additional training that you receive during a BSN makes you better suited for leadership and management positions which require sharp decision making and critical thinking skills. If you choose to pursue a Master’s or Doctoral degree after your BSN, you will be able to expand your horizons even more and become part of the next generation of policymakers.
5. More Choice Over the Work Environment
As a nurse, you can choose to spend your entire career in hospital care, in which case an ADN and license will likely suffice. However, for non-hospital careers, such as teaching, case management or nursing informatics, a more advanced level of education is necessary, usually a BSN or above. BSN nurses have increased opportunities to leave traditional patient care environments and work as analysts, consultants, as well as get involved in project management, implementation, sales, and leadership roles.
Nurses who decide to change their careers often cite burnout, 12-hour shifts and workplace incivility as the main workplace challenges they face. So, should you decide you want a job that offers more stability and flexibility, changing the setting is now more achievable than ever, especially with a BSN degree under your belt.
6. You Will Earn More Money
Nurses with a BSN education receive better rewards for their labor, which means that they have higher salaries as well as more benefits. A BSN degree will certainly give you an advantage when it comes to salary negotiation and will put you ahead of other candidates with the same level of experience.
Although ADN and BSN nurses earn similar pay at the beginning of their careers, the salary gap becomes more apparent as you gain more experience. Therefore, the level of pay is motivating registered nurses to return to school for an advanced degree.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the median annual wage of RN’s (which can be both ADN and BSN nurses) was $77,460 in 2019.
According to Payscale BSN RN’s earn an average salary of around $83,000. That’s $14,000 more than the mean salary of an ADN RN with the same experience, who only makes about approximately $ 69,000 per year.
If you want to explore more career options that you can pursue with a BSN, have a look at our nursing jobs blog post, you will also find the best paying BSN jobs. We also recommend that you explore the Nurse Salary by State infographic to view a comprehensive breakdown of salary per state.
7. Hospitals Prefer BSN Prepared Nurses, Especially Hospitals That Seek Magnet Recognition
According to an AACN survey, 43.2% of hospitals and other healthcare settings are requiring new hires to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, while 82.1% of employers are expressing a strong preference for BSN program graduates.
Nursing is a highly competitive field and many hospitals, especially those seeking Magnet status, will give priority to BSN-educated nurses competing for entry-level positions. The Magnet status is a credential of organizational recognition of nursing excellence. A growing body of research links Magnet healthcare institutions with higher percentages of satisfied RNs, lower RN turnover and vacancy, improved clinical outcomes, and improved patient satisfaction. Magnet hospitals are required to have 100% of nurse leaders and nurse managers hold a baccalaureate or graduate degree. While there are no specific guidelines for the percentage of RNs that need to have a BSN, Magnet hospitals normally follow the IOM guidelines and aspire to an 80% nursing workforce with a bachelor’s degree.
As of 2019, approximately 8% of hospitals in the US have achieved the ANCC Magnet recognition status.
8. A More Comprehensive Curricula: BSN Teaches Much More Than Clinical Skills
Although BSN curricula vary across teaching institutions, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing will give you an extensive set of skills, which outstrips the scope of any ADN. Alternatively, you can opt for an RN-to-BSN program that has the same benefits, provided you already work as a registered nurse.
Here is a quick rundown of the study areas you will focus on during an RN-to-BSN degree program – subjects that are not otherwise present in the ADN Curriculum.
Decision making in nursing
Nurses are required to make decisions in every aspect of their practice, hence, they need a strong foundation of knowledge, values and ethics to help guide them better through the decision making process. Considerations such as ethical, political, legal, cultural, spiritual and clinical are all to be taken into account, so this course is the stepping stone for nurses towards better, faster decisions that are vital to the nursing practice.
Nurses need to explore the future of nursing from a leadership perspective, especially if they aspire towards management and leadership positions. This course is an unique opportunity for nurses to delve into the many facets of leadership and examine strategies that will help them develop skills needed to function as leaders.
Concepts of nursing in the complex patient
Working as a nurse, you will have your fair share of complex patients, hence you need to learn to handle complex patient situations and how to address the ethical, moral and legal issues encountered in the critical care environment.
Scholarship and evidence-based practice in nursing
The research process is fundamental to the practice of nursing, as it helps promote, maintain, and restore health, as well as ensure quality and safety in nursing practice. Through this subject, you will learn how scientific nursing knowledge is gained and you will acquire the means to take action against the prevalent health issues in a community.
In a field with ever-changing technologies, you’ll need to have an updated knowledge of computer science and technology to stay current in the workplace. This course will help you gain advanced knowledge and skills in information management and patient care technology, which are essential to nursing practice
To get the full picture, you may want to read our blog post about what you will study during an RN-to-BSN program
9. Earning a BSN Is Easier & Faster Than Ever
The possibility of getting your BSN degree online makes the whole process easier. And if you are willing to put in a little bit of extra effort, you could even earn your degree faster.
