With an aging population, longer life expectancy and new healthcare challenges in a changing world, demand for qualified nurses is huge and growing. It’s possible to become a registered nurse (RN) with just an associate degree (AD) in nursing, and many would argue that on-the-job experience and the right temperament are just as important as academic qualifications. However, many professional organizations and employers say that a bachelor’s degree should be the minimum requirement for entry-level nurses.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) has advocated since 1964 for all RNs to hold a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. The ANA’s position is that nursing has become more complex due to technological advances and organizational change. If this was true in the mid-1960s, then it’s certainly even more the case today.
A higher level of education has also been linked to better patient outcomes and a lower mortality rate, and many employers favor BSN-qualified nurses. These include the Veterans Health Administration, currently the largest employer of nurses in the US, and community or public health employers. In addition, all RNs on active duty with any branch of the US military are required to hold a BSN.
Gateway to graduate-level training
Getting a BSN enables you to go on to take a master’s degree and then potentially the Wilkes University doctoral education program, taking you to the highest level of professional nursing practice. Alternatively, you could study for a PhD in nursing in order to work in a more research-focused field. For anyone with a real interest in nursing, higher education presents a wealth of opportunities to learn more about the subject and develop skills, as well as opening the door to more varied employment.
Wider professional opportunities
A great deal of day-to-day nursing consists of routine tasks and bedside care. However, there is much more to the profession than this, and obtaining a bachelor’s degree is the first step to more advanced nursing opportunities. Becoming a nursing manager, engaging in specialized research, or working as a nurse educator at a medical school are all possible avenues you can explore once you have a BSN under your belt.
As in most sectors of employment, the more qualified you are, the higher wages you can expect. The lifetime earnings for nurses whose initial learning includes the BSN are higher than those who never take a bachelor’s course. In the US, BSN-qualified nurses can expect a higher median salary than those with just an associate degree, though actual wages vary from state to state.
One thing that’s certain is that if you’re serious about nursing, you’ll want to take a bachelor’s of science in the subject. You can study full-time before beginning your career, or take an online course at any time while also working in the field.
The process of study will improve your understanding and appreciation of the various aspects of nursing, and once you’ve obtained the qualification, you’ll find a whole world of opportunities, both professional and academic, opening up before you.