Compelling Reasons to Earn Your Bachelor of Science in Nursing: Why the BSN Is a Must-Have for RNs
Published on: September 19, 2023
You are passionate about nursing and eager to make a difference in the healthcare field. How you proceed will determine how quickly you are able to realize this goal.
There are many paths to becoming a registered nurse, but few are as respected as the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Representing an essential step up from the associate degree in nursing (ADN), this degree can say a lot about the clinical skills and knowledge held by today’s top nurses. Keep reading to discover the value of this degree and the general benefits of nursing.
Benefits of Earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
There are many different degrees, certifications and credentials that promise to boost your nursing career. Navigating these can sometimes feel overwhelming, particularly if you’re unsure which direction you want your career to take.
If you want the greatest range of options available, your best bet will be to work toward your BSN. Yes, this takes a lot of time and effort to obtain, but the payoff can be considerable. The potential benefits range from higher pay to increased specialty options and even personal confidence and satisfaction.
Importance of Degrees in Healthcare
College diplomas and degrees are necessary in every area of the healthcare sector. These serve many functions, providing targeted training, a resume boost and, of course, preparation for critical licensure exams. From the employer’s perspective, degrees offer valuable insight into the level of training graduates have received and how well-rounded their skill set might realistically be.
Degrees are especially important in nursing. Without them, professionals cannot hope to achieve the status of a licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) or nurse practitioner (NP).
This can be complicated, however, as there is not always a one-to-one correlation between the type of degree earned and the types of jobs available. For example, it is possible to become an RN without your bachelor’s, although those who become RNs by way of ADN programs are often advised to eventually pursue their BSN degrees.
No matter which approach is preferred for securing a specific type of licensure or job, degrees will always play a critical role in the process. They provide a powerful yet adaptable framework to guide you — the aspiring nurse — on your unique career path.
Career and Job Benefits
For many current and future nurses, the decision to pursue a BSN is easy; they want to move up the career ladder and pursue positions with greater prestige.
While a BSN will not automatically result in achieving a higher position in nursing — many nurses continue as RNs after earning this degree — it can provide a pathway to higher levels of nursing or, in the meantime, a considerable boost in pay. We delve into these compelling career advantages of nursing below:
Higher Job Qualification
A BSN may not be required to become an RN, but it’s increasingly cited as preferred or even necessary for getting the best RN jobs. Depending on where you live and work, it may also be crucial for maintaining your status.
New York’s BSN in 10 law, for example, mandates that nurses secure their BSN within ten years of initially getting licensed. Even when this degree isn’t required within a specific timeframe, many employers provide better job opportunities for nurses with bachelor’s degree training.
The best insight into BSN-related job opportunities comes from an annual survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). In the 2022 survey, 71.7 percent of employers revealed a strong preference for hiring BSN graduates. What’s more, over one in four hospitals and other facilities made the BSN an outright requirement for new hires.
Career Mobility and Progression
The BSN represents a crucial step on the nursing career path, which sometimes begins with a diploma or associate degree in nursing (ADN) but often continues with a series of increasingly advanced degrees.
If you’ve set your sights on becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) or an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), the BSN will be a critical step on the way. Without it, you cannot enter the many graduate programs designed for reaching the highest levels of nursing. Even within registered nursing, leadership roles and specialty positions are often only available to BSN graduates.
BSN programs provide numerous opportunities to take a deep dive into critical areas that might only receive a brief overview while pursuing an ADN. While highly technical yet surface-level clinical skills are often the sole focus within ADN courses and clinical experiences, BSN programs provide more of a broad-based, holistic approach.
A typical BSN heavily emphasizes evidence-based medical research, leadership development and insight into global health policy or nursing informatics. Equipped with these in-demand skills, BSN nurses are better prepared to handle complex procedures and situations, often while enjoying greater autonomy.
Education and Knowledge Benefits
While nursing diplomas and the ADN can provide a valuable foundation, BSN programs expand on this, going beyond strictly technical training to provide more nuanced insight into the healthcare field and the RN’s role within this quickly changing sector.
