A BSN can qualify you to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. While it’s possible to become a nurse with an associate degree, employers generally prefer to hire nurses with a BSN. Plus, a BSN opens the door to advancement possibilities.
Nurses are essential for keeping communities healthy and thriving. If you’re thinking about making a career transition to nursing, there are a few different career paths to consider, such as earning an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Why get a BSN when an ADN only takes two years?
First, it can actually be possible to earn a BSN in less time than it would take you to earn an ADN if you qualify for an ABSN program. Second, health care employers generally prefer to hire BSN-prepared nurses instead of ADN-prepared nurses, as a BSN nurses provide for better patient outcomes.
Pursuing a BSN requires a certain level of commitment (and rightfully so, as being a nurse takes major dedication), so it matters that you know why putting in the extra effort to earn a BSN is important. We cover eight of the key reasons why a BSN in nursing is important.
1. Better Nursing Skills
Why get a BSN? Well, if you’re considering going back to school to become a nurse, you likely aspire to be the best nurse possible. For the sake of your patients, developing excellence in your field is key. After all, you’ll be responsible for the lives of others, and your patients will need to trust you in the most difficult times.
Therefore, as you’re considering the educational path you should take, earning a BSN stands out. A bachelor’s degree program offers academic rigor, so you can be confident as you step into your nursing career.
It’s been shown through numerous research studies that nurses with a bachelor’s degree provide better care to patients. BSN educated nurses have been shown to promote a decrease in patient mortality rate, better safety preparation and shorter patient hospital stays.
Earning your BSN sets you up to provide excellent patient care, and this will also help you professionally because health care employers know the value of having competent nurses.
What Is a BSN and an ABSN Program?
A BSN is a nursing degree. Earning a BSN can qualify you to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam, which you’ll need to pass to obtain the license necessary to work as a registered nurse (RN).
An ABSN program is an accelerated nursing degree that confers a BSN. If you have prior non-nursing college education, you may be eligible to enroll in an ABSN program. This can allow you to earn your degree in as few as 16 months, compared to the typical four years it usually takes to earn a BSN.
Like a traditional BSN program, an ABSN program offers a rigorous curriculum that teaches nursing knowledge, evidence-based practices and clinical skills. You’ll take a blend of classes, skills laboratories and clinical rotations. The curriculum at Averett explores a wide range of nursing topics in depth, ranging from maternal health to ethics in health sciences. The clinical rotations (“clinicals”) are placements in hospitals and clinics. During a clinical, you’ll provide direct patient care under supervision.
2. Job Security
Because of the nursing shortage and the strong research backing education in nursing, employers have a high demand for nurses who hold BSN degrees. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health care employers are expected to hire about 203,000 new registered nurses each year from 2021 through 2031.
Because nurses with a bachelor’s degree produce better outcomes for their patients, it comes as no surprise that more and more employers are making a BSN a job requirement for registered nurse positions.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has recommended that 80% of nurses on hospital staffs should hold a BSN by 2020. As of 2022, more than 70% of registered nurses have a bachelor’s degree, according to the 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey. Although the 80% goal has not yet been met, the health care industry has made great strides in continuing to improve the lives of patients nationwide.
3. More Specialty Choices
Why get a BSN? With a BSN, you can choose to pursue any of a wide range of nursing specialties. Bedside hospital roles, clinic-based roles and non-clinical roles all become available with a bachelor’s degree. (Some specializations require additional academic credentials, training and certifications.) That means you can find the specialty that best matches your interests and personality.
In the clinical realm, nurses with a BSN can enter fields such as emergency nursing, critical care nursing, medical/surgical nursing, pediatric nursing, obstetric nursing and much more. You can also choose to work in a clinic or outpatient treatment center.
