In March, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) caused the suspension of all in-person classes and clinical rotations for nursing stude
Nurses today have many choices for their education and career. While a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is not required in every state, the growing trend is for all registered nurses to have a minimum of a BSN. There are many educational paths you can take to earn your BSN from RN-to-BSN bridge programs and accelerated BSN programs to fully online BSN programs that allow you extra flexibility and convenience. Choosing to earn a BSN degree is a big decision, whether it is your first experience in nursing school or perhaps a second career. Let’s explore the top 5 reasons you should consider earning your BSN.
1. “BSN-In-Ten” Legislation
In 2017, New York became the first and only state in the country to enact “BSN-In-Ten” legislation, thus requiring that licensed NY Registered Nurses must obtain a BSN degree within ten years of their initial licensure. While to date, New York is the only state with this type of legislation currently in effect, there is much discussion going on nationwide about whether or not a BSN should be mandated. Other states, such as New Jersey, have been working on similar legislation. Earning a bachelor’s degree can only prepare you for possible changes in the future and allow you to be a leader in the workforce.
2. Professional Development
The American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics, Provision 5.5, describes the importance of nurses being responsible for their own professional growth to achieve the highest possible standards. Nurses should be committed to lifelong learning and advancing their education through higher degrees is but one step on the journey. One of the first messages in the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Future of Nursing report in 2011 is that “nurses should practice to the fullest extent of their education and training” in order to transform healthcare. The IOM report also recommends nurses achieving higher levels of education, and the report initiated the goal of an 80% BSN workforce by 2020. Holding a BSN degree is a crucial step in maximizing a nurse’s potential. The possibilities for nurses are limitless. Nurses can earn all the way up to a doctoral degree in nursing (PhD or DNP). They can practice as a Nurse Practitioner or a Nurse Anesthetist, or perhaps conduct life-changing research. All of these impactful career paths begin with a BSN degree.
3. More Job Opportunities
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2018 that a BSN degree was considered “typical entry level education” for Registered Nurses. While nurses can find work without the degree, the reality is that many hospitals are requiring a minimum of BSN degree for its nurses. Other jobs like management, leadership roles, jobs in continuing nursing education accreditation, and more are all entry-level BSN positions. Magnet® hospitals especially seek BSN-prepared nurses. To position yourself as a highly qualified candidate in a competitive job market and to open yourself up to a variety of potential job opportunities or career paths, a BSN degree is highly recommended.
4. Better Patient Outcomes
Research confirms that baccalaureate-prepared nurses contribute to better patient outcomes, including lower patient mortality rates. While this is not to say that nurses who do not have a bachelor’s degree provide inferior or unsafe care, the literature supports a connection between nurses with the degree and certain quality and safety metrics. With more nurses reaching higher levels of education and implementing evidence-based practice, healthcare can begin to improve for both patients and staff.
5. Increased Pay
Nurses often enter the profession out of a passion for helping others. However, it is important to consider salary when choosing a career path or pursuing higher education. While salary ranges are based on geographical location, experience, and more, one study found that on average, there is a $6,000 difference in pay between ADN and BSN prepared nurses. Having the degree also positions you for higher-level positions, such as management, which comes with a higher pay scale.
Thanks to online learning and flexible bridge programs, nurses can earn their BSN degrees in a timely and economical way. Employers may even offer incentives for nurses to return to school. Nurses can begin a BSN program as their initial nursing education or attend an RN-BSN program, or even one that allows the nurse to earn both a BSN and MSN in an accelerated format. All nurses and prospective nursing students should consider a program and degree that will fit their personal and professional goals.
The impact of a nurse is substantial, regardless of the letters after his or her name. To fully maximize your potential, become a well-qualified candidate for the best jobs, and to further your commitment to lifelong learning, consider earning a BSN degree.