Although you may already be a practicing registered nurse, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing can be an important career investment. While you may be an RN with a diploma or associate degree, more nurses today are completing their BSN degree, which better prepares them for today’s healthcare challenges and opens doors to advanced degrees.
The growth in the number of BSN-prepared nurses began in the late 20th century. Between 1980 and 2008, the number of nurses holding a BSN increased from 22 to 36.8 percent. There has been a continued drive within the profession to increase that percentage further. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, over 22,000 nurses who held associate degrees or diplomas went on to graduate from a BSN program in 2010.
Holding a BSN degree can open doors
There are many reasons behind the desire to have more BSN-prepared nurses in healthcare. The 3.1 million nurses today are the most common providers of primary and long-term care to the nation’s patients. There are four times as many nurses as doctors in the U.S., and their roles continue to grow as nurses expand into services beyond traditional areas to include work in private practices, clinics, public health centers, nursing homes, companies and mental health agencies.
How a BSN helps better prepare you professionally
Diverse health needs require not just skilled nurses but also those who have a broader and deeper understanding of the complex issues affecting healthcare today. BSN-prepared nurses have the opportunity to gain knowledge in important areas such as public and community health, healthcare policy and disease prevention. They are also able to learn information technology, which is an important part of the current system. A BSN degree provides the chance to develop leadership skills that better prepare nurses to collaborate professionally with doctors and other healthcare workers.
You may have help completing an online RN to BSN program
With all this in mind, many hospitals and other institutions are encouraging RNs to go back to school. Tuition reimbursement programs and online RN to BSN programs are two ways that can help working RNs find the financial assistance and flexibility they need to go back to school while continuing to work. Online programs can provide students flexible opportunities to gain mentored knowledge and skills they can put into practice at work right away.
Although many skilled nurses in the past have entered the workforce with only an associate degree, BSN-prepared nurses have become the new standard in healthcare today. This standard reflects both an understanding of the complexities of current healthcare delivery and an appreciation of what an important role nurses play within that system as primary caregivers and professional leaders. Online education, combined with the push to ensure educational opportunities for working RNs, has opened up flexible and exciting opportunities for nurses to complete their BSN degrees while continuing to work.