Nursing is more than a job-it's an opportunity to help others while building a lasting career. Nurses diagnose and treat patients in hospitals, care centers, and private offices. A diploma or associate's degree in nursing (ADN) may prepare you for entry-level nursing jobs, you may need a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) to advance to supervisory or administrative roles. If you already work as a registered nurse and want to advance your education, an RN to BSN program may take your education to the next level.
What Is an RN to BSN Program?
RN to BSN degree programs are designed for registered nurses who may want more education to expand their career opportunities. If you began your nursing career by pursuing a diploma or ADN and passed a state licensing exam, you may pursue an RN to BSN program to expand your skill set. This may qualify you for management positions. You may even pursue your BSN online and keep your current job.
Requirements for RN to BSN degrees may vary by school. Some programs may require prerequisites and a GPA of 3.0 or above to enroll, while others may accept any registered nurse in good standing with his or her State. The RN to BSN curriculum may build on your nursing experience, and may also improve the following skills:
Many students specialize in a certain area of nursing, such as trauma care, emergency room services, or psychiatry. On-campus RN to BSN degree programs may also include clinical experience.
Whether you choose to pursue an on-campus or online RN to BSN program, expect to spend three to four years completing your degree.
RN to BSN Advantages and Career Opportunities
For some nursing career paths, you may need a BSN or Master of Science in nursing (MSN) degree.
According to the BLS, positions in medical research, teaching, consulting, or administration may require a BSN. If you want to advance to nursing management, for example, a BSN with an emphasis on medical technology and leadership could prepare you to manage a department and provide guidance to other nurses. Some states may require a BSN for state licensing. So, prusing your degree could expand your career options down the road should you need to relocate.
A BSN is a prerequisite if you choose to pursue an MSN degree--the degree required to become an advanced practice nurse. Advanced practice nurses may include these positions:
clinical nurse specialists
Advanced practice nurses may work either independently or with a doctor in a specific area of medicine.
Career Outlook and Average Salaries with an RN to BSN
According to the BLS, employment opportunities for registered nurses will be excellent through 2018. In fact, the nursing industry is expected to add 581,500 new jobs from 2008 to 2018--more than any other career. Exact employment growth varies by facility, but doctors' offices and home health care services will probably need more nurses.
Education is key to expanding your career prospects. The BLS expects nurses with at least a bachelor's in nursing will enjoy the most job opportunities from 2008 to 2018, and demand should be especially high for advanced practice nurses. You may also secure a more competitive, high-paying position if you advance your education. In 2008, registered nurses earned an average salary of $66,530, with the top 10 percent earning approximately $93,700. This salary range reflects differences in geographic location, facility, experience, and education. Medical and health care administrators earned $90,970.
To practice, nurses must be licensed by their respective states. In order to fulfill National licensing requirements, you must:
graduate from an accredited nursing degree program
pass the National Council Licensure Examination
earn a BSN--in some states.
Before enrolling in an RN to BSN degree program, check with your state for specific licensing requirements and accreditation information.
It's Never Too Late to Learn
Thanks to the convenience of online RN to BSN degrees, it's never too late to advance your education and expand your career opportunities. Whether you want to pursue a career in nursing management or simply upgrade your knowledge, an RN to BSN degree may build on your experience and take your education to the next level.