On average, it takes around four years to complete a BSN program, while an online RN-to-BSN takes up to two years to complete. It is worth mentioning that online (including hybrid) nursing programs can be completed even quicker than traditional ones, if you are willing to put some extra time and effort.
Online BSN programs can be completed in up to 32 months, or 8 semesters and it combines online didactic instruction with local experiential learning, as nursing is a hands-on profession, so you will need to acquire clinical experience as part of your studies. If you are an already working RN you can opt for an online RN-to-BSN program with an accelerated timeline, which can be completed in as few as 2 semesters or just 8 months.
10. It Will Soon Become a Necessity for Getting Hired
In 2010 the Institute of Medicine issued its landmark report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The report called for a change in the nurses’ roles, responsibilities and education. More specifically, it asked for an increase in the number of BSN-prepared nurses in the workforce to 80% in 2020.
As a result, the percentage of nurses with a BSN has increased, although the goal has not been reached yet: in 2017 56% of nurses had pursued BSN training, compared to 49% in 2010. So, the field is getting more competitive, and nurses should take this into consideration.
Luckily enough, BSN graduates typically don’t encounter too many problems when hunting for a job. According to a survey by the AACN 75% of new BSN graduates and 75% of MSN graduates had a job offer at the time of graduation. The same survey found that within 4 to 6 months from graduation 94% of both BSN and MSN graduates had a job offer.
Why Should You Get Your BSN vs ADN?
The main difference between ADN nursing and BSN nursing has to do with the level of expertise. While you can be an RN nurse with just your ADN qualifications, an RN with BSN is eligible to take on more responsibilities and get into management roles.
As an ADN-qualified licensed nurse working in health care, you may not immediately see the benefits of returning to school to gain a BSN. After all, you are licensed to work and possibly are already working.
But, a patient’s overall health is just as dependent on the medication being dispensed as it is on the nurse’s academic progression and level of knowledge.
If you want to work as an RN, you should know that getting a BSN over an ADN title can drastically improve your chances of landing a job when you have no experience and open up opportunities for non-hospital careers. In fact, the BSN is so valuable that even nurses with several years of experience choose to go back to school and earn the degree to widen their horizons.
It is also true that nurses with higher education are better equipped to deal with the growing demands of the nursing field, but it also allows them to take on more responsibilities and climb up their career ladder. For many RNs, this is one of the main reasons for pursuing a BSN.
“It’s great that you have gained your ADN degree, passed NCLEX and became an RN. It is a dream that many have had but few have achieved. Now for the next step and that is to get your BSN. With your RN under your belt, you’ll have opportunities to gain knowledge and grow in the field while you study online for your BSN.
You’ll find working in the field while attending your BSN program will not only help you do a better job but will also give life experiences that contribute to your understanding of your role as a nurse.” – Linda Flynn, MSN, RN (Manager, Associate Degree Programs)
The future of nursing and a nurse’s career hinges on continuous educational improvement and a sense of accountability. Patients look to receive the best care possible during their (sometimes) most frightening time. Nurses who hold themselves accountable to always deliver quality patient care are driven to advance their level of education.
Not only is the BSN degree expected to become the requirement for entry-level RN positions, but it will also provide an array of opportunities to advance and help you pursue specific nursing specialties. Therefore, you shouldn’t wait until you are forced to get your BSN but prepare in advance.
ADN Program Manager at Nightingale College, Linda Flynn, MSN, RN, reinforces and encourages her ADN Program learners to not just stop after getting an associate degree and licensed, but to push on to the next level of education:
“The BSN degree will open doors for you and broaden your opportunities to explore more areas of nursing service. Health care is quickly moving from acute hospital care to acute care in community and home settings. Public health care and health promotion have been traditionally reserved for the BSN level Practitioner. It’s important as nurses that we stay at the forefront of progress and EBP. Getting your BSN is a valuable part of that process.
Remember – an ADN prepares you to become an RN and a BSN prepares you for the future.”
Accompanying a nurse’s desire to continue advancing their knowledge, employers see the benefits BSN-prepared nurses on staff have on the overall operations of the unit. Employers understand and align with the IOM’s recommendation and are beginning to request that current nurses return to school.
“The future of nursing lies in the age-old discussion of the ‘entry into practice’ being at the baccalaureate level. That time is upon us now, and it’s only a matter of time before a BSN is the requirement to practice as a registered nurse.” – Susan Jero, MSN, RN (Area Manager, DDCs)
BSN vs ADN Registered Nurses
The basic difference between BSN and ADN teaching programs lies in the length and breadth of study. While you may be able to get an ADN in just 2 years, a BSN is more comprehensive and can take as long as 4-5 years to complete.
However, you can graduate from an online RN-to-BSN program in as few as 12 months, which makes it a convenient alternative for registered nurses who want to broaden their perspectives.
Flexible online RN-to-BSN programs like the one we offer at Nightingale College allow working nurses to effectively manage their work-life balance while taking their education to the next level.
The differences between BSN and ADN RN’s extend beyond the level of pay that you can gain with each qualification. The ADN is a great way to start your nursing career, as you can finish the degree quickly and start working to see if you like the profession before entirely committing to it.
