10 Reasons Why RNs Should Pursue their BSN Degree

Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
Updated May 15, 2024
Edited by
    Considering an RN-to-BSN program? Here are the 10 best reasons for RNs to earn their BSN.
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    Picture of a smiling Asian-American nurse standing in a hospital waiting room. She has black hair pulled back into a ponytail, and is wearing dark blue scrubs. She is carrying a patient file in her right arm.Credit: The Good Brigade / DigitalVision / Getty Images

    Did you know that over 70% of nurses have a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)? In fact, most entry-level nurses hold a BSN, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

    A BSN can lead to more job opportunities, greater autonomy, and a higher earning potential. It also prepares nurses for career advancement and improves patient outcomes.

    It’s easier than ever for RNs to get their BSN, thanks to RN-to-BSN training programs. Here are the 10 best reasons you should consider earning a BSN.

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    Reasons to Pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree

    Busy nurses might feel like they don’t have the time or money to pursue a BSN degree. But there are many good reasons to invest in an RN-to-BSN program, from higher earning potential to improved patient outcomes.

    1 | Higher Salaries

    A BSN can boost your earning potential. BSN-prepared nurses earn nearly $20,000 more than ADN-prepared nurses in average annual salary. According to Mar. 2024 Payscale data, nurses with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) reported an average annual salary of $77,000. In comparison, BSN-trained nurses earned $94,000 for that same timeframe, according to Payscale data.

    Why do BSN nurses earn more? Because of their higher level of education, nurses with a BSN can take on more advanced roles, including nurse leads or specialists.

    2 | Higher Employment Rates

    Many employers prefer to hire nurses with a BSN. Today, 70% of employers report a strong preference for BSN nurses, according to the 2023 New Graduate Employment Data from the AACN. Further, 25% of hospitals currently require that all new nursing hires hold a BSN.

    That translates into strong employment numbers. The 2023 AACN report found that 84% of BSN graduates had received a job offer at graduation, with 96% landing a job within 4-6 months of graduation. By comparison, people who get a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than nursing reported a 55% full-time employment rate within six months of graduation.

    3 | More Comprehensive Education

    While a two-year ADN program can prepare you for licensure as an RN, a four-year BSN provides a more comprehensive education. You’ll explore topics such as health promotion, advanced health assessment, nursing leadership, and clinical practice.

    Many RN-to-BSN programs — accelerated versions of which can take as little as one year to complete — also incorporate coursework in community health nursing, health education, and behavioral health nursing. These courses add valuable knowledge and skills to your nursing skill set, preparing you for advanced roles in healthcare settings or continued nursing education.

    4 | Increased Nursing Practice-Area Opportunities

    Nurses specialize in many areas. There is a high demand for trauma nurses and travel nurses, both of which appear on the NurseJournal ranking of the best nursing specialties.

    Pursuing a BSN degree can help you move into specialized practice areas, including pediatrics, cardiology, oncology, and critical care.

    5 | Graduate School Preparation

    Many of the highest-paying nursing careers require a graduate degree. For example, master of science in nursing (MSN) degree holders report an average pay of $104,000, according to Payscale data from Feb. 2024. In comparison, BSN holders report an average pay of $94,000 — $10,000 less than MSN holders.

    MSN programs tend to require a BSN as part of their admission requirements, however RN-to-MSN programs require an RN license.

    6 | Improved Patient Outcomes

    When nurses increase their education level, everyone benefits. According to the AACN, BSN-prepared nurses have critical thinking and leadership abilities that translate to improved patient care and outcomes. For example, a 2022 study on post-surgery patient care found that a higher proportion of BSN-prepared nurses translated to a lower risk of harm. According to a 2019 study, hospitals that increased their BSN-trained nursing workforce by 10% saw a 24% greater survival rate for patients who experienced in-hospital cardiac arrest.

    7 | Increased Autonomy

    Employers trust BSN-prepared nurses to take on greater responsibilities. For example, the country’s Magnet hospitals now require that all nurse managers and nurse leaders hold a BSN as a minimum educational requirement.

    Similarly, BSN nurses typically have more autonomy in nursing practice. This allows them to make more patient care decisions and hold leadership roles. During a BSN, nursing students take courses on role development, nursing leadership, and nursing practice to strengthen their clinical decision-making skills.

    8 | Career Advancement

    ADN nurses can provide effective bedside care. But with a BSN, nurses can climb the ladder in their organization. For example, the American Nurses Association (ANA) recommends that ADN nurses who want to move into leadership roles advance their education with a bachelor’s degree.

    9 | Earning a BSN May Become Mandatory

    In 2017, New York State passed a law requiring RNs to hold a bachelor’s degree within 10 years of licensure. With more workplaces preferring or requiring a BSN, other states may follow New York’s lead, making a BSN a requirement for a growing number of practicing nurses.

    According to AACN’s 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey, nearly 72% of RNs already hold a BSN or higher, and most nurses enter the workforce with a BSN or higher. This indicates that a BSN is increasingly seen as an entry-level degree for nurses.

    10 | It’s Easy to Get Started

    The good news for RNs is that it’s easier than ever to earn a BSN. Many top-ranked nursing schools offer online RN-to-BSN programs, which can take as little as 12 months. You may also be able to complete clinical requirements in your current workplace. Many employers also offer tuition reimbursement to help advance your nursing career.

    Nurses advancing their education may also qualify for nursing scholarships and grants, which can help cover costs.

    Why RNs Should Pursue the BSN: Frequently Asked Questions

    Earning a BSN gives nurses more career options and increases their earning potential. With a BSN, nurses can qualify for specialized or leadership roles. A BSN also prepares nurses for grad school.

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