Registered nurses (RNs) help make preliminary assessments of a patient's condition, gather medical histories and symptom information for physicians, and work with patients to ensure that institutional and out-patient care needs are met. RNs often serve as the primary liaison between doctors and patients, and they can work in multiple levels within a healthcare institution.
Regardless of their level of training -- e.g., an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) -- all RNs must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. What separates ADN holders from BSN holders is the increased level of responsibility enjoyed by bachelor's graduates in terms of specialized and independent assessment and care, as well as more potential management opportunities. Without a BSN, career advancement can be difficult.
Earning a BSN also opens career opportunities outside of hospitals or general practice offices; for example, these professionals can pursue government positions in public health or work at drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers. If you aspire to become a department manager or a manager of RNs, then you must earn a bachelor's degree (or higher).
Why Should RNs Earn a BSN Degree?
The principal benefit to earning a BSN is increased mobility and flexibility -- a bachelor's degree enables workers to move into higher positions. The longer time commitment of a bachelor's program translates into more specialized training and the chance to hone leadership and analytical skills. In a part-time BSN program, associate holders can take advantage of their working knowledge to earn a more advanced degree and increase their chances of professional success.
Furthermore, as healthcare continues to evolve, so too do its educational requirements. According to the Institute of Medicine, "the proportion of nurses with baccalaureate degrees [will] be increased to 80% by 2020." Therefore, future nurses will need a BSN to remain competitive on the job market.
Beyond flexibility, a BSN can lead to increased earning potential. Higher-level positions in hospitals or institutional administration, government advising, and advocacy receive more lucrative salaries. Increasing your level of education can impact your earning potential significantly.
Furthermore, a BSN opens pathways into specialized professional careers. Individuals with a four-year degree can become administrators in patient care or financial departments. They can also consider pursuing nurse anesthesiology or midwifery positions. Furthermore, with a graduate-level education, workers can even become advanced practice registered nurses and create their own private practices.
Advancing Your Career Through an RN-to-BSN Program
RN-to-BSN programs are designed for registered nurses who have passed the NCLEX-RN exam and hold a nursing license. Bachelor's programs also require students to complete liberal arts coursework to advance their writing and analytical skills. Additionally, many programs promote cultural sensitivity by delving into the racial, religious, and socioeconomic influences affecting modern medicine and healthcare and government systems.
In terms of science classes, a BSN track covers biology and microbiology, chemistry, physics, sociology, and psychology. Depending on your school and program, you may also pursue specialized coursework in personal areas of interest, such as anatomy and physiology, global healthcare development, nutrition and diet, and ethics in nursing. If you plan to earn a master's degree, courses in OBGYN nursing, pediatrics, and anesthesiology may also be important.
All RN-to-BSN programs involve a certain level of hands-on training, which is typically carried out at your educational institution or through your employer. RN-to-BSN programs are offered both on school campuses and online.