Bachelor's Degree Overview: Why Should You Get a BSN?
Explore what goes into earning a BSN or RN-to-BSN.
About a bachelor's degree in nursing
Earning your bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree is a big commitment, but it's a choice that can hugely elevate your nursing career. Achieving a BSN requires hard work; you'll need to complete a combination of technical learning as well as hands-on practice. The payoff for your hard work, however, will be opportunities for greater earning and more responsibility as a registered nurse (RN).
Why should I earn my BSN?
If you've already achieved RN status through an associate's degree program, you might be interested in completing an RN-BSN program. Earning a higher degree as a nurse can put you in a position for higher pay, and it often contributes to a heightened position in the workplace. An RN-BSN program can be completed while you continue working as a nurse, which means you'll advance your career without having to take time off.
Earning a BSN is a smart choice for anyone interested in a lifelong career in health care. Having a BSN can put you in the desirable position of having lucrative salary opportunities as well as multiple job opportunities available. A shortage of nurses is a very real problem in the health care field today, so having a BSN will make you a hot commodity for many facilities.
If you're already working as an RN, you have a great edge on achieving a BSN. Today, many hospitals offer tuition reimbursement programs; this means that if you work as a nurse and want to earn a higher degree, your workplace might help you pay for it. On top of that, already having achieved RN status means obtaining your BSN will take less time—and still have a great payoff.
How long does my program take to complete?
Earning any bachelor's degree will take three-to-four years, and the same goes for a BSN. If you already have received certification as a RN, completing a RN-BSN program can take less time; if you work hard, an RN-BSN can be completed in about two years. A BSN program is the right choice for someone who wants a good career in health care and has four years to dedicate to learning, or someone who is already a RN and wants to further their career.
Am I a good fit for this program?
Being a nurse is no picnic—you'll be facing long hours, a lot of time on your feet, and sometimes, patients who might be uncooperative or agitated. But having your BSN can also mean a highly rewarding career, where you'll have opportunities to positively impact your patients' outlook and quality of life. Being a nurse isn't for everyone, and there are certainly some individuals who are more cut out for the job. Important skills for someone seeking a BSN include:
- Ability to deal with stress: An average day for a nurse in any setting can include dealing with patients' severe injuries, illnesses, and sometimes, deaths. Being able to process and handle difficult and even traumatizing situations is a vital skill for a nurse to have.
Quick decision making skills: Caring for sick or injured people means that sometimes, you'll be the one who needs to decide the best solution for your patient. In an emergency, you'll need to act quickly and calmly to avoid wasting time and putting your patient in further danger. Being able to think quickly while you're on the job is a must.
A sense of sympathy: Being confined to a hospital or nursing home can be scary and extremely difficult for patients, and sometimes one of the best ways to provide proper care is to show your patients kindness. Being able to comfort patients even when they might be frustrated or uncooperative goes a long way in the health care field.
- Ability to collaborate: Having a BSN (as opposed to an associate's degree or nursing certificate) can sometimes mean that you will be expected to oversee other nurses with lower degrees. This means that you'll need to be a clear and effective communicator who can give instruction without confusion.
- Endurance: Nursing is not for the lazy worker; you'll be on your feet for much of the time, and especially when you start out, you may be working nights or weekends. Being physically fit will be greatly to your benefit when it comes time to spend a long night shift on your feet.
What will I learn in my degree program?
You can earn a BSN through a four-year institution or through a community college, and oftentimes these programs can be taken online. If you have not yet achieved RN status and are beginning your nursing education for the first time, your degree program will contain a mix of hands-on, practical courses and instructional learning. Courses to be completed include anatomy, physiology, biology, and nutrition, among others. In addition to in-class (or online) instruction, you'll also receive practice in your hands-on nursing skills. This practice might take place at a local campus or hospital, depending on your program.
If you already have your associate's degree or certification as a nurse, your bachelor's degree may take less time to complete, but you'll still need to take both technical and practical courses. Whether you're working on a first time BSN or RN-BSN, your courses will contain a good deal of science-based learning and nursing skills instruction. A typical BSN course list might include:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Emergency Care
- Health Assessment
- Research and Scholarship for Evidence-Based Practice
- Family, Community, and Population-Based Care
- Public and Global Health
- Issues and Trends in Nursing
Many of these courses will be a blend of instruction or lecture-based learning with clinical, hands-on learning, so that you'll have exposure to real life nursing experiences in tandem with your technical learning.
See if online programs are available for bachelor's degree-level programs.