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Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing


What is a Bachelor’s in Nursing Degree?

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a higher educational credential than the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), and its curriculum delivers thorough professional nursing instruction. Similar to ADN programs, candidates are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN at the culmination of study. A bachelor’s degree in nursing program generally takes four years to complete.

Furthering your education is a requirement for career growth, and nearly always leads to higher salaries and greater responsibility in the workplace. The BSN is not only proof of extended study but also a gateway to further higher education in the form of a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a doctoral degree.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing?

Career Available with a BSN

  • Registered Nurse
  • Travel Nurse
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • School Nurse
  • Psychiatric Nurse
  • Flight Nurse
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse

Career Unavailable with a BSN

  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Educator
  • Nurse Specialist

Should I Get a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing?

Technically, you don’t need a bachelor’s degree in nursing to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. However, many hospitals require that all incoming nursing staff hold a BSN in addition to state credentials. This hiring trend is a response to an industry-wide push for all nurses to hold baccalaureate degrees: in 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) announced an initiative to create a workforce of 80% BSN-prepared nurses by 2020.

Thanks to advances in health care, Americans are living longer than ever before, and this increased longevity translates to a greater patient population. Medical science is also experiencing rapid growth in diagnostic and treatment knowledge, largely due to technological developments that were unimaginable a few years ago. For nurses, the workplace environment is changing. Increasingly, advanced training is more of a necessity than a luxury for workplace success.

Your personal financial situation, time constraints and family obligations may impact your decision to pursue a 4-year degree. Take a look at these pros and cons of pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing:

Advantages to a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

  • Greater career mobility. Most administrative and supervisory positions require a BSN.
  • Grants entry to master’s or doctoral nursing programs, leading to career advancement and higher salaries.
  • The critical thinking skills imparted by a BSN translate to improved patient care and safety.
  • Job opportunities outside of traditional floor nursing begin with the BSN; these graduates are positioned for a range of specialized nursing jobs.

Disadvantages to a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

  • Baccalaureate study means that you’ll spend four years in a program before generating income.
  • Tuition for four years is significantly more expensive than for two, and often means additional years of student debt.
  • In nursing positions that don’t require the BSN, holding one does not necessarily equate to a higher starting salary.

Need to Know: Should I Consider a BSN Bridge Program If I Have My ADN?

Another branch of the IOM’s educational initiative is an official endorsement of ADN-prepared nurses returning to school. As a result, accredited RN-to-BSN bridge programs have sprung up across America. These programs build on the foundational knowledge imparted in ADN programs, diving deeper into course materials and more specialized clinical experiences. If you already hold an ADN, consider some of the advantages and disadvantages of an RN-to-BSN program.

Advantages of RN to BSN Programs

  • Many of these programs are available partially or fully online, lending themselves well to a working nurse’s schedule.
  • Credits from ADN programs can often be transferred, shortening the path to the BSN.
  • In some cases, credit may be applied for prior work experience, or credit hours may be granted in exchange for proof of competency.
  • Accelerated programs can significantly speed up the process of earning a BSN.
  • Practical and clinical experiences are often quite specialized, focusing on areas like community health, pediatric or gerontological care.

Disadvantages of RN to BSN Programs

  • RN-to-BSN programs are competitive; a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0 is not uncommon.
  • More strict admission criteria includes criminal background checks and competency assessments.
  • Accelerated programs are extremely rigorous academically and require total commitment.
  • These programs often run end-to-end, without breaks on the calendar.
  • Online programs may have practicum specifications that require students to travel.

How Much Will I Make With a BSN?

Hourly: $38.34

Monthly: $6,135

Annually: $73,606

PayScale, accessed October 2015

How Do I Get a BSN?

  1. Decide Type of BSN Program
  2. Find BSN Programs
  3. Apply to BSN Programs
  4. Secure Funding for BSN Programs
  5. Attend BSN Classes
  6. Graduate with a BSN

What Kind of Classes Will I Take?

The core curriculum in any accredited bachelor’s degree in nursing program includes the study of adult, maternal, newborn and pediatric professional nursing. At many schools, psychiatric, gerontological and community health nursing is also covered. The primary distinction between BSN and ADN course content is that nursing theory is explored in greater detail in the BSN program.

  • Nursing the Infant, Child and Adolescent Patient
  • Women’s Healthcare: Theory and Practice
  • Leadership and the Professional Practice
  • Nursing Informatics
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