To become a registered nurse, all you need is an associate’s degree; depending on your career goals, furthering your education may not be necessary. For many RNs who only have the minimal education requirements, their desired career path requires more advanced degrees that will provide them with the skills and knowledge necessary to fulfill these more involved health care roles. If you are currently contemplating going back to school for your BSN, here are some important considerations.
Why Should I Get My BSN?
Nurses are typically in high demand, and you will likely have no problem getting a job with just an associate’s degree. But, a BSN could give you an advantage in a highly competitive area and may qualify you for a bump in pay. Furthermore, if you have an interest in specializing in a certain field of nursing or would like the option to take on roles outside of direct patient care, such as administration or teaching, you will need higher levels of education. Most of the highest paid nursing jobs require a master’s degree, and you will need to have your BSN before even considering this route. A BSN will not only teach you about patient care, but about critical thinking, communication and leadership—all skills that will serve you well as the evolving world of healthcare will provide more opportunities for advanced practice nurses. Many experts foresee a physician shortage that will only be made worse by upcoming changes to health care laws—there is a call for greater responsibility for nurses, and pay to match.
How Long Will It Take?
Unlike a traditional bachelor’s degree program, which typically takes four years, a RN to BSN program can usually be completed in one to two years, depending on the program and your study pace—this holds true regardless of in-person programs or an online rn-bsn program. Since most programs allot up to 30 credits for being a practicing nurse, and accept credits on core classes taken to earn your associate’s degree, most nurses can get their BSN in about 12 months.
A BSN May Translate to Better Patient Care
While many RNs are touchy about the subject of whether getting a more advanced degree makes for a better nurse, research suggests that the more nurses on staff with at least a BSN, the better the healthcare. Research found that a 10 percent increase in nurses with a BSN resulted in nine fewer deaths per 1000 patients and a five percent lower mortality rate after commonplace surgical procedures. There also seems to be reduced medication errors and happier patients. Now, while there have probably been plenty of nurses with a bachelor’s degree that screwed up and standard RNs with impeccable records, these findings make a strong case for furthering your education. A BSN may make you a better nurse, and many healthcare facilities may have a greater interest in hiring someone who has a level of education linked with better patient care.
About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about all things career and education, and is supportive of those who wish to advance their careers.