If you’re looking for a career that offers ample job opportunities while allowing you to make a difference in people’s lives, look no further than America’s most trusted profession for nearly two decades — registered nurses.
Many areas across the country are facing a chronic shortage of RNs that is only expected to get worse as the number of retired Americans significantly increases, making now the perfect time to go back to school to become a nurse.
However, while countless nursing programs and degree paths exist, you need to be certain about what route you take. That’s why, today, we’ll be talking about why a BSN degree is important in nursing.
The Benefits of Earning a BSN Degree
If you were to walk into a hospital today and ask a handful of nurses what degree they hold, no doubt you’d find a healthy mix of Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees, as well as some Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees.
However, if you conduct this same informal poll with only new nurses — a greater proportion will likely say BSN — and there’s a reason for this shift. Increasingly, a BSN degree is becoming a necessary qualification for new RNs hoping to land their dream job. In fact, some hospitals are even requiring ADN-educated nurses to go back to school to earn a BSN.
Here’s why it makes sense to start your nursing career with a BSN degree.
BSN-Educated Nurses Yield Better Patient Outcomes
That a higher level of education merely looks better on a resume has little to do with why a growing number of hospitals and medical centers prefer BSN-educated RNs to nurses with an ADN.
Healthcare HR recruiters are increasingly focused on attracting nurses with a BSN or higher, due in large part to the ample data showing that better-educated nurses lead to better outcomes for patients. This includes lower patient mortality, 30-day readmission and failure-to-rescue rates — and why this has a lot to do with the thorough preparation BSN nursing students receive. It’s also the reason the Institute of Medicine (IOM) called for 80% of registered nurses in the U.S. to hold a BSN degree by the year 2020.
Of course, regardless of whether you earn a BSN or an ADN, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination to practice as an RN.
It should be noted, however, that the Texas Board of Nursing has set different competency levels for nurses with BSN vs. ADN degrees. So while both degrees provide the baseline knowledge you need for professional practice, BSN students also focus on important topics such as behavioral health, the coordination of care, cultural competency, data analysis, evidence-based practice, public health issues and research principles.
That’s in addition to a more well-rounded education overall — thanks to the liberal arts and sciences courses taken during the first two years of a traditional BSN program, and which are typically required for admittance into Accelerated BSN tracks. The University of the Incarnate Word second-degree ABSN track, for example, requires applicants to hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree for admission.
In turn, better patient outcomes and satisfaction levels can help hospitals build patient loyalty, earn prestigious awards and rankings — like Magnet® accreditation status — and even secure better reimbursement rates, making it smart business sense to hire BSN-educated RNs.
A BSN Degree Is Your Entryway to a Wealth of Nursing Careers
While a little more than half of all RNs work in hospitals, registered nurses can find work in a variety of settings, especially with a BSN degree. Compared to nurses who begin their careers with an ADN, RNs with a BSN have more options when it comes to careers, especially after gaining a few years of experience.
In addition to the places you’d expect to find BSN-educated nurses — such as hospitals and clinics — they can also be found working in schools, for insurance companies (for example, as nurse navigators), at factories, on cruise ships, as consultants to law firms and health publications, for government agencies, and as emergency care staff at major events, among many other places.
Not only can well-qualified nurses work in a variety of settings, they’re also not limited to the basic 9 to 5 schedule that many people are. Typically, nurses in hospitals work three 12-hour shifts a week, either during the day or night; however, nurses in outpatient settings may work five 8-hour shifts a week. Also, unlike many professions that pay well and require you to work 40 hours a week, many nurses choose to work part-time.
A Path to Nurse Management Opportunities
While some people may go into nursing with the explicit goal of someday becoming a manager or nurse practitioner — which, to be clear, involves earning an MSN and additional certification — most only realize their management ambitions after working for a few years.
Of course, in many settings, a BSN degree is a prerequisite to being assigned as a charge nurse or landing that nurse manager promotion. So while it’s always possible to go back to school after earning an ADN — and many nurses do, sometimes as required by their employers — starting your career with a BSN degree puts you one step closer to a wealth of opportunities, including in management.
A BSN Degree Is Closer Than You Think
Given the many opportunities for BSN-educated RNs — as well as the higher level of care they can provide — it’s easy to see why a BSN degree is vital in nursing … and why it makes sense to start your career with one.
With the Accelerated BSN track at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, you can not only start your education sooner but also graduate ready to sit for the NCLEX in as few as 16 months. Blending coursework, hands-on labs and clinical rotations, this innovative path to nursing is designed specifically for students who hold non-nursing bachelor’s degrees and want to switch careers. Give us a call today, or fill out the form to find out whether UIW ABSN is a good fit for you.