A Registered Nurse (RN) must have a license and can receive this licensing can come through one of several paths. These include a diploma from a hospital based program, an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), and a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN). Whichever path is chosen, successful completion provides an individual with eligibility to take the RN licensing exam, which must be passed before becoming an RN.The difference between these paths can be quite great. A diploma from a hospital based program, which takes around three years to complete, may be much more focused on application and practice and less on coursework. An ADN is generally a two year program available through a community college, where students take all their prerequisites before enrolling in the nursing program. These paths may be less expensive than a bachelor’s degree and may have more flexibility in terms of hours; so many individuals find these programs to be attractive.
Unfortunately, RNs without a bachelor’s degree may find themselves at a disadvantage for several reasons. Nurses who have completed BSN programs typically have had more opportunities for clinical experience in settings other than hospitals, and have also had more extensive training in areas non-specific to nursing, such as communication and critical thinking. In addition, opportunities for advancement may be limited without a BSN.
Many positions in administration, consulting, and teaching require at least a BSN, and successful completion of a bachelor’s degree is a necessity for specializations requiring graduate coursework. For this reason, many RNs enroll in RN to BSN programs, which provide a bridge for those already licensed as RNs to complete a bachelor’s degree. Many programs offer online courses to provide the greatest degree of flexibility. For RNs interested in ensuring themselves the best job opportunities, an RN to BSN program is an excellent choice for future advancement.