A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a comprehensive degree that opens up a vast variety of opportunities for aspiring nurses. Even though entry level education for a career in nursing is an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), most employers expect their Registered Nurses (RNs) to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Nurses with a BSN degree are typically given greater responsibility, managerial roles and higher salaries, as compared to those with associate degrees.
The following guide provides an in-depth look into a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, including the coursework involved, specialties and opportunities available, and salary outlook.
Opportunities with a BSN
Nursing professionals have many opportunities to avail in several different settings such as hospitals, medical centers, offices of physicians, home health care service providers, outpatient care centers, etc. The top employers of registered nurses are General Medical and Surgical Hospitals with an employment figure of 1,729,200 for May 2020, followed by Offices of Physicians, with an employment figure of 192,300 for the same time period.
“Registered nurses who have a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) will have better job prospects than those without one”, as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job opportunities for registered nurses are expected to grow at 7%, which is faster than the average for all other occupations.
This high demand will largely be a result of the aging population and an increase in the number of people with chronic diseases. Nurses will be required to care for people with chronic conditions such as dementia, diabetes, obesity and arthritis.
In order to enhance your nursing career, there are many specialties available after a Bachelor of Nursing degree. Nurses who pursue these high-demand specialized certifications can avail several benefits in terms of greater employment possibilities, higher salaries and more opportunities of advancement.
BSN graduates can get specialty certificates to become neonatal nurses, nurse midwives, clinical nurses, prevention nurses, school nurses, dialysis nurses, family nurse practitioners, public health nurses, nurse anesthetists, and informatics nurses and so on. Each of these specializations would require the completion of relevant certificates. For instance, in order to become a neonatal nurse, you will have to obtain the Neonatal Resuscitation Program certification or a Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing certification.
How Much Can I Make After Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing?
As per the latest data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses made an annual median income of $73,300 in May 2019. The highest paying industry for nurses in the US was the government, paying a median salary of $79,790, followed by local, state and private hospitals, which paid an annual median income of $75,030 in 2019.
The top paying states for registered nurses were California, paying an annual mean wage of $120,560, followed by Hawaii, paying $104,830, Massachusetts, paying $96,250, Oregon, paying $96,230 and Alaska, paying $95,270 in May 2020. Nurses working in these states earned more on average than nurses working in other areas of the country.
How to Get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)?
A Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) is a 4-year long program that can lead to a multitude of careers in nursing. The following is a list of steps you need to follow in order to get a BSN degree.
This is a prerequisite for all nursing schools since subjects like Math, English, Social Studies and Science are an admission requirement.
To complete this step, you will first have to research programs that match your requirements in terms of location, fee structure, program specifications and campus facilities. Following that, apply and get admitted into a nursing program.
This would involve completing all theoretical and clinical requirements, including coursework and lab sessions.
You will be eligible to sit for the licensure exam once you have completed the BSN program requirements.
Types of Bachelor’s Degrees in Nursing
Students can go for a Bachelor of Nursing in several formats, depending on their level of education. Typically, a BSN lasts 4 years, though students can go for an accelerated BSN degree as well or pursue the degree in a part-time format.
Here is a list of the different types of Bachelor’s Degrees in Nursing:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing: This degree is a comprehensive 4-year long program that can be completed in online or on-campus format. Clinical coursework is completed in-person or via simulation experiences.
- LPN-to-BSN Programs: LPN-to-BSN programs usually take 2 to 3 years to complete and allow students to skip some foundational courses that have already been completed as part of the clinical requirements in their current place of employment.
- RN-to-BSN Programs: These programs are designed for students who already have an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) and wish to take their careers to the next level. RN-to-BSN programs are usually two years long, however, some accelerated programs do exist.
Admission Requirements for a BSN Program
Admission requirements for a BSN program typically vary from institute to institute. However, typical requirements include high school transcripts with a minimum GPA of 3.0, completed math and science prerequisites, academic recommendations, personal statement of purpose, in-person interview, SAT or ACT scores for first-time college applicants etc. Admission requirements for applicants to bridge programs may vary. We advise students to check the website of any program they wish to apply to.
Core Coursework in a BSN Program
The coursework of a typical BSN program combines general education courses along with nursing courses and clinical training. Completion of 120 credits is usually required, though this may vary from program to program.
Core curriculum in a BSN usually includes courses such as biology, psychology, sociology, statistics, ethics, technology, nutrition, family nursing, leadership and hospital administration, public health, psychosocial nursing and medical and surgical care. Other courses that are usually covered include pharmacology, nursing informatics, psychology, anatomy, etc.
Clinical and Lab Components in a BSN Program
BSN programs typically require students to complete components in a lab simulation setting or work an actual shift in a hospital or other medical facility. Candidates are given the chance to work under licensed RN mentors and learn directly from them as they deliver medicines, assess and diagnose patients, create treatment plans and monitor the results. These clinical components enable BSN students to shadow working Registered Nurses (RNs), apply classroom skills on patients in a medical setting, network with potential employers, and build up confidence.
What should I expect from an Online RN-to-BSN Program?
Expectations from an online RN-to-BSN program would vary according to your current status. For instance, if you are already a nurse, you ought to know that an online RN-to-BSN program would help you advance your career and skill set to the next level. This program would cover courses in nursing leadership, public health, safety and quality in nursing, genetics and genomics, etc.
Similarly, if it has been a long time since you were last in school, an RN-to-BSN program can help refresh your concepts and also enable you to learn some new ones. If you are worried that you might not ace the academics, student support, tutoring and digital libraries can help you get over the intimidation factor.
Should I get a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing?
A Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing can help you become more marketable as more and more hospitals and medical facilities now require nurses to possess at least a BSN degree. Having a BSN degree makes your resume more attractive to potential employers. Besides being more marketable, BSN degree holders typically get better benefits and compensation because of their advanced understanding of the field of nursing.
A Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing also opens doors to non-hospital opportunities, such as teaching, informatics, health policy or case management. And you can achieve all of this with your current schedule, thanks to the widespread availability of online programs in nursing.
A BSN degree is usually a prerequisite for many advanced nursing programs such as a Master’s in Nursing or certain specialty certifications.
Advantages of Getting a BSN
There are many advantages of getting a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The foremost benefit is greater career options, since most supervisory positions require a BSN degree.
Besides that, a BSN degree is usually an entry requirement for a master’s and doctoral nursing program, which leads to career advancement and higher salaries. Having a BSN degree also improves overall patient care and safety, thanks to the improved skill set achieved with the qualification.
Disadvantages of Getting a BSN
There are certain disadvantages of getting a BSN degree, such as the length of the program. Being a bachelor’s program, it means that students would spend four years studying before generating any income. Besides that, tuition for a four-year program would certainly be higher than 2-year programs such as an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). A BSN degree might not ensure a better salary and job outlook for positions that do not require a BSN degree in the first place.
How Much Does a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Cost?
The cost of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree depends on multiple factors such as the format of the degree, coursework involved, additional fees and per-credit fees. A traditional four-year long BSN degree would typically cost somewhere between $40,000 and $80,000, and can go as high as $100,000. A BSN degree would usually require the completion of 120 credits, with each institute charging its own pre-defined per-credit rate.
Please note that public schools would typically cost less than private nursing schools. In addition to that, tuition fees are usually lower for veterans and members of the US military. Financial aid options may also decrease the tuition cost.