A Guide to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree can open many doors in the nursing field. Some employers will not accept applicants with less than a BSN degree.
In fact, registered nurses (RNs) with BSNs receive higher salaries, management positions, and a wider variety of jobs. If you’re considering a BSN but need more information, then continue reading!
Let’s start with the basics.
What is a BSN Degree?
If you’re already searching for registered nursing programs or RN-to-BSN programs, you may already understand the value of a BSN degree.
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is an academic degree in the science and principles of nursing. It’s granted by an accredited education provider and can lead to a rewarding career as a Registered Nurse.
Frequently Asked Questions on BSN
1. Is a BSN higher than an RN?
All BSN holders must be RNs, but not all RNs have a BSN degree. To become a registered nurse (RN), you must typically earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
While an ADN degree takes about two years of study, a BSN degree usually requires three or four years. This is because a BSN qualifies you to advance your career, seek higher positions, and provide more complex healthcare services.
2. How long does it take to get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing?
It depends on the school and the location, but you can typically obtain a BSN degree in three or four years. If you are already a registered nurse or licensed vocational nurse (LVN), then it might take significantly less time.
3. What courses are required for a BSN?
The required coursework and curriculum for a BSN depends on the school and individual program in which you enroll. To give you a better idea, below are some of the BSN courses administered by Unitek College:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Lifespan Development
- Fundamentals of Patient Care
- Mental Health Nursing
- Maternal/Newborn Nursing
- Pediatric Nursing
4. Do BSN graduates have to get certified?
Yes. A pre-licensure BSN degree should prepare students for the NCLEX-RN license exam in order to become licensed registered nurses.
5. What are the licensing or certification requirements for BSN graduates?
At Unitek College, BSN students must achieve the following credentials:
- Complete the BSN program with a cumulative score of at least 75%
- File a completed application with the necessary fee
- Receive final approval from the Board of Registered Nursing to sit for the NCLEX-RN
- Clear Live Scan© background check, including Department of Justice and FBI clearance
The Advantages of a BSN Degree
1. Greater Salaries
In general, BSN-trained nurses receive higher salaries than RNs (with associate degrees). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of an RN was $75,330 in 2020. Alternatively, NursingProcess.org has stated that the average salary for BSN-trained nurses was $84,250.
2. Wider Range of Nursing Careers
A BSN degree is essential to enrolling in graduate-nursing programs. Some of the highest paying nursing jobs, like nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, and clinical nurse specialist, require a BSN degree. Additionally, a BSN degree is often required for nursing administration or teaching positions.
3. Learn More Than Clinical Skills
If you earn a BSN, you will acquire skills beyond the basics of clinical care. BSN curriculums also focus on communication, critical thinking, and leadership skills.
Knowledge in each of these areas can help you gain higher-paying jobs with added responsibilities. The AACN also recognizes the BSN degree as an educational requirement for professional nursing practice.
4. Provide Better Patient Care
While this isn’t always the case, generally speaking, RNs equipped with a BSN degree will likely provide better patient care. Nurse Journal explains with the following: “The AACN has collected extensive research that indicates that higher nursing education makes a major difference in clinical outcomes. Nurses with a BSN have better patient outcomes, including lower mortality rates and lower failure-to-rescue rates as well. The research also indicates that BSN holders have higher proficiency in making good diagnoses.”
5. Greater Odds of Employment at Hospitals
The American Nurses Association (ANA) awards certain nurses a “magnet” designation. This status is highly sought-after by hospitals, and one of the requirements of the designation is the education level of the nursing staff.
According to Nurse Journal, the “ANA requires that 75% of nurse managers have a BSN as of Jan. 1, 2011, and 100% had to have a BSN by Jan. 1, 2013.”
6. More Opportunities for Professional Advancement
Earning a BSN degree can open your career to intriguing specialties in areas like pediatrics, gynecology, surgery, oncology, diabetes, psychiatry, etc. Registered nurses with a BSN degree have limitless career advancement opportunities.
In an increasingly competitive industry like healthcare, a BSN degree can only boost your chances of landing your dream job.
7. A BSN Degree Can Give You More Control
A BSN degree will provide you with more freedom to work where and how you would prefer. Many nurses choose to pursue a BSN because it affords them the opportunity to specialize. Teaching and research opportunities are often given to those who have gained extra training and experience through a BSN degree.
