The field of nursing is a quickly growing field; the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that registered nurse employment will increase by 19% from 2012-22.
But there are several paths to becoming a registered nurse: earning a 1-2 year RN diploma, earning a 2 year associate’s degree, or earning a 4 year bachelor’s degree, or BSN.
Earning your BSN eventually is the smartest thing you can do for your nursing career.
#1 BSN Holders Make More Money
Payscale.com has just released 2014 data that shows there are major salary difference between people with an RN and a BSN. The RN will earn a median of $39,100, and a BSN holder will earn more than $69,000:
#2 Some Nursing Careers Open Only to BSN Holders
Having a bachelor’s degree is essential to be admitted to most graduate nursing programs. Four of the highest paying nursing jobs – nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist and clinical nurse specialist – require you to have a BSN.
Keep in mind that a BSN is essential if you ever want to get out of basic clinical care. Many nurses do not want to be working the floor when they are 60 years old. They want to move into administration or teaching. This is possible only with a BSN or higher degree.
#3 BSN Curriculum Teaches Much More Than Clinical Skills
RNs with a diploma usually learn just the basics of clinical care. As a BSN holder, you will have learned much more – communication, critical thinking and leadership skills. These are essential skills if you want to move into higher paying jobs with more responsibility.
The AACN also recognizes the BSN as the minimum educational requirement for professional nursing practice.
#4 Research Shows That BSN Holders Offer Better Patient Care
The American Association of the Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has collected extensive research that indicates that higher nursing education makes a major difference in clinical outcomes. Nurses with a BSN have better patient outcomes, including lower mortality rates and lower failure to rescue rates as well. The research also indicates that BSN holders have higher proficiency in making good diagnoses.
#5 Hospitals Seek ‘Magnet’ Designation, and Want Higher Educated Nurses
The ‘magnet’ designation, awarded by the American Nurses Association, is highly coveted by hospitals, and has been given to 400 hospitals to date. One of the key requirements of earning the designation is the education level of the nursing staff.
For example, the ANA requires that 75% of nurse managers have a BSN as of Jan. 1, 2011, and 100% had to have a BSN by Jan. 1, 2013. Also, 48% of nurses have to have a BSN or higher.
#6 BSN Holders Are Eligible for Many More Posted Nurse Jobs
According to a recent study by BurningGlass.com, in a study of 187,000* nurse job posts over three months, there were the following education requirements in the posts:
Diploma or associate’s degree – 51%
Bachelor’s degree – 37%
Graduate degree – 23%
High school – 6%
What this shows is that a nurse with an RN diploma is eligible for 51% of the positions, while a person with a BSN is eligible for 88%. Further, the study showed that the mean salary for a BSN holder was $10,000 higher.
#7 Earning a BSN Is Easier Than Ever
In recent years, there has been an explosion in BSN programs, given the great demand for nursing professionals. Many of these programs are online. This allows you to earn your BSN from the comfort of your own home, with minimal need to visit the college campus.
#8 Earning a BSN May Be a Requirement in the Future
If you want to start out your career with an RN diploma, that is fine. It will allow you to gain some nursing experience. But you should know that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a study recently on the nursing profession. It recommended that BSN holders be increased from 50% to 80% by 2020. Nurses are being strongly encouraged to get their BSN within five years of earning a diploma or an associate’s degree.
The AACN is following the recommendations of the IOM and is also making the same recommendation. As these large, respected medical institutions make these recommendations, employers in the health care field tend to follow them as well. This means that many health care employers could require that their nurses earn their BSN by 2020.
#9 BSN Connected to Higher Professional Advancement
Your BSN will open your career up to fascinating specialities in pediatrics, gynecology, surgery, oncology, diabetes, psychiatry and more. With only an RN, you are going to be very limited in your career advancement. It is difficult to ever advance beyond basic floor patient care with an RN diploma.
*Source: BurningGlass.com (analysis of nurse job postings, 4/25/2013-7/21/2013)