A Guide to the Different BSN Program Options

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A Guide to the Different BSN Program Options
source: nightingale.edu

Nursing is a calling, rather than just a career, for many who decide to go down this path. Nurses are needed in every corner of the world to care for our fellow human beings during some of the toughest times of their lives. If you have ever paid a visit to the hospital, chances are that you remember being treated or supported by a nurse who made an impact on you. Nurses work in every aspect of healthcare from the ER to specialist departments, labor and delivery rooms, education systems, research, doctor’s offices, within the community and more. If you cannot imagine a career choice where you don’t get the option to help others and make a difference with the work that you do every day you get up and go to your workplace, then nursing might be an ideal choice for you.

Nursing school is no easy task, but it’s definitely worth the years of hard work that it requires to get into a career where you can feel rewarded every day. To become a registered nurse, it is recommended that you get a BSN. While an associate degree in nursing is enough in most states to get you started with a nursing career, there are many reasons why a BSN is a better choice. Firstly, more and more employers are actively looking to hire BSN-educated nurses, and a BSN will be a better foundation for getting into more advanced nursing careers in the future such as a nurse practitioner or a nurse educator. What’s even better is that these days, there are more ways available for you to get your BSN and qualify as a nurse. Whatever your situation, there are now more programs available to suit every type of student and help more people get into a rewarding and satisfying nursing career.

Table of Contents

Campus-Based BSN Programs

The first option to consider is the traditional campus-based nursing school BSN. If you want to get the full college experience while you are at nursing school including living in dorms and attending classes with your fellow students in-person, then this might be ideal for you. It will usually require you to commit full-time and there will be clinical placements involved that you’ll need to be available for if you want to pass the program. It’s important to bear this in mind as it can be one of the more expensive BSN options to consider, as most students will only be able to afford to work a few hours a week to support themselves. The good news is that there are lots of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options available to support students who want to take this route to get their BSN.

Online BSN Programs

If you are working full-time and are only going to be available to complete your clinical nursing placements, then an online BSN program might be an ideal choice for you. While it’s different to other online degree programs in that you can’t get the whole thing online as hands-on experience is essential to training to become a nurse, you can attend online classes and lectures instead of having to be present on the campus for them. This can make it much more flexible and less stressful for nursing students who need to work full-time to support themselves while studying or students who have families to look after. Another benefit of opting for an online BSN is that with less commuting and more resources available online, it can often be a cheaper option overall.

Accelerated BSN Programs

Not everybody who gets into nursing has always been sure that this is what they want for their future career. Many people go to college and get a degree in a completely different subject and even work in a different career field for some time before they decide that nursing is actually their calling in life. If this sounds like you, the good news is that you can still get a BSN if you already have a degree – and this can work in your advantage. The ABSN program from Elmhurst University Online is designed for previous college graduates who do not have a nursing qualification. It is an intensive program, so it’s worth considering that despite the fact many ABSN programs are available online, you will probably not have enough time to continue working full-time while you study. On the upside, if you can dedicate just two years of your life to the program, you can become a nurse in half the time that you’d expect if you went down the traditional route.

BSN Bridge Programs

Are you already a registered nurse? If you have an associate degree in nursing and have passed the NCLEX to gain a license to work as a nurse in your state, there are several reasons to consider going back to college and getting your BSN. If you work in New York State, you’ll be legally required to do this no more than ten years after becoming a registered nurse, so it’s best to do it sooner rather than later. With studies showing the differences between ADN and BSN educated nurses when it comes to patient health outcomes, it’s likely that in the future, more and more states will follow in the footsteps of New York when it comes to BSN requirement. Thankfully, if you are already a qualified and experienced registered nurse, you don’t have to spend four more years in college to get your BSN. Bridge programs are available to allow you to get your BSN faster by taking into account the knowledge and skills you already have, allowing you to update them. Many ADN-BSN bridge programs are available to study online, offering a more flexible option for full-time registered nurses who don’t want to take time out of work to get their BSN.

What are the Main Benefits of Getting a BSN For Nurses?