8. Higher Education May Be a Requirement in the Future
Another benefit of obtaining your BSN degree now is that doing so may actually become a requirement in the future. Nurse Journal elaborates on this potential prerequisite: “The Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a study on the nursing profession. It recommended that BSN holders be increased from 50% to 80% by 2020. Nurses are strongly encouraged to get their BSN within five years of earning a diploma or an associate’s degree.
The AACN is following the recommendations of the IOM and is also making the same recommendation. As these large, respected medical institutions make these recommendations, employers in the healthcare field tend to follow them as well. This means that many healthcare employers could require that their nurses earn their BSN by 2020.”
How to Pick the Right BSN Program for You
Once you’ve made the decision to pursue a BSN degree, the next step is to find the best program for you. There are several considerations, such as the length of the program, its location, and the curriculum.
Along with contacting an admissions representative, you might want to look at a program’s primary objectives. These will likely offer insight into the school and help you make an informed decision.
Example: BSN Program Primary Objective
To illustrate the importance of a BSN program’s primary objective, below is an example of one from Unitek College:
In addition to receiving a BSN degree, graduates of Unitek’s program will…
- Utilize a body of knowledge from nursing, medical, biological, physical, and behavioral sciences in planning to meet the health needs of individuals.
- Utilize the nursing process to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate the individualized care for a client experiencing acute or chronic health problems including but not limited to the following:
- Assess clients and identify actual or potential health problems.
- Formulate a nursing diagnosis reflecting assessment findings.
- Determine appropriate and realistic goals (i.e., possible outcomes, timelines, etc.)
- Select, plan, and implement nursing interventions.
- Provide information and support to restore, rehabilitate or maintain client health.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, communication, and teaching in achieving goals and revising plans of care as indicated by assessments.
- Perform as a member/manager of the interdisciplinary healthcare team, understanding the roles and responsibilities of self and other health workers.
- Apply strong critical thinking/problem-solving competencies in crisis
- Adhere to ethical, legal, regulatory, and professional standards for nursing
- Utilize insight, intuition, and empirical knowledge in a commitment to nursing actions.
- Apply evidence-based knowledge from nursing and related disciplines to shape practice. Provide nursing care that reflects sensitivity to the physical, social, cultural, spiritual, and environmental diversity of persons.
- Apply management, delegation, and supervision strategies in planning, implementing, and evaluating nursing care.
- Demonstrate professional nursing standards, values, and accountability.
BSN Courses & Curriculum
When selecting a BSN program, it’s important to look at the available nursing courses for each school. Not only will it give you a better idea of what you’d be studying, but it will also provide you with some insight into the nursing field.
What Courses Are Required for a BSN Degree?
These course descriptions are for some of the BSN classes offered at Unitek College. To read them all, check out the school catalog here.
+ Anatomy and Physiology: This is the first of a four-course sequence in which human anatomy and physiology are studied using a body systems approach.
+ Lifespan Development: The course explores human development across the lifespan in the context of a general introduction to psychology and the social sciences.
+ Microbiology: This particular course covers the basic concepts of microbiology, with an emphasis on medically important microorganisms and infectious diseases.
+ Pharmacology: Not only does this course provide students with an introduction to the basic principles of pharmacology, but it also delves into principles and guidelines for drug administration.
+ Fundamentals of Patient Care: Throughout this course, students will be introduced to the principles of health promotion as well as the rehabilitative aspects of patient care.
+ Mental Health Nursing: The course provides the theoretical knowledge and skills necessary for the care of psychiatric patients in acute and long-term care facilities.
+ Maternal/Newborn Nursing: This course equips students with theoretical instruction and clinical application on care of the woman during pregnancy as well as care of the newborn.
+ Pediatric Nursing: Family-centered care of children is the focus of this course. It explores issues of normal childcare as well as health alterations of children from infancy through adolescence.
A BSN Degree Is the Key to Your Future
The healthcare industry is always changing and evolving, which requires nurses to continue obtaining higher levels of training and education.
Practicing nurses who have earned an associate degree can recognize the advantages of continuing their education, which might include a higher salary, increased responsibility, and the opportunity to teach, and supervise entry-level nurses.
In general, nursing is a field that will give you many chances to continue evolving and honing your skills. A BSN degree can put you on a path to reaching your professional and personal milestones. Most importantly, it will allow you to better serve the patients you treat.