If you are interested in a nursing, one of the most important stepping stones to a rewarding career is a bachelor of science in nursing, or BSN. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing is one of the most in demand fields in the US, with a job growth of 26% by 2020.

To open yourself up to many of those job opportunities, you will need to have at least your BSN. Many of the most financially rewarding careers in nursing only are open to those with a graduate nursing degree, which you only can obtain by first getting your BSN. For example, the most high paying nursing specialties – clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and nurse practitioners – require you to have your BSN, and eventually a Master of Science in Nursing, or MSN.

To complete your BSN, you will need to complete:

Four years of full time study, which includes general education classes, nursing classes, and a set number of nursing clinical hours

After you earn your degree, you will be qualified to sit for the nursing NCLEX examination.

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BSN Admission Requirements

Admission requirements will vary, but generally, should have the following to enter a good BSN program:

  • Cumulative GPA in high school or associate’s degree program of 2.75 or higher
  • GPA of 2.5 or higher for all science courses
  • Essay
  • References
  • CV or resume
  • Significant volunteer experience
  • Prior coursework in anatomy, biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, microbiology, physiology

If you wish to transfer credits from another university, you will need to have a certain number of credits, usually in the area of 30-40.

The BSN Degree Curriculum

The exact courses that you will take to earn your BSN will vary depending upon the university, but you can expect your program to cover most of the following classes:

  • Assessment of Health and Illness
  • Anatomy, or Structure of the Human Body
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Health Maintenance and Restoration
  • Research in Nursing
  • Health Promotion and Risk Reduction
  • Mental Health
  • Reproductive Health
  • Statistics
  • Psychology
  • Community Health Nursing
  • Leadership and Management
  • Nursing Care I and II

Nursing Specialties

You usually will graduate as a general registered nurse with your BSN. However, there are some programs where you can get specific clinical training either during your BSN program, or right afterwards. This will give you specific skills to work with certain types of patients.

For example, you can become a diabetes management nurse, an oncology nurse, a dermatology nurse, or a geriatric nurse. Each of those specializations requires additional hours at the bachelors or post bachelors level.

BSN Clinical Hours Requirements

Exact clinical hour requirements for nurses will vary depending upon the BSN program. Generally, the recommended ratio is three clinical learning hours for every one hour of classroom time.

BSN Professional and Technical Requirements

Nurses and nursing students always are held to high standards of integrity and competency, to ensure that they are performing the most responsible and safe care possible. Regardless of the BSN program you are in, you will need to show the following skills and technical requirements:

  • Technical skills: Nursing students are assessed in both their practice labs and clinical hours to ensure that they are fully able to do all of the technical skills required of a nurse.
  • Intellectual requirements: Critical thinking is very important for clinical nursing, as you are responsible for good patient care. As a nursing student, your ability to measure, reason, calculate and analyze information will be noted and measured.
  • Fine motor skills: You have to be able to provide care, which includes making medications, doing treatments, and assessing patients. You will need to be able to do CPR, and handle emergencies, for example.
  • Observation abilities: You need to be able to observe the patient accurately so as to assess condition and signs of disease.
  • Good communication: You have to be able to talk to patients, doctors and family members effectively.
  • Social requirements: You need to have good emotional and mental health so you can exercise the best clinical judgement.

How to Pay for Your BSN

Given that nurses are in such high demand, there are many scholarships and fellowships available across the country for aspiring nurses. Some of the best scholarship opportunities include these:

BSN Nursing Career Videos

If you are interested in nursing and your BSN, be sure to check out these related videos:

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A Spring 2013 Career Exploration Series Event designed to help you gather information about careers and career paths as well as network and make connections. Each session begins with a panel-style discussion during which the panel members will discuss their background and involvement with the evening’s topic. The session concludes with the opportunity to talk informally with the panel.

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Key BSN Statistics

Earning your BSN is not just a good career move – it may end up being a requirement to become a nurse in future years. According to the American Association of the Colleges of Nursing, a recent report from the Institute of Medicine has a goal of increasing the number of nurses with a BSN from 50% to 80% by 2020. IOM also is recommending that all nurses with associate’s degrees and diplomas be required to earn their BSN within five years.

  • Nurses with a BSN make up 60% of the nursing workforce at the bedside in FL, NJ, CA and PA, according to a Nurse.com survey in 2011.

  • The National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice recommends that at least of the nurse workforce have at least a BSN.

  • Several states have introduced bills that would make having a BSN a legal requirement to become a nurse.

  • There is a trend towards hiring only BSNs in the future – many hospitals are requiring any nurses with an associate’s degree to earn their BSN by 2020.

  • Many hospitals are trending towards magnet status, which is awarded and administered by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center. There are fewer than 400 of these facilities around the world. A magnet hospital system has been recognized for high quality nursing leadership and the highest professional models of care. Hospitals that want to be recognized as magnets are strongly encouraging nurses to earn their BSN’s.

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