With the option to get into nursing with a shorter and cheaper associate degree, you might be wondering if there is much point to getting the BSN, which takes longer to complete and may cost you more overall. While there is more investment involved in getting a BSN, there are plenty of reasons why this investment is likely to pay off. Some of the main benefits of getting a BSN for nurses include:

More Employer Demand

Studies by nurse researchers have found that when just 10% more of the healthcare workforce has a BSN, patient care outcomes are improved quite dramatically. This has led to an increase in the demand for BSN-educated nurses in healthcare as employers want to make sure that their patients are receiving the best care. Many hospitals and other healthcare employers have the option to be rewarded with Magnet status for employing more BSN-educated nurses, which in turn has led many to put minimum hiring requirements in place. As a result, while it’s often quicker and cheaper to get an ADN, you may spend more time looking for work after graduation compared to getting a BSN. Statistics show that BSN graduates only spend an average of six months looking for employment after graduation before being hired for a permanent nursing role.

Improve Patient Care

Whether you are already a nurse or have dreams for a future career in nursing, chances are that offering patients the best standard of care is one of the main reasons why you chose this profession. Many nurses are passionate about looking after and supporting their patients and will do what it takes to make sure that they are in with the best chance of recovering from their injury or illness. As a nurse, getting a BSN is one of the best things that you can do for your future patients. Studies have found that BSN-educated nurses lead to much better outcomes for patients including better recovery times, a lower rate of diseases and infections contracted while in hospital, reduced patient fatalities, and lower hospital readmissions. A BSN is designed to prepare you for both preventative and primary patient care, putting you in a more powerful position as a nurse to improve patient outcomes with your work.

Better Career Prospects

If you want to get into nursing, then you’re entering a career with a huge variety of career progression and advancement opportunities. However, an associate degree in nursing might hold you back if you are an ambitious nurse who wants to move up the career ladder into advanced registered nursing roles or nurse management and leadership in the future. Whether you see yourself working as a family nurse practitioner or want to influence the next generation of nurses by working as a nurse educator, you will only be able to get there if you get a BSN as a registered nurse or at the beginning of your career. This is because these advanced nursing roles will usually require you to have a graduate nursing degree like an MSN, and most MSN programs require you to have a BSN before you will be able to enroll.

Better Salary

Along with it being easier to find employment with a BSN and having access to better career prospects for your future, getting your BSN can also help you get a better salary from the start. Nurses with a BSN are not only more likely to get employed faster, but they also typically earn higher entry level salaries. Compared to registered nurses who have an associate degree, statistics show that BSN-educated nurses typically enjoy higher earning potential. Along with this, it is often much easier for nurses who have a BSN to improve their earning potential by getting various certificates of education in specialty areas like trauma nursing or nurse midwifery, where a BSN will be required to get certified.

Employer Support

If you are a registered nurse right now and want to improve your career by getting a BSN, you’ll usually be able to count on your employer to support you. With lots of online BSN programs, ABSN programs and bridge programs available, coupled with the fact that there are clear benefits to employers who hire BSN-educated nurses, it’s no surprise that employers might not just support you but also actively encourage you to get your BSN. Many employers are offering tuition support for nurses who are interested in career improvement and want to get their BSN and further advanced qualifications in the future.

BSN Requirements

The truth is that in the future, it’s expected that the BSN is no longer going to just be an option for people who want to become a registered nurse. Like many other countries around the world such as the UK, a bachelor’s degree in nursing is likely to one day become the minimum requirement for registered nurses in most, if not all states. This is already the case in New York State, where registered nurses have ten years from the beginning of their career to earn a BSN if they do not already have this qualification, otherwise they risk being unable to work until they have gained the degree. This has already affected nurses who have been in the profession for several years, who’re currently out of work while they study to get a BSN. Getting a BSN from the start will help you avoid this situation if the same kind of regulation is put in place in your state.

Range of BSN Options

Finally, there has never been a better time than right now to get a BSN. With online, hybrid, accelerated, and traditional programs available to choose from, getting a BSN that suits you has never been easier. Nursing schools are offering an increased number of flexible BSN programs to suit every kind of students as the healthcare industry wants to encourage more people to get into nursing and reduce the shortage.

If you feel called to a career in nursing, getting a BSN is the best option for getting your career started. Today, there are various different options for getting your BSN with something for every kind of student.

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