RN to BSN Programs, Schools and Certification details

RN to BSN Programs

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Registered nurses (RNs) with an eye toward advancement often find they need a bachelor's degree. The RN to BSN program allows registered nurses to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), thus opening doors to higher pay, better promotion opportunities and a more in-depth understanding of nursing theory and practice.

In addition, those who complete the BSN program are poised to move into master's degree programs, leading to potential new careers, such as that of nurse practitioner. Most RN to BSN schools offer flexible scheduling, which can allow working nurses to juggle their education along with a busy work schedule and family commitments.

RN to BSN Programs

Entry into RN to BSN bridge programs requires applicants to hold a valid registered nursing license, complete a variety of prerequisites and have a minimum grade point average in previous studies. Some RN to BSN schools might have further requirements; speak with an admissions counselor for a full overview of expectations.

Nurses who enroll in the BSN program can expect to see courses such as the following:

  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention -- understanding the impact of disease across a lifespan, preventative care, behaviors that contribute to medical issues and public health issues.
  • Values and Ethics -- the study of unsafe, unethical or illegal practices in healthcare, including case management studies on how to make the most ethical and professional decisions in difficult patient circumstances.
  • Theoretical Applications of Nursing Research -- the importance of nursing research, how to analyze data and reports, adhering to ethical standards during research, evaluating the nurse's role and more.
  • Nursing Leadership -- focuses on management skills, leadership roles, organization dynamics, communication strategies, quality improvement and providing excellent patient care in various environments.
  • Health Information Management Systems -- instruction on different systems and their design, databases, data quality, health care technology and electronic records management.
  • The Business of Health Care -- a deeper understanding of financial accounting as it relates to the health care system, including insurance, reimbursements, health care reform and more.
  • Nursing and Health Care Trends -- focuses on relationships between quality care and cost, regulatory effects on care, technology, information and other relevant issues in today's health care systems.

In some cases, general education courses might be required. This is especially true if an RN has not completed an associate degree or opted for an applied science associate degree. Some RN to BSN programs might also require a clinical component.

Certification and Licensure

Registered nurses must have a valid license in order to enter the RN to BSN program. Upon completion of the BSN program, a nurse might choose to earn various other certifications that can enhance skills, knowledge and earning potential.

Work Environment and Typical Responsibilities

Though nurses work in many different health care settings, including hospitals, home health care, clinics, private offices and more, those who have earned their bachelor's degree might find even more opportunities in the business side of health care. Registered nurses with a bachelor's degree can move into management or administrative roles, or into other areas of the health profession altogether, finding work with such entities as pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies or hospital administration.

In addition to the typical responsibilities of a registered nurse, if you choose to expand your horizons with a bachelor's degree you might find yourself working as a team leader for various units in a hospital or other health care setting, engaging in planning and development of treatments, working with marketing or consulting firms, or otherwise finding ways to branch out and use advanced knowledge.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

Registered nurses made a national mean annual salary of $67,930 in May 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov/oes, 2013). The job outlook for registered nurses is strong, with 26 percent job growth expected nationally from 2010 to 2020 (bls.gov/ooh, 2012).


Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Registered Nurses
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition: Registered Nurses
California State University, Sacramento: School of Nursing Admissions Requirements
Nova Southeastern University: RN to BSN Course Descriptions
Resurrection University: Curriculum and Course Descriptions: BSN for RNs

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