- 1. More Comprehensive Preparation
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), bachelor’s-level nurses gain abilities beyond basic nursing skills, such as case management, critical thinking, health promotion, and leadership. While nurses can earn their RN licenses with ADN or diplomas in the field, BSN programs include ADN coursework, along with community and public health, humanities, and research.
The BSN curriculum creates well-rounded and informed professionals who understand the connections between healthcare and issues within the broader society.
- 2. Healthcare’s Shift to Primary and Preventative Care
Nursing has decreased its focus on inpatient care in favor of a patient-centered system of primary and preventative care. Rather than a duplicative and fragmented array of doctor visits, hospitalizations, procedures, and tests to treat patients, primary and preventative care focuses on integrative care and collaborative practice models.
BSN-level RNs receive the training to join multidisciplinary teams and educate patients about regular screenings, maintaining healthy lifestyles, and following care plans.
- 3. Increased Nursing Practice-Area Opportunities
BSN degree-holders have the knowledge and training to practice in several settings, including home-based services, residential facilities, and specialty clinics. Bachelor’s-level nurses find employment in administration, clinical nursing, leadership, management, and nursing education.
ADN and diploma training cover core competencies of nursing, but the BSN curriculum includes nursing informatics, nursing theory, and health policy, along with more extensive clinical experiences. BSN degree-holders become better-prepared RNs for specialized roles in adult-gerontology, neonatal, oncology, pediatric, and psychiatric-mental health specialties.
- 4. Higher Employment Rates
A 2020 AACN survey found that 94% of BSN graduates secured employment 4-6 months after finishing their programs. In addition, 82.4% of employers strongly prefer BSN-prepared nurses, and 41% of hospitals and healthcare facilities require BSNs.
The AACN cites a 2019 New York University study indicating that RNs with BSNs are significantly more prepared than those with ADNs in 12 out of 16 quality and safety areas, including data analysis, evidence-based practice, and project implementation.
- 5. Career Advancement
In 2017, New York passed legislation making it the first state to require new nurses to obtain a BSN within 10 years of their initial licensure. Known as “BSN in 10,” the law aims to improve patient outcomes across the board. Studies show that each 10% increase in BSN-prepared nurses leads to a 5% decline in risk-adjusted patient mortality. As more states consider adopting similar laws, current RNs with BSNs will experience career advantages.
- 6. Graduate School Preparation
The shifting emphasis on primary and preventative care, along with the fact that RNs outnumber physicians by a 3-to-1 ratio, indicate that nurses will continue to function as primary care providers. Graduate nursing education at the master’s and doctoral levels prepare specialty-focused advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) — the next step for BSN-level RNs.
The advantages to becoming an APRN include significant increases in salary and employment opportunities. Most graduate programs require applicants to hold BSNs.
- 7. Lower Incidence of Patients With Pressure Ulcers
The AACN cites a 2013 study of 21 University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) hospitals that analyzed the connection between patient outcomes and RN education levels. The study revealed that hospitals employing a higher percentage of BSN-level RNs saw fewer patients develop decubitus ulcers.
Decubitus ulcers — also called pressure ulcers or bedsores — are painful wounds that result when caregivers fail to change patients’ positions every couple of hours and keep patients’ skin clean and dry.
- 8. Lower Incidence of Patients With Post-Operative Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) manifests as blood clots primarily located in patients’ legs. Loose clots that enter the bloodstream can cause serious conditions, such as pulmonary embolism. Post-operative DVT can happen to patients experiencing long recoveries during which they fail to walk around or exercise their legs while in bed.
The UHC study found that hospitals with a higher percentage of RNs with BSNs counted fewer patients with postoperative DVT, due to better movement care and shorter hospital stays.
- 9. Lower Incidence of Patients With Hospital-Acquired Infections
Research cited by the Robert Wood Foundation supports the association between a higher number of BSN-prepared RNs and fewer patients who acquire infections while in the hospital.
Hospital-acquired infections include bloodstream infections, pneumonia, surgical site infections, and urinary tract infections. Higher levels of training for RNs lead to increased skill in managing tasks like changing catheters, sanitizing ventilators, and changing patients’ dressings — all of which can lead to infection if improperly and unsafely performed.
- 10. Lower Incidence of Post-Surgical Mortality Among Patients
Several studies cited by the AACN showed links between BSN-educated nurses and better patient outcomes, including reduced post-surgical mortality rates. In 2014, University of Michigan researchers discovered an association between a 10% increase in BSN-prepared nurses in hospitals and an 11% decrease in the odds of patient mortality.
A 2013 article stated that a 10-point increase in the percentage of hospital bachelor’s-level nurses correlated with an average of nearly 7.5 fewer deaths for every 1,000 patients with complications.