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The Rising Value of a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing

by South University
August 7, 2017

Today, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that only slightly more than half of all Registered Nurses (RNs) have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Yet, major professional organizations, including the National Academy of Medicine, are pushing for that number to reach 80% by 2020.

Why Organizations Want RNs with a BSN

While 80% of RNs with a BSN is an ambitious goal, many organizations want to make it a reality. Why? They hope to increase the standard of care for their patients, and a growing body of research demonstrates improved clinical outcomes for nurses with higher education. These outcomes range from lower mortality rates to more accurate diagnoses.

Some hospitals may be further driven by a desire for the coveted Magnet Hospital designation, which requires that hospitals have a plan to ensure 80% of their RNs hold a BSN by 2020. The awarding committee also evaluates the current education of the nursing staff and expects all nurse managers to have a bachelor’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. BSN programs can teach you communication, critical thinking, and leadership skills as well as prepare you to deliver more advanced patient care.

Employers recognize and value that difference, with the numbers clearly showing the value of a BSN to RNs on the job hunt. In 2016, the AACN found that nearly 98% of surveyed organizations strongly preferred hiring nurses with a bachelor's degree in nursing, while over 54% only hired RNs with a BSN. The US Army, Navy and Air Force, for example, require every active duty practicing RN to hold a BSN.

Having a bachelor's degree in nursing is also commonly a must-have for moving beyond basic 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.

Earning a BSN can also lead to a jump in your salary. In 2017, Payscale.com reported that RNs with a BSN earned a median salary of $69,000, nearly $8,000 more than those without the degree. Beyond that, a bachelor’s degree in nursing can be a stepping stone to a master’s degree in nursing, which is required for advanced practice RNs.

Solutions for Working Nurses: RN to BSN Programs and Online Nursing Degrees

Without your RN status, earning a bachelor's degree in nursing would take, on average, four years. Luckily, RN to BSN programs can save RNs like you time and money. If you meet RN to BSN requirements, you could earn your BSN in under two years.

What's more, select schools allow you to earn nursing degrees online—giving you greater flexibility and control over your schedule. Your employer may even offer tuition reimbursement support for RN to BSN programs. Either way, investing in your education now could lead to more job and promotion opportunities and a higher salary in the future.

Author's Note: This article was originally published September 2016 and has been updated to reflect current research statistics and insights.

by South University
August 7, 2017
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5 Healthcare Degrees and Career Paths Outside Nursing

by South University
January 24, 2017

A career in healthcare isn’t only for nurses or doctors. With the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS) expecting the creation of 2.3 million healthcare jobs between 2014 and 2024, you have many options for pursuing a career in healthcare. If you’re drawn to helping others and bettering your community but practicing medicine isn’t for you, below are five healthcare degrees that can prepare you for other rewarding healthcare jobs.

1. Public Health Degree

With a public health degree you can prepare for a career where you work to improve health across local, national, and global communities and to make a large-scale impact on the world.

Public health career options are diverse, with opportunities to conduct disease research, influence legislative and social policy, solve health-related problems, and develop and lead programs that promote healthy lifestyles and teach disease prevention. Job growth and salaries in the field likewise vary, according to the BLS. For example, job growth for epidemiologists (who research diseases) is projected at 6%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, whereas health educators and community health workers can expect higher job growth at 13%. In 2015, epidemiologists saw a median annual wage of $69,450, with health educators at $51,960 and community health workers at $36,300.

While a Bachelor of Science in Public Health can help you to get started in this field, some public health occupations require a Master of Public Health degree.

2. Healthcare Management Degree

Healthcare managers plan, direct, and coordinate healthcare services, with leadership and administrative duties that are critical to the health of institutions and individuals. To prepare you for this responsibility, healthcare management degree programs teach both industry-specific knowledge and foundational management competencies involving critical thinking, analysis, and decision-making.

According to the BLS, medical and health services management is a growing and financially rewarding field, with an above average job growth of 17% and a 2015 median annual wage of $94,500. While a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management can equip you for many positions, the BLS notes that some employers prefer individuals who also have master’s degrees.

