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As an aspiring nurse professional, you are committed to serving a critical role in the medical system. From providing care and treating patients, to leading teams and forming public healthcare policy, your responsibilities can vary significantly depending on your intended career path. In any case, it all begins with the type of degree you choose to pursue.
The general consensus today is that a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) opens up the widest range of opportunities, and is therefore worth considering. Students who have acquired the degree tend to find themselves eligible for more job openings and higher salaries from the start.
In addition, they gain the opportunity to further improve their skills and qualifications with a graduate program. If you’re interested in learning more about BSN courses and what they entail, read on to find out what you need to know about the Bachelor of Nursing degree.
What BSN Programs Involve
The BSN typically comprises four years of study and is one of two programs available to nurses at this level, with an ADN (Associates Degree in Nursing) being the other. Unlike the latter, a BSN is split into two years of general education and prerequisite courses, followed by two years of practical study with clinical rotations and nursing classes.
Now more than ever, the BSN is important as it’s becoming increasingly common for healthcare facilities to specify BSN degrees as a requirement for hiring registered nurses, even in entry-level openings.
While an ADN is the shortest route to becoming a registered nurse, the two-year course misses much of the education and clinical training that a BSN provides. It’s this course content that enables the BSN to give you far more opportunities to practice in specialty areas and move towards managerial and supervisory positions.
Also, the BSN is necessary for pursuing advanced nursing degrees such as the Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice, as well as the Clinical Nurse Specialist qualification. While some BSN courses may vary in their content, accredited programs follow the American Association of Colleges for Nursing’s framework, which includes:
- Assessment of Health and Illness
- Pharmacology and Pathophysiology
- Research in Nursing
- Mental and Reproductive Health
- Community Health Nursing
- Leadership and Management
You will also clock numerous clinical training hours to build your practical skills. Keep in mind that you can also opt for an accelerated BSN course, which is not only faster, but also taken primarily online, with a brief campus visit and clinicals in the field. Check out the accelerated BSN programs at Baylor University to learn more.
How Much BSN Programs Cost
The total outlay for a BSN degree depends on several factors; for example, the location of your institute and whether you go to a private university or state college, and whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state learner.
That said, averages for BSN programs are between $70,000 and $105,000 for tuition. Remember that this excludes your spend on books, housing, food and other fees. Of course, studying online will prove to be far more affordable. You may also save by applying for government grants or seeking another form of financial aid. For instance, there is the:
- National CPR foundation scholarships for healthcare students who write an essay
- Caroline E. Holt Nursing Scholarship given to three nursing students each year
- Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship for nursing students with academic achievements
- National Student Nurses Association Foundation scholarship for participants in community health activities
- Jane Delano Student Nurse Scholarship for select Red Cross volunteers who write an essay
While the cost of studying is certainly an important factor, it’s good to know that your investment will pay off in the long run, as having a BSN degree is bound to increase your earnings when you enter the work world.
Benefits of a BSN Degree
By now, you should already have an idea of some advantages of having a Bachelor of Science in Nursing qualification. In addition to the many rewarding aspects of nursing careers in general, which include gratitude expressed by patients and pride in being a nurse, having a BSN degree offers the following benefits:
Your qualification naturally has a direct impact on your salary level. If you already work as a registered nurse, compare what you currently earn to what you could earn as a BSN degree holder. According to PayScale, the average base salary for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is $87,000 per year, with some earning far more.
As we touched on earlier, you’ll have a greater number of opportunities available to you with a BSN qualification. You will be able to select from a variety of practice areas and specializations, from pediatrics to oncology to geriatrics and beyond. This comes over and above the management positions that are suitable for natural leaders.
At the same time, your likelihood of being considered for these positions will be higher and you won’t have to spend as many years gaining experience to be eligible for promotions. Don’t forget that the same applies to your opportunities for further education.
BSN Career Outlook
It’s reassuring to know that the demand for nurses is already high and will only continue to grow as unfilled positions increase. More than 500,000 new registered nurse positions are expected in the next five years, and an additional half a million will be created in the same period by nurses who leave the field.
This is due in part to the ageing population, who will require more professional care as longevity increases and chronic health problems continue to proliferate. For the BSN in particular, the degree is expected to grow in demand by 19% compared to the 11% standard for other occupations, further solidifying the value of the qualification.
This guide highlights just some of the reasons why pursuing a BSN degree is a good idea. For example, don’t forget that you will also be able to enter a range of fields, from hospitals to schools to pharmacies to offices and beyond. So, what are you waiting for?