Why Registered Nurses Should Enroll in A Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program

Today, nursing is one of the most rapidly growing and dynamic professions. A degree in nursing offers individuals job opportunities at many different levels. Data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that employment within the nursing profession is going to see substantial growth between 2012 and 2022. The growth rate predicted can be attributable to a number of different factors that include a current shortage of nurses, a large aging population, and a greater demand for health care services. Nursing is a profession which focuses on promoting the wellbeing of others, helping patients to cope with illnesses and diseases, and providing direct patient care under the supervision of physicians. It can be a demanding job and requires a tremendous amount of determination.

When most people think of a ‘nurse’, the image that typically comes to mind is that of a registered nurse. Registered nurses are professionals who have traditionally completed a diploma or associates degree in nursing and who have subsequently passed the nursing licensure examination for registered nurses. For more in depth training however, candidates must work towards a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) was not always regarded as the entry level qualification for RNs. Today, however, more and more employers require registered nurses to have at least a BSN to qualify for certain nursing positions. The nonprofit Institute of Medicine in 2010 unveiled its initiative which recommends that 80% of the nursing workforce should have a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree by 2020. A survey carried out in 2013 by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) found that more than 40% of healthcare employers now require new nurses to have at least a BSN. The AACN also considers a BSN to be the “minimum educational requirement for professional nursing practice.”

When considering a BSN, several factors are often cited in calling for nurses to have higher levels of education. These include:

  • The evolving healthcare system
  • A large aging population
  • The rising number of patients with chronic conditions
  • More nurses assuming leadership roles
  • The need for a more educated nursing workforce
  • The ongoing commitment to providing better patient care

What are the arguments in favor of pursing a BSN?

  1. More opportunities

It goes without saying that with a four year undergraduate degree, candidates may be eligible for more employment opportunities. As opposed to an associate’s degree, a BSN confers more in depth academic and clinical training to aspiring nurses. This is a very important factor that employers take under consideration when hiring.

  1. Potential for larger salary

According to data compiled by BLS, in 2012 the annual median wage for registered nurses was $65,470. The top 10 percent earned more than $94,720. In order to be in the top ten, an RN would need to have a BSN because BSN holders are the ones that get top tier jobs.

  1. More in depth knowledge

Numerous studies have also found that nurses with a BSN have:

  • stronger communication and problem solving skills
  • A higher proficiency in their ability to make diagnoses and evaluate nursing interventions
  • A better ability to adapt  
  • Due to the stronger scientific curriculum of a BSN, nurses have a solid foundation in basic sciences
  • Knowledge of social, behavioral and management sciences
  • Better equipped to analyze and communicate data
  • A solid base for nurses to pursue graduate education and seek out advanced nursing positions.
  • Education does make a difference in clinical practice

According to data compiled by The American Association of the Colleges of Nursing (AACN) the level of education possessed by nurses had a direct effect on the quality of clinical practice. Nurses who have a BSN produce better results. These include, for instance, lower mortality rates and lower failure-to-rescue rates. They are also more proficient in making diagnoses. BSN holders can also communicate better with other professionals; a very important quality because nurses often work in teams with other nursing professionals and physicians. They are also highly capable of carrying out research effectively and have strong evaluation skills.

  1. Employment in Magnet Hospitals

Many hospitals now seek magnet designation and require nurses to have a higher education.The nation’s Magnet hospitals are those which are recognized for providing high quality medical care. This award is given by the American Nurses' Credentialing Center (ANCC), an affiliate of the American Nurses Association, when the hospital satisfies a certain set of criteria with respect to its nursing staff. It is a highly coveted award and has only been given to about 400 hospitals to date. One of the conditions which absolutely must be satisfied is that 75% of nurse managers possess a BSN as of January 1, 2011, and 100% have a BSN by January 1, 2013. In addition, over 48% of the nursing staff need to have a BSN qualification or higher.

  1. It is easy to obtain a BSN

Over the past few years, there has been a surge in the number of BSN programs offered. For individuals who are already RNs, there exists a number of RN to BSN bridge programs which allow individuals to bridge the gap in their learning. Many of these programs are offered online. This is very beneficial for those individuals who are currently working full time or have family commitments. Online programs also allow you the flexibility to pursue a degree according to your time schedule.

  1. Opportunities for Career advancement

There are many positions and organizations that strive to provide the best patient care and standards. They therefore require their employees to hold a BSN. Examples of such organizations include:

  • US Army
  • US Navy 
  • US Air Force 
  • Commissioned officers within the US Public Health Service
  • The Veteran's Administration (VA) – This is the nation's largest employer of registered nurses. It has established BSN as the minimum requirement its nursing staff must have for promotion beyond entry-level.
  • More and more countries are requiring higher education

There are many countries around the world striving to create a more highly educated nursing workforce. Some of the countries who now require a four-year undergraduate BSN from applicants are mentioned below:

  • Canada
  • Sweden
  • Portugal
  • Brazil
  • Iceland
  • Korea
  • Greece
  • the Philippines
  1. Public confidence

Many patients feel better knowing that their health is in the hands of a highly educated and competent individual. This is supported by a nationwide Harris Poll which was conducted in June 1999. The results showed that an overwhelming percentage of the public – 76% – believed that nursing professionals should have four years of education or more to perform their duties. 

  1. BSN may become a future requirement for RN’s

The Institute of Medicine has recommended that the number of BSN holders increase from 50% to 80% by 2020. Furthermore, the American Nurses Association recognizes BSN as the entry level qualification for RNs.
When highly respected medical institutes make these recommendation and requirements, it is often the case that employers follow their lead. For this reason, it may be very likely that by 2020, most employers will require their nursing staff to hold a BSN.

  1. Opens doors to graduate degrees and advanced nursing positions

Holders of a BSN can apply directly for graduate programs and improve their credentials. To gain a specialization in a particular branch of nursing, candidates must undertake a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN). To be eligible, MSN candidates must hold a BSN degree.
Data from BLS shows that nurses with specializations have relatively higher salaries and their occupations are expected to see more job growth:


Job Growth till 2022

Annual Median Wage

Nurse Anesthetists
Nurse Practitioner
Nurse Midwives

An MSN also enables nurses to apply for positions such as nurse educators or managers. It is also an essential degree for those individuals who want to pursue a doctorate level degree.

To deal with the increasing demands of an evolving healthcare system, many professional bodies and employers are requiring candidates to hold a BSN in order to qualify as an RN. There are numerous arguments in favor of gaining a BSN. Some of these include increased job opportunities and prospects, a higher salary, and more in depth training and knowledge. Furthermore, it is recommended that 80% of RNs hold a BSN by 2020. This is indicative of a shift in requirements within the healthcare industry. It is therefore very likely that with time, the majority of employers will require applicants to have a BSN in order to work as RNs.


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