From the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) to the National Academy of Medicine, many organizations believe that new Registered Nurses (RNs) should enter the field with, at minimum, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Likewise, they encourage existing RNs with a diploma or associate degree to further their education with an RN to BSN or RN to MSN degree completion program.
So, why do institutions want RNs to have a BSN degree or higher? Their goal is to increase the standard of care for patients, and a large body of research has demonstrated improved clinical outcomes for nurses with higher education. These outcomes range from lower mortality rates to more accurate diagnoses and fewer medication errors. Some hospitals, in particular, are further driven by a desire for the coveted Magnet Hospital designation, for which hospitals must have a nursing staff that meets specific educational requirements, including that all nurse managers have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing.
How a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing Could Help You
While associate’s and diploma nursing programs focus primarily on the basics of clinical care, BSN programs offer a broader curriculum useful in diverse settings and cases, including courses on community health, leadership, and health policy and information management. BSN programs can improve communication, critical thinking, research and leadership skills as well as prepare nurses to deliver more advanced patient care and health promotion education.
Employers recognize and value that difference, with the numbers clearly showing the value of a BSN to RNs on the job hunt. In 2019, the AACN found that 82% of surveyed organizations strongly preferred hiring nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, while 43% only hired RNs with a BSN. The US Army, Navy and Air Force, for example, require every active duty RN to hold a BSN.
Having a bachelor’s degree in nursing is also commonly required for moving beyond entry-level clinical positions into administration, research, teaching, or other specialized nursing fields. This holds true in the Veteran’s Administration (VA)—the single largest US employer for RNs—where nurses cannot be promoted out of entry-level positions without a bachelor’s degree in nursing. These higher-level and management positions often come with an increase in salary, so earning a BSN can also increase your earning potential in your career. Beyond that, a bachelor’s degree in nursing is the foundation to a master’s degree in nursing, which is required to become an advanced practice RN.
Solutions for New & Working Nurses: BSN, RN to BSN, and RN to MSN programs
For someone new to the field, earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing usually takes around four years. However, if you are already a registered nurse, RN to BSN degree completion programs potentially can save you time and tuition expenses. (Many organizations also offer tuition support for employees completing nursing programs!) If you meet RN to BSN requirements, you may be able to earn a BSN in under two years. Alternatively, if you know you want to eventually pursue a graduate degree, a RN to MSN program may be an even better fit for you!
In addition to the on-campus nursing programs available, some schools (including South University) allow you to complete RN to BSN and RN to MSN nursing degrees online—giving you increased flexibility and control over your schedule. Either way, investing in your education now could lead to improved patient care, more career opportunities and the potential for a higher salary in the future.
Ready to pursue your nursing degree in a welcoming environment with knowledgeable, supportive faculty and staff and personalized attention? Request information today to learn more about the nursing programs at South University.