If you are considering becoming a nurse, you probably already know that there are several degree options available. But not all nursing degrees are created equal. For most people pursuing a career in nursing, the best place to start is with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. In this post, we will explain why a BSN in nursing is important.
At Pacific Lutheran University, our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program equips students to start their nursing career in as few as 16 months. In the accelerated program, you will complete a comprehensive nursing curriculum that will set you up for career advantages such as a higher salary, better job security and more professional growth opportunities.
What Is a BSN?
Registered nurses at your local health care facility may hold one of a variety of degrees, such as an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), a BSN or a Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN). Associate degrees used to be a common way to earn a nursing degree quickly, but the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and health care employers are now leaning strongly toward nurses having a bachelor’s degree or higher to enter the field.
Plus, if you choose an accelerated BSN, you will often be able to complete your bachelor’s degree in one to two years, so there is little advantage to going with an associate degree program.
BSN programs focus on comprehensive clinical education, meaning you will practice your skills in a clinical environment. You will also learn about in-depth concepts such as health disparities, nursing leadership, preventative care measures and nursing research.
Wondering how to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor's degree? Follow these steps to get started.
Why Is a BSN Important?
Next, we will cover in detail why a BSN in nursing is important on your path to becoming a nurse. As you will read, a BSN will prepare you for a long and thriving career.
1. High Demand
In recent years, nurses with a BSN have become highly sought after by healthcare employers. This is because with a BSN, you receive a more extensive and comprehensive clinical education compared to an associate degree in nursing program. This prepares you to handle challenging and complex patient situations effectively.
If you are looking for a career in nursing where you will be in demand and have high job security, earning a BSN is the first step. One of the key reasons why a BSN in nursing is important is the ability to find a job after graduation.
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2. Improved Patient Outcomes
An important factor contributing to the importance of a BSN, as well as the high demand for BSN-educated nurses by health care employers, is that better-educated nurses drive improved patient outcomes. According to the AACN, numerous studies show that nursing staffs with a higher proportion of BSNs compared to ADNs result in lower patient mortality and better outcomes.
Improved patient outcomes are likely the result of the extensive clinical preparation BSN programs provide, along with the focus on preparing nurses to be health leaders. The data support the clinical value of a bachelor’s degree education. So, for the sake of your future patients, investing in a BSN is a wise decision on your path to becoming a nurse.
3. Higher Salary
Another clear reason why a BSN in nursing is important is that it will open the door to higher compensation. Within the United States, nurses with a BSN earn a higher average salary than nurses with an associate degree.
Furthermore, a BSN makes you competitive for promotions, and rising to higher levels in your nursing career comes with more pay.
4. More Specialty Choices
Nurses with an associate degree are somewhat limited in the types of roles they can fill, while those with a BSN are more likely to enter any specialty within nursing. A BSN makes you attractive for competitive specialties, including specialties that require in-depth expertise. You will be able to choose among roles within a hospital or clinic such as:
- Emergency nursing
- Critical care nursing
- Pediatric nursing
- Rehabilitation nursing
- Cardiac nursing
- Pulmonary nursing
- Surgical nursing
The options are practically endless once you earn a BSN. Not only are myriad clinical specialties available, you can also consider community roles, including:
- School nursing
- Public health nursing
- Legal nurse consulting
- Telehealth nursing
- Home health nursing
- Nurse health coaching
5. Ability to Work with More Employers
Many employers prefer hiring nurses with a BSN, including some of the top healthcare facilities. For example, hospitals that have earned Magnet recognition are focused on hiring a high proportion of nurses with bachelor’s degrees. In these hospitals, nurse leaders are actually required to have a bachelor’s degree. Magnet organizations are usually leaders in their respective regions, so if you hope to work with one of these leaders in patient care, you will need to earn a BSN first.
Likewise, according to the AACN, if you are aiming to work in the U.S. Armed Forces, active duty nurses in several of the branches of the military are required to have a BSN. Working in Veterans Affairs hospitals also requires a BSN if you want to be promoted beyond entry-level positions.
6. Leadership Potential
While your end goal right now may be to become a bedside nurse, you may decide in a few years that you want to take on a leadership or management role. To keep these options open to you, earning a BSN is ideal preparation.
Nurses with a BSN are best positioned to compete for these coveted roles. Among the leadership roles you can pursue with a BSN, after gaining some experience as a bedside nurse, are case manager, nurse manager and healthcare administrator, just to name a few.
7. Eligibility for Advanced Degrees
Maybe you want to secure a leadership role in a clinical setting. If that is the case, perhaps one of these roles might appeal to you:
- Nurse practitioner
- Nurse anesthetist
- Nurse midwife
- Clinical nurse specialist
- Nurse educator
Each of these roles requires an advanced degree, either a master’s or doctorate degree. To qualify for these competitive programs, you will first need a BSN. After you earn your advanced degree and become certified in one of these areas, you will be able to take on more responsibility and receive a significant pay boost. There is a reason why nurse practitioner is rated the number one best job in health care by U.S. News & World Report.
8. A BSN Might Soon Be Required
The nursing community has been moving steadily in the direction of preferring bachelor’s degrees for nurses. It would not be surprising if, in the near future, more organizations — and even state governments — begin requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher for licensing. If you are just starting out in your career, think toward your future and start planning for the next 30 years. Earning a BSN is the only degree you will need to set yourself up for a long and rewarding career.
Start Your Nursing Journey at Pacific Lutheran University
Now that you know why a BSN in nursing is important, it is time to start earning your degree. At Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) near Seattle, you can earn a BSN in as few as 16 months through the ABSN program. Our accelerated nursing program offers three start dates each year — in February, June and September — meaning you can spend less time waiting and more time earning your degree.
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The ABSN program combines online classes, skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations. This approach enables you to use self-directed learning while also gaining valuable in-person clinical experience. If you have at least 60 non-nursing college credits, or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you may be eligible to apply to the ABSN program.
To learn more about becoming a nurse through PLU, fill out our online form and our admissions counselors will be in touch.