What is a BSN Degree?
A would-be student just beginning to look into a career may be intimidated by all the letters and acronyms in nursing – ADN, ASN, RN, LPN, BSN, MSN. But, those letters have real significance and stand for education, learning, clinical experience, and the promise of a well-trained, experienced nurse. So, if you think that nursing is a good fit for you, you need to know the meaning of BSN and all those other letters. And it’s time to figure out what all the nursing letters are saying.
What Are The BSN Degree Requirements?
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN, is a type of degree. But the meaning of BSN, when you get down to it, opens up a broad set of possibilities for your career, including specializations. People interested in earning a BSN and the salary that goes with it must attend a four-year university or college. However, there are now many ways to earn this degree. For example, they can earn an online BSN through one of the many top online RN to BSN programs currently available.
A BSN is a bachelor’s degree requiring four years of study. However, if you know that you want to be a nurse, you can set your course to earn a BSN from the very beginning. Students typically spend the first two years taking the prerequisite courses. These are general education courses like math and writing that are the fundamentals of a 4-year bachelor’s degree. Anatomy, physiology, algebra, chemistry, and psychology are just a few of the required courses to enter the nursing program.
After students complete the prerequisites, they are usually required to submit a separate application to the nursing program. However, many BSN programs now offer automatic acceptance into the nursing program from freshman year – a way of fast-tracking trained nurses to meet the market shortage. Pathophysiology, microbiology, and research topics in nursing are some of the required courses at most nursing schools. Students are also required to complete clinical rotations to apply the skills they learned in the classroom.
BSN vs RN and All the Other Letters Too
Many students go straight into a 4-year program knowing they want to be a nurse. Still, it is much more common for a person to become a nurse at the RN level and then go to the BSN. That means they first earn an ADN, usually at a community college (ADN stands for Associate’s Degree in Nursing). The person who earns an associate’s degree gets all of the credits they need to sit for the NCLEX exam, become a licensed Registered Nurse (RN), and take all of those general ed courses for the first two years of a 4-year degree.
So now you’re a working nurse. Even though an associate’s degree is the minimum education required to enter this field, registered nurses are strongly advised to earn their BSN. The American Nurses Association wants the majority of nurses to have a BSN. The BSN vs. RN issue is preparedness, opportunity, and reimbursement. Nurses with BSN may have more job opportunities. The BSN salary is also likely to be much higher than an RN with an ADN. A nurse with a BSN can earn anywhere from $3000 to $8000 more per year than a nurse with an ADN.
In many places, hospitals and clinics already require that nurses have a BSN just to be hired. Even with a shortage, the nursing field is highly competitive. After all, good nurses are hard to find. Therefore, employers are looking for nurses who stand out from the many others applying for the same position. For that reason, colleges and universities have developed online RN to BSN degree programs, many quite affordable. In addition, accelerated BSN degree programs have become very common to attract professionals from other fields who already have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline and who want to become nurses. These programs meet a need, and the higher salary makes the extra effort extra attractive.
Are There Other Paths to a Nursing Career?
Many nurses who have earned their BSN go on to make their MSN. An MSN means a Master of Science in Nursing. The MSN is generally two to three years of schooling beyond the BSN. However, an accelerated MSN program of only one year is becoming more popular. People who have a master’s degree in nursing have several career options. Those options are nursing educator, nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist.
Nurses with an MSN can teach at community and technical colleges and in hospital diploma programs. A nurse practitioner can perform many of the tasks that doctors perform. They are essentially doctors, though, by law, they must work under the supervision of a doctor. For example, nurse anesthetists administer anesthetics and usually work under the direction of an anesthesiologist. A clinical nurse specialist is a nurse who specializes in a particular area, such as gerontology or pediatrics. While BSN salary can be much higher in a BSN vs. RN situation, wages for these specializations are often six figures.
How Can I Prepare to Earn a BSN?
The best thing that students can do to earn a BSN is to start early. High school students should already take anatomy, biology, and chemistry courses. Hence, they are ready for their college-level requirements. Nurses who have already earned their ADN should start researching different BSN schools. The admissions process for nursing school can be highly competitive, and schools are, in all honesty, happy to cut second-rate applications. Finally, suppose you’re already working as an RN. In that case, it’s essential to realize that some employers will pay for employees to go back to school and earn their BSN; ask if your facility offers that perk. If they don’t, tell them they’re making a big mistake.