If you don’t find your exact fit in a clinical setting, as a BSN-educated nurse, you have plenty of other career options that go beyond the bedside. While by no means an extensive list, just a handful of them include:
- Psychiatric mental health nurse
- Nurse case manager
- Nursing informatics
- School nurse
- Legal consultancy nurse
- Research nurse
4. Additional Employer Options
When you earn a BSN, you’ll be able to pursue positions with more health care employers, which expands your career choices further. For example, according to the AACN, the Veteran’s Administration requires nurses to have at least a bachelor’s degree in order to be promoted beyond entry-level positions. The U.S. military also favors the BSN, as active-duty nurses within the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Army must have a bachelor’s degree.
Another place where a BSN opens doors is Magnet hospitals, which are health care organizations that have earned recognition for excellence and education. According to the AACN, to maintain their Magnet status, these hospitals focus on hiring a high percentage of nurses educated with a BSN. Furthermore, Magnet hospitals require any nurse managers or leaders to hold at least a bachelor’s degree.
5. Higher Salary
One of the most straightforward reasons for earning a BSN rather than taking other registered nursing paths is that you’ll have a greater ability to negotiate for a higher salary.
According to the 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey, the median salary for nurses with a BSN is higher than for the salary for nurses with a diploma or an associate degree. This alone is a compelling example of why a BSN in nursing is important.
6. Nursing Leadership Roles
While it’s true an associate degree in nursing (ADN) is the minimum educational credential needed to work as an RN, BSN-educated nurses typically qualify more often for management and supervisory roles. Many more doors open for you when you earn a BSN compared to an Associate Degree in Nursing. Thanks to your comprehensive nursing education, with a BSN, you’re much more likely to qualify to apply for specialized positions and supervisory or nursing leadership roles.
7. Opportunity to Become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
You’ll also need a bachelor’s degree in nursing if you ever decide to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)—the minimum educational requirement for advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) roles. These positions include nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist. Within these four main categories, there are further opportunities to choose subspecialties. Here’s a closer look:
- Nurse practitioner: A nurse practitioner emphasizes health management and preventive care. They can choose from varying specialties, such as adult-gerontology, psychiatric health, pediatrics and women’s health.
- Clinical nurse specialist: A clinical nurse specialist has advanced knowledge in a specialty area of nursing, such as pediatrics, women’s health, geriatrics, wound care or pain management.
- Certified registered nurse anesthetist: Nurse anesthetists are responsible for administering anesthetics to patients undergoing procedures, and for monitoring the health of patients before, during and after operations.
- Certified nurse midwife: These specialists provide quality care to women, with a focus on family planning, prenatal care and gynecological care.
Furthermore, APRN roles offer the potential to command a higher salary. According to the BLS, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners had a median annual salary of $123,780 as of 2021.
With advanced practice nursing roles, you can act as an independent practitioner, so it’s a good idea for nurses who aspire to have greater responsibility and scope of practice to earn a BSN. Getting a BSN sets you up to be eligible for an APRN program if you ever choose to advance your clinical career. Do note that aspiring APRNs must have more qualifications than a BSN. They must also complete a graduate program (there is a preference for APRNs with a Doctor of Nursing Practice or DNP degree, rather than an MSN degree). In addition, they must pass a certification exam in their specialty area.
8. Accelerated Timeline
Earning a BSN can take less time than ever before. While most traditional BSN programs take four years to complete, an accelerated program can allow students to earn their nursing degrees much more quickly. You’ll need to meet the program requirements, which may include taking the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) exam and completing certain prerequisites. However, no prior health care experience or knowledge is required.
Other admissions requirements can apply. For example, the admissions requirements at Averett include at least 60 non-nursing college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree with a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or higher.
Are you curious about the different types of BSN programs? Learn all about the differences between an accelerated BSN and a traditional BSN.
Become a Nurse in as Few as 16 Months
If you’re passionate about health care and have prior non-nursing college education, consider exploring the ABSN program at Averett. Our friendly admissions counselors will help you navigate the admissions process from start to finish. In our ABSN program, we offer exceptional student support services to facilitate ideal outcomes. Contact us today to find out if the ABSN program at Averett is a good fit for you!