On the other hand, a baccalaureate-level qualification like the bachelor of science is designed to improve your critical thinking abilities and give you a solid theoretical grounding in the nursing field. In time, this will enable you to make better decisions and pursue leadership roles in your career.
Why Nurses Need Higher Education Now More Than Ever?
Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry, and with that comes a tremendous responsibility. The healthcare system needs highly prepared nurses that are equipped with the skills and clinical experience to fight any major medical threats that might get thrown their way.
The COVID-19 virus outbreak has brought to light once more the unpreparedness of the American healthcare system to deal with major global pandemics and it has accentuated the severe nursing shortage that looms over our country. It has also made clear that we need highly educated nurses if we are to stand a chance in the face of medical disasters.
Not only are BSN nurses directly linked to better patient outcomes, but they are also crucial in the prevention, containment, and management of health emergencies. Due to their extended training, BSN RNs have a higher level of expertise, which enables them to provide more qualitative help and guidance through devastating illnesses.
Nurses comprise the largest component of the healthcare workforce, and the better educated this component is, the higher are our chances of facing any major medical threats successfully. Higher nursing education is not only extremely beneficial for yourself and your nursing career. It is also a service to your country and to your patients, who put their trust in you in the most critical times in their lives.
Higher education was always of tremendous importance for a nurse’s professional development, but in times of medical crisis like the Coronavirus outbreak, more advanced studies can truly make a difference. Find out from a Nightingale College graduate about her experience of becoming a nurse as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.
Is It Worth Overcoming the Challenges of Getting a BSN?
The popular perception is that balancing work and school is difficult, which hinders nurses from returning to school. Although the enrollments in RN-to-BSN programs have increased since the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation that 80 percent of nurses hold a BSN degree, nurses struggle with the allotted time needed.
When it comes to the challenges that you need to overcome, there are three main issues that need to be addressed:
You are already working as an RN, but you not only have a balance between your work life and studies. Most RN also have a family that factors into the equation. That is why the RN to BSN program offers most classes online, except for laboratories that require practical, hands-on experience. So you can mostly get your BSN degree online. This way you can have more flexibility in your schedule.
Covering tuition is sometimes a struggle, but there are always scholarships that can cover your needs. Also, some hospitals may offer to support their employees in advancing their studies, especially since having a better-prepared staff will ultimately benefit the institution. There are plenty of ways to get your BSN studies paid for, you only need to find the best one for you.
It is sometimes hard to understand if the outcome is worth the struggle. However, given the current healthcare climate, it is a given that a few months of struggle will lead to years to benefiting from a BSN degree.
“The largest hurdle for the pursuit of the baccalaureate degree is its availability, timeliness, and convenience to attend while working as a professional nurse. Nightingale College offers professional nurses an opportunity to pursue his or her BSN on their schedule and at their convenience,” said Suzette Scheuermann, Nightingale College’s previous Director of Nursing Education Services.
What to Consider When Deciding to Return to Nursing School
Getting licensed as a nurse is a big accomplishment, one that you should be very proud of achieving. The next step when considering returning to school is to look for an RN-to-BSN program, but make sure you make a few preparations beforehand.
Before even enrolling in a BSN program, you need to consider a few key factors:
- Flexibility and convenience. Balancing everything will be extremely challenging, so try to make things as easy as you can for yourself. This means going for a program that suits your needs and that offers some flexibility.
- The type of program. It does not make much sense to attend a school that requires you to travel long distances periodically throughout the week. Consider what kind of program fits your needs the best – a full- or part-time program, accelerated, on-ground or online. It is a big commitment to return to school, but a commitment that, in the long run, will give you job and financial security.
- Your support system. Just as important as understanding the time commitment involved with attending a program, support systems need to be in place. The average time of completion for an RN-to-BSN Program is 12 months. This decision will affect your entire family, so it’s important to know they are willing to take on more responsibilities as well. Don’t forget to also seek support from your employer, as you will need to make some adjustments in your schedule.
Nightingale College’s RN-to-BSN Program is a full-distance nursing program with full- and part-time options. The Program is designed with working RNs in mind. The College recognizes the importance a BSN degree has on a nurse’s career stability and wants to ensure nurses have the opportunity to get their BSN degree without the need to move away. It is time to be prepared for your future as a nurse. For more information, check out the College’s RN-to-BSN Program.
What comes after the BSN degree?
Nursing is a profession that requires you to be a lifelong learner and always keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the industry.
While it’s possible to have a successful career in nursing only with a BSN degree, it’s likely that you will study for other specialized qualifications, as you gain more experience and define your professional path.
If you want to further your academic studies, the next step after a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is usually an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing), followed by a Ph.D.
There are many advantages to earning a BSN degree, whether you choose to follow a standard 4-year course or a much shorter RN-to-BSN bridge program. With a BSN, you can improve patient care in an ever-changing medical landscape, as well as earn more and take up leadership roles.