Despite a nationwide initiative to ensure 80% of the nursing workforce obtains a bachelor’s degree by 2020, progress toward the goal has been slow. Even by 2025, just 66% of RNs will reach this level of education, says the journal Nursing Outlook.
Encouraging enrollment in Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) online programs can quickly boost the number of BSN-prepared nurses. The programs, often conducted online and completed in as few as 10 months, create a streamlined and accessible pathway for working nurses to advance their knowledge and enjoy the degree’s many benefits. Here are five ways earning a BSN will boost your career:
1. Growing Employer Demand
A BSN is the degree of choice for most employers, both in the private and public sectors. Forty-one percent of hospitals and other healthcare employers now require new hires to have a bachelor’s degree, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Plus, 82% of employers express a strong preference for BSN graduates. In addition, the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force and the U.S. Public Health Service expect officers and active-duty RNs to hold baccalaureate degrees. The nation’s largest employer of registered nurses, the Veteran’s Administration, requires nurses to hold a bachelor’s degree to be eligible for promotions.
2. Greater Lifetime Earning Potential
Compared to an associate degree or diploma program, nurses who obtain a BSN benefit from greater lifetime earning potential. For example, a BSN-prepared nurse makes an average base salary of $87K annually according to PayScale (August 2021), while nurses with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) earn an average annual base salary of $71K. If you consider the possibility of more lucrative sign-on bonuses for nurses with a preferred degree, the difference in earning potential is substantial.
3. Solid Foundation for Future Degrees and Certifications
A BSN offers significant career flexibility and can assist those who want to advance or transition into other roles, including non-bedside care. It also provides a solid foundation for additional degrees, like a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). A BSN is an increasingly prevalent prerequisite for a growing number of nursing specialties and certifications. Career pathways generally reserved for those with a BSN include:
- Nurse informaticist
- Public health/community nurse
- Hospice nurse
- Charge nurse
- Labor and delivery nurse
- Wound care nurse
- Psychiatric nurse
- Nursing case manager
4. Leadership and Travel Opportunities
Nurses interested in leadership opportunities must typically have a bachelor’s degree. Magnet hospitals, known for their superior quality care standards and outcomes, require all nurse managers and nurse leaders to hold a BSN or higher degree.
BSN-prepared nurses are also well positioned to pursue travel nursing, given employer preference for the degree. Travel nursing opportunities have risen substantially as many states battle nursing shortages amid the pandemic — a pattern that will likely continue as older nurses reach retirement age. As reported by the site Fierce Healthcare, the demand for traveling ICU nurses rose 305% in 2020, with an average weekly pay of $2,355 in November 2020 compared to $1,577 at the beginning of the year.
5. Enhanced Patient Care Strategies and Improved Outcomes
According to AACN, “a significant body of research shows that nurses with baccalaureate level preparation are linked to better patient outcomes, including lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates.” The BSN curriculum expands on nursing theory, safeguards and decision-making support tools that foster a safer practice environment. BSN graduates develop collaborative care skills based on a holistic, patient-centered approach, which ultimately improves the overall delivery of care and patient outcomes.
A BSN is an investment that offers both immediate and long-term benefits. BSN-prepared nurses are in demand, have abundant educational and career advancement opportunities, earn more than their associate degree counterparts and provide quality patient care.
Learn more about Radford University’s RN to BSN online program.