As a practicing registered nurse, you may be
considering going back to school to earn your BSN degree. This could be a good move because hundreds of hospitals around the country have started to require that their nurses have at least a bachelor’s degree. Even more hospitals say that they prefer to hire BSNs.
You’re probably weighing pros and cons and have maybe even begun researching programs. You have a lot of options; more than 600 schools now have RN to BSN programs, which are designed for practicing RNs that want to earn their bachelor’s degree. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, enrollment in such programs is at around 90,000. This number is up considerably from a decade ago, when less than 30,000 students were enrolled in RN to BSN programs.
1. Filling a Need
The nursing demand is visible in many hospitals, which are the largest employers of nurses and offer some of the highest nurse salary numbers. But even in general, employers are looking for more qualified nurses that can fill advanced roles. Studies that link more educated nurses with better patient care indicate that the best way to ensure this is to hire nursing professionals who hold BSN degrees. As The New York Times points out, “A 2008 federal government survey showed that … half of the nation’s 3 million registered nurses had a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing,” and that figure could rise to as much as 80 percent by 2020.
2. Defining a Career Path
All of this data illustrate that now is a great time to earn your RN to BSN degree, but more reasons to go back to nursing school include:
- Some career paths are only open to nurses who hold a baccalaureate degree. In fact, four of the highest-paying nursing careers (clinical nurse specialist, nurse-midwife, nurse anesthetist and nurse practitioner) require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree.
- A BSN is a prerequisite for admission into graduate nursing programs in teaching, consulting and research.
- A BSN is also a great way to branch out into administrative or educational positions.
- The course work you complete as part of an RN to BSN degree program is about much more than just clinical skills. You’ll have access to training in areas like leadership, communication and critical thinking, all of which are sought after in today’s changing health care industry.
3. Providing Better Patient Care
For many nurses, one of the most important reasons for earning their BSN is the ability it gives them to provide better patient care. According to a 2003 study, “Educational Levels of Hospital Nurses and Surgical Patient mortality,” an increased proportion of BSN-prepared nurses in a health care setting is associated with decreased patient mortality. Greater numbers of BSN nurses are also associated with fewer cases of failure to rescue. This information suggests that increasing the educational background of nurses could produce higher quality patient care, which is great news for nurses like you. Hospitals are beginning to take research like this seriously, causing them to hire more and more BSN-prepared nurses.
4. Earning More Money
Another popular reason nurses give for earning their BSN is increased salary. While some hospitals and health care organizations pay all their nurses the same salary regardless of degree level earned, it is becoming common practice for BSN-prepared nurses to make more than an RN salary.
- The median yearly salary for BSN-prepared nurses is more than $60,000.
- Nurses with their associate degree make closer to $50,000 annually.
The upward mobility provided to BSN nurses can possibly explain the pay differential, as nurses with a BSN are often preferred for higher-level positions. BSN nurses can also work in areas like nursing research, orthopedic nursing, neonatal nursing and pediatric endocrinology, which offer relatively high salaries.
Why Notre Dame College Online
Our degree program provides the ideal educational opportunity for registered nurses like you who want to advance their education and career. It is based on a core body of knowledge that includes both the science and art of the nursing discipline and helps you develop your passion for helping others. Our liberal arts approach helps you become a well-rounded nursing professional who can meet the challenges of our society’s changing health needs.