The Institute of Medicine in 2010 called for 80 percent of registered nurses (RNs) to receive a Bachelor of Science (BSN) degree by the year 2020. As we continue to redesign healthcare in the United States, the need grows for a large population of educated nurses who can help address the growing medical challenges of the aging baby boomer demographic.
There are currently more than 700 online and campus-based RN-to-BSN programs in the U.S. These bridge programs are ideal for RNs with a bachelor’s degree in another field who want to jumpstart their careers and for RNs who hold an associate’s degree or a diploma in nursing who want to earn their BSN.
If you’ve been wondering about the requirements and benefits of this dynamic nursing program, we’ve got a quick Q&A to walk you through the basics.
What are the requirements for enrollment in an RN-to-BSN program?
Although each institution has its own specific requirements, in general, most require:
- Submission of a completed application for admission.
- Overall college cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 point scale.
- Graduation from an approved registered nurse (RN) program; or enrolled in a nursing program preparing to become a registered nurse, and on track to graduate.
- You must pass the NCLEX-RN exam and receive your nursing license in order to be admitted to a program.
How long is the program?
Most RN-to-BSN programs take about two years to complete and contain approximately 120 credit hours. RNs with an Associates Degree in Nursing or a nursing diploma are often able to transfer credits from their previous program to earn their bachelor’s degree in less time.
What will you learn?
Your RN-to-BSN curriculum will include common core courses such as writing, communications, and computing along with studies in math, liberal arts, and science. Major core studies deepen and broaden your knowledge and skill level, while preparing you for a successful career as a collaborative, professional health care leader and an effective, empowering manager.
Courses such as Nursing Leadership and Management; End of Life: Death, Dying and Bereavement; Cultural Influences on Health, Illness, and Health Care; and Population and Community Health Nursing provide you with cultural awareness, enable you to apply assessment findings at a higher level, and strengthen clinical reasoning, leadership, and interprofessional communication and collaboration skills.
In addition to coursework, your program will include hands-on learning components and practice experiences. These experiential activities can often be accomplished through a combination of carefully designed projects, and simulations. Some programs offer sessions in the clinical setting.
Where can you go with your degree?
Your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree will open professional doors that are closed to RNs with lower credentials. Many medical establishments require that candidates have a bachelor’s-level education in order to be considered for a nursing position, including the U.S. Armed Forces, Veterans Administration, and Public Health Service.
Nursing professionals with a BSN are eligible for managerial positions in medical facilities such as head nurse, department chief or clinical nurse manager. The degree also serves as foundation for graduate education which can then lead to a career as a nurse anesthetist or nurse practitioner.
Payscale reports that the median salary for an RN with a BSN who has been employed for at least five years is as much as $11,795 higher than the median salary for all RNs. Projected employment growth in the nursing field from 2014-2024 is 16 percent, which is much faster than average. This equates to an additional 439,300 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Enrolling in an RN-to-BSN Nursing program prepares students to provide evidence-based, quality care using 21st century nursing skills that meet the health care needs of a diverse and aging population. Students become qualified to practice in an increasingly complex health care system to improve the wellbeing of populations in local and global health care environments.