3. Psychology Degree

Fascinated by what makes people tick? Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology is the first step toward a career in psychology, or the scientific study of what drives human behavior. A bachelor’s psychology degree can prepare for you for entry-level positions in psychology—like counselor aide, therapeutic assistant, career advisor, or caseworker—or for continuing on to graduate school. Other jobs, such as psychologist or clinical counselor, require advance studies beyond an undergraduate psychology degree.

While a psychology degree can lead to many careers, the BLS predicts a 19% job growth for psychologists and reported a 2015 median annual salary of $72,580 for this position.

4. Physical Therapist Assistant Degree

A physical therapist assistant career allows you to work one-on-one with patients under a physical therapist’s supervision. In this role, you would support and train patients with therapy exercises and activities, treat patients using special equipment and procedures, and report on patient progress as you help guide them back to health.

Beyond enjoying a fulfilling career, physical therapist assistants can expect to be in demand, with the BLS projecting an impressive 41% employment growth. In terms of median annual salary, physical therapists assistants brought in $55,170 in 2015. To pursue this career, you’ll need to complete an Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant degree program and fulfill state licensing requirements.

5. Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree

While physical therapy assistants typically focus on patients recovering from injuries, occupational therapy assistants specialize in helping patients build and recover skills required for daily life. Work under the guidance of an occupational therapist, occupational therapy assistants may:

  • Help children with developmental disabilities become more independent
  • Assist older adults with physical and cognitive changes
  • Teach patients how to use special equipment
  • Perform patient evaluations and support ongoing patient care

The BLS also anticipates promising growth for occupational therapy assistant careers with a 43% rise in employment. In 2015, occupational therapy assistants also reported a median salary of $57,870. If you’re interested in this rapidly growing career path, earning an Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree should be your first step, followed by pursuing any state licensing requirements.

Explore Your Options for Healthcare Programs at South University

With an academic tradition of excellence that’s lasted over 100 years, South University has helped to prepare thousands of students for success in the healthcare field. Here, you’ll discover over 25 campus-based and online programs that can equip you for a career in healthcare. To learn about the healthcare degrees offered in South University’s College of Health Professions, College of Nursing and Public Health, and even our College of Business (with graduate and undergraduate healthcare management degree programs), call us at 1.888.444.3404 or request information today.

by South University
January 24, 2017
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Critical Thinking and Information Literacy Month at South University Online Programs

by South University
November 8, 2011

During the month of October, South University Online Programs held an interactive month of learning to explore the many aspects of critical thinking and how they can be applied to students’ daily lives. Each week, a new theme was featured, along with a guest lecturer. To conclude the month of critical thinking, South University Online Programs hosted another debate in its Great Debate Series. If you missed any of these great events, read on for more information and links to the recordings.

Week 1: Asking Questions
To start out the month, Professor Michael Loyd Gray hosted an event focusing on the theme “Asking Questions” on October 4 th. Using political examples and common sense, Gray shared anecdotes on misinformation and public opinion, while stressing the importance of questioning so-called facts and truths. To view the recorded webinar, please click here.

Week 2: Evaluating Information
The following week, on October 11th, Professor Doris Rachles hosted an event focusing on the theme “Evaluating Information”. She stressed the importance of questioning everything and not taking anything at face value. View the recording here!

Week 3: Articulating Your Position
Next, on October 18 th , Dr. Mark Fabbri hosted an event focusing on the theme “Articulating Your Position”. Using examples from pop culture, cartoons, and daily life, Dr. Fabbri emphasized the importance of being able to take one’s opinion and support it with facts. To view the recorded webinar, please click here.

Great Debate Series
On October 20th , South University Online Programs and the Office of Student Community held another debate in the Great Debate Series. Discussing the topics of the economy and privacy, the students addressed what can be done to bolster the economy and protect the rights of citizens.

Week 4: Reflecting on Reasoning
Finally, on October 25th, Dr. Elizabeth Bennett hosted an event focusing on the theme “Reflecting on Reasoning”. Using the Happy Meal as an example, Dr. Bennett emphasized the importance of analyzing things sociologically. She encouraged students to question things from a local, global, and historical perspective. To view the recorded webinar, please click here.

Stay tuned for more exciting events in the future!

Please be advised that the views expressed in these recordings do not necessarily represent those of South University Online Programs and have been provided solely for entertainment purposes.

by South University
November 8, 2011
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