By exploring topics such as public health, disease prevention and cultural competence, BSN programs empower nurses to provide proactive, empathetic care that meets patients where they’re at while also addressing big-picture concerns. This holistic approach can produce numerous advantages, such as:
Better Patient Care
A growing body of research indicates that professionals equipped with their bachelor’s in nursing are better capable of achieving desired patient health outcomes and even boosting patient satisfaction.
A study published in the journal Health Affairs reveals that patients fare better after cardiac arrest if they’re treated in hospitals in which a more significant share of nurses have bachelor’s degrees. Similarly, research indicates that BSN-trained nurses are less likely to make medication administration errors (MAEs).
From anatomy to pharmacology, bachelor’s programs introduce nursing students to a vast and complex body of knowledge. Through rigorous coursework and long hours of study, nursing students master these far-reaching concepts while bolstering their understanding through exposure to the most cutting-edge research.
Job Experience While in School
The best degree programs provide ample opportunities to apply new skills and knowledge in a practical setting. This is a core component of any BSN program, which delivers the perfect blend of theoretical coursework and clinical experiences.
Simply put, these programs offer plenty of time for nursing students to immerse themselves in real-world healthcare environments, complete with all the urgency and nuance that can be difficult to convey in even the best-taught college courses.
What’s more, BSN programs offer numerous opportunities to integrate research, theory and practice through courses, clinicals and other valuable learning experiences. The result: a well-rounded education that increases confidence among RNs and ensures that they are fully prepared to address and even embrace the challenges of modern nursing.
Ability to Pursue Further Education
As we’ve touched on, your nursing education need not end with your BSN. This degree opens the door to many other options, which will allow you to continue climbing the healthcare career ladder.
Top academic opportunities available to BSN program graduates include:
- Master of Science in Nursing. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is a valuable graduate-level degree that prepares you to become an APRN. While pursuing your MSN, you’ll dive into specialty areas such as health informatics or public health nursing. The MSN can also be an excellent pathway to becoming a nurse practitioner.
- Doctor of Nursing Practice. As nursing’s terminal degree, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is favored as the top option to help nursing professionals translate cutting-edge research into clinical best practices. DNP programs address the growing complexity of the modern healthcare environment.
- Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. While NP and advanced practice nursing tend to be the more streamlined career paths for BSN graduates, there is also value in pursuing PA training.
While there is no targeted bridge program to prepare RNs to become PAs, this path is not unheard of and can provide a wide range of clinical opportunities for ambitious healthcare professionals.
While research on the job satisfaction of ADN-trained vs. BSN-trained nurses remains inconclusive, it’s still quite clear that higher levels of education deliver a variety of compelling advantages.
The benefits of a nursing degree often center around the increased autonomy, freedom and general job mobility enjoyed by more-employable BSN nurses. Many BSN graduates also report feeling more confident and capable upon earning their bachelor’s degree.
While most nurses enter BSN programs with the intention of continuing to work in the healthcare field, these programs also provide a range of transferable skills worth considering.
Should you eventually choose to move into a new specialty or a different profession altogether, you’ll find it far easier to make this switch simply because you’ve developed such a broad base of skills.
This goes beyond expected clinical competencies to include a variety of soft skills, which are highly valued by all types of employers. Examples include:
- Attention to detail
- Written communication
- Public speaking
- Teamwork and collaboration
Increased Earning Potential
One of the most noteworthy pros of being a nurse? Strong earning potential, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics highlighting median annual wages of $77,600 for RNs.
This figure does not, however, separate those with their BSN and those with their ADN. Because the BSN reflects advanced skills and a higher level of training, this is often rewarded with significant boosts in pay and a major edge in hiring for the most in-demand jobs.
Your Story Starts Here
As you prepare to advance your nursing career, take a close look at available degree programs to determine which align best with your specific goals.
At Park University, you’ll find a pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), which prepares you to take the NCLEX exam and become a registered nurse at the bachelor’s level. Get in touch today to learn more about our BSN program and the benefits of nursing.