How Can I Become a BSN?

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If you've heard anything about RN-to-BSN programs, you probably know that there is a ton of information out there. Before diving into the ocean of possibilities and getting completely overwhelmed, read through this overview. The answers to these 7 common questions will give you the basic information you need to make informed decisions as you continue your research.

1. Who is eligible for RN-to-BSN programs?

RN-to-BSN programs were developed for registered nurses who hold a diploma or an associate's degree in nursing. The BSN degree prepares nurses to practice with higher autonomy and to pursue more challenging career options. A BSN degree is also a pre-requisite to apply to more advanced nursing degree programs, such as an MSN or PhD.

2. Do I really need a BSN to practice nursing?

Is nursing just a way to pay the bills for you? Do you see yourself doing something else in a few years? If so, a BSN degree is probably not worth the time and effort for you. On the other hand, are you envisioning nursing as a long-term career? Do you plan to apply for better-paying jobs with more demanding responsibilities? If this sounds more like you, than yes, you do need a BSN. An RN without a BSN degree will generally hit a ceiling at some point in his or her career. A BSN degree is an important first step for nurses who are serious about their careers.

3. What is the coursework like?

RN-to-BSN programs can be quite diverse in the types of classes they offer, so your best bet is to compare the required courses from a few different nursing schools. Most RN to BSN programs require foundational and advanced coursework in nursing science, liberal arts and behavioral sciences. Online RN to BSN programs that include a clinical component will offer guidance so that you can seamlessly integrate your theoretical knowledge into practical skills at a healthcare facility near you.

4. When can I start?

Online RN-to-BSN programs are designed to meet the needs of working nurses, so flexibility and convenience are top on the list of benefits. Online nursing schools offer multiple start dates each year for RN-to-BSN programs. Simply request information from several online schools with RN-BSN completion programs that interest you in order to compare programs and find out the available start dates. Unlike nursing programs at traditional universities, online programs have no waiting lists.

5. How long it may take to pursue my BSN degree?

A traditional BSN degree take a minimum of four years to earn on campus, and most campus-based RN to BSN programs are at least two years long, but online RN-to-BSN programs are accelerated and enable working RN's to earn their BSN degree in as little as 12 months while studying at their own pace. Online RN-to-BSN programs are extremely flexible in this regard and offer many options.

6. How much can I expect to earn?

As a registered nurse with a BSN, you can expect to earn more money in the long term than if you only had an associate's degree or a diploma. You will qualify for higher-paid jobs, as well as for further educational degrees such as an MSN or PhD, which in turn lead to better financial compensation. Some hospitals use a clinical ladder program, which rewards nurses with a BSN by paying them a certain dollar amount more per hour in addition to their base pay. Because a BSN degree opens the door to such a wide variety of nursing specialties, it would be misleading to quote an exact salary raise--it really depends on your specific career goals and local opportunities. However, you will certainly be eligible for higher paying positions as a nurse with a BSN.

7. How may a BSN degree improve my nursing career?

The BSN degree provides the educational preparation for nurses to practice with more independence in diverse settings, both within hospitals, and beyond. A BSN degree enables nurses to pursue more challenging careers in healthcare, obtain professional certification in nursing specialty fields, expands career options and job opportunities. Nurses with an BSN degree can practice at a higher level, with greater autonomy and responsibility. Additionally, a BSN degree is also the foundation for future nursing education such as Nursing Masters degree programs (M.S. in Nursing), and Nurse Practitioner programs.

Now that you have a good grasp of the basics, you can start to compare RN-to-BSN programs at various organizations. Simply request information, and you're one step closer to attaining your BSN degree!

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