High job satisfaction, low unemployment rates, and attractive salary are some of the criteria used by the U.S. News and World Report to rank Registered Nurse (RN) as one of the Best Jobs of 2015. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also expects continued growth of this profession over the next decade.
Making the decision to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a clear way to maximize career potential.
1. The Industry Recommends It
The U.S. health care system continues to change and become more complex. With the shift in focus from hospital-centered practice to primary and preventative care, nurses are required to be more and more independent, aid with case management and care coordination, and educate patients on health promotion.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) believe that the evolving skills of nursing require a bachelor’s degree as the “minimal preparation for professional practice.”
In a 2010 report by the Institute of Medicine, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health Report Recommendations,” an industry goal was set to increase the number of nurses with a bachelor’s degree to 80 percent by the year 2020. The report also recommended that all nurses with associate degrees or diplomas receive their bachelor’s degree within five years of graduation. The intended outcome of this is to allow nurses to become full partners with other health care professionals in today’s health care environment.
2. BSN Programs Are More Accessible Than Ever Before
Advances in technology and education have created the opportunity for the best campus-based RN-BSN programs to be offered in a flexible, completely online format. Both convenient and cost-effective, the online format allows self-paced learning that can be fit into the busy schedules of today’s nurses.
3. More Employers Are Requiring the BSN
It is becoming more common to see “BSN-required” or “BSN-preferred” in job postings. For example, Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston will only hire new graduate nurses if they have a BSN. At Sarasota Memorial Hospital, a Magnet® facility in Florida, nurses who are hired without a BSN are required to enroll in a program and complete it within three years.
4. The Magnet Status Movement
Many hospitals are pursuing the prestigious Magnet designation awarded by the ANCC. Hospitals that achieve Magnet status have been shown to enjoy increased RN retention and satisfaction. A salary study showed that nurse leaders at Magnet hospitals earned 4.8 percent more than their counterparts at non-Magnet institutions. Magnet status is also associated with improved patient safety and quality of care. These hospitals demonstrate decreased mortality rates, patient falls, and pressure ulcers.
However, achieving Magnet status is not easy, and there are many requirements for eligibility. Many of these pertain to workforce educational requirements. All Nurse Managers and Nurse Leaders are required to have at least a BSN degree, with many now requiring candidates to hold an MSN degree (a natural “next step” in nurse education advancement following the BSN). In line with the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations, all Magnet eligible hospitals also need to demonstrate a plan to increase the proportion of registered nurses with a BSN to 80 percent by 2020.
5. Personal and Professional Enrichment
All registered nurses, regardless of degree, must possess a strong amount of clinical knowledge to pass the NCLEX exam. However, bachelor’s prepared nurses receive a broader education. Their curriculum focuses on leadership and management skills. Emphasis is also placed on critical-thinking and decision-making with evidence-based practice being stressed. There is more exposure to research and technology. Special awareness of cultural, political, social, and economic views is enhanced, as well as learning about public health.
6. Steps Toward a Higher Degree
A BSN is a stepping stone to an advanced degree. Many opportunities exist for nurses who further their education.
- A Nurse Practitioner performs physical exams and complex procedures, diagnoses and treats illnesses and injuries, writes prescriptions, orders lab work and x-rays, and manages chronic problems. NP’s can specialize in many areas including adult, neonatal, geriatrics, or family practice. Nurse Practitioner was also ranked as a Best Job of 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
- A Nurse Educator uses clinical knowledge and passion for teaching to educate current and future nurses. Educators can work for a college or university, for a hospital-based program, or for a health facility to provide staff continuing education. There is a growing shortage of Nurse Educators, so this field will be in high demand.
- A Clinical Nurse Specialist provides expert care in specialty areas such as oncology, pediatrics, cardiac, or psychology.
- A Nurse Anesthetist administers anesthesia for surgery in operating rooms and outpatient centers
- A Certified Nurse Midwife provides prenatal care, assists with labor and delivery, and does annual exams for childbearing women.
- A joint master’s degree can also be obtained, combining a master’s degree in Nursing with Public Health, Business Administration, or Health Administration.
7. Higher Pay
A search of Payscale.com, based on gross national data, shows a Registered Nurse with a BSN averages $20.81 to $38.14 per hour. However, a Registered Nurse with an Associate’s degree averages only $20.12 to $34.14 per hour. While this rate can vary greatly by area, it demonstrates that overall nurses with a BSN receive higher pay.
The greater opportunities available with a BSN also translate into greater pay. A Clinical Nurse Manager averages a yearly salary of $54,772 to $99,594 according to Payscale.com. A nurse who receives an advanced degree such as a Nurse Practitioner can make $63,707 to $103,072 per year.
8. Better Patient Outcomes
In the landmark study by Dr. Linda Aiken, it was demonstrated that hospitals with a higher percentage of bachelor’s prepared nurses had greater patient outcomes and decreased patient mortality. A 10 percent increase in nurses with a BSN was associated with a five percent decreased risk of patient death. Also, increasing nurses with BSNs to 60 percent versus 20 percent would lead to 17.8 fewer deaths per 1000 surgical deaths.
Subsequent studies have yielded similar results. For example, a study published in the October 2014 issue of Medical Care showed that a 10 percent increase in BSN-prepared nurses led to a decrease in patient mortality rate of 10.9 percent.
9. Tuition Aid Is Often Available
Whether trying to achieve Magnet status or improve the quality of patient care, many employers offer reimbursement or assistance for registered nurses to advance their education and obtain a BSN. For example, Cox Medical in Missouri is offering up to $10,000 for full or half-time direct-care RNs to return to school for their BSN.
The AACN website offers a comprehensive list of scholarships available for nursing students. Financial aid and school loans are other options to help meet tuition costs.
Nursing is a desirable profession. There are countless avenues to explore and flexibility in shifts to accommodate all lifestyles. More importantly, the direct impact nurses can have on their patients’ lives offers immense personal satisfaction.
Anna Maria College’s online RN to BSN program is led by top nursing educators with experience in the high-pressure, high-stakes health care environment. Gain the most relevant nursing knowledge while expanding your professional circle. Click here to request more information about the online RN to BSN from Anna Maria College or call 877-265-3201.