What Is a BSN?

BSN student going to class

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is an academic qualification that you can use to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare field. This undergraduate degree offers a thorough study of essential nursing knowledge and skills, ranging from human anatomy to leadership in nursing. Right now is a great time to pursue a BSN program because there is a high demand for qualified nurses throughout the country.*

What’s the Difference Between an RN and a BSN?

The healthcare field has a lot of acronyms that may be a little confusing for the uninitiated. An RN is a registered nurse—a working professional who is licensed to diagnose, treat and care for patients. In contrast, a BSN is a degree program that prepares students to become RNs. It should be noted that not all RNs have a BSN, although many of them do. Currently practicing RNs who do not hold a BSN may opt to go back to school while working to earn this degree and advance their skills, opening the door to new and more lucrative opportunities.

What Are the Different Types of BSN Degree Programs?

Some universities offer different types of BSN degree programs. These are designed to meet the needs of individuals at varying stages of their careers. For example, if you are a high school student or recent graduate who would like to enter healthcare, you could enroll in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Pre-Licensure) program.

This degree enables you to establish a thorough framework of nursing skills and knowledge. You will learn everything you need to successfully care for patients and work with other healthcare professionals—from conducting health assessments to preparing hospitalized patients for a safe discharge. This program prepares you to successfully pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam to obtain licensure as an RN.

Some individuals become registered nurses after earning an associate degree and passing the NCLEX exam. This enables them to enter the nursing field without a four-year degree. Unfortunately, however, nurses with an associate degree won’t earn as much as their BSN-holding counterparts, nor are they as likely to be promoted to high-level positions. This is why many RNs opt to go back to school to earn an RN to BSN degree. An RN to BSN is an accelerated program that is customized to meet the needs of working professionals who seek in-depth nursing knowledge and skills.

Another BSN degree option is ideal for individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree in another field but want to transition to the nursing field. The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program can enable these individuals to complete the degree in less than two years. It prepares students to successfully pass the NCLEX.

Why Should I Earn a BSN Degree?

Some students wonder, “If I can start working with just an associate degree, why should I earn a BSN?” Although it is possible to be a nurse without a BSN, the truth is that a BSN is vastly preferable for healthcare workers. There are many compelling reasons to earn your BSN degree, including the following:

  • Better patient outcomes: Research indicates that BSN holders contribute to better patient outcomes and high-quality patient care.**
  • Higher earning potential: Registered nurses who hold a BSN tend to earn more than those with just an associate degree.**
  • Advanced job opportunities: RNs with a BSN may be more likely to be hired for higher-level positions. They can also enjoy increased job opportunities, as many hospitals and clinics prefer to hire RNs with BSNs.

In addition, the healthcare industry as a whole is shifting toward a preference for more highly educated nurses. In fact, at least one state has passed a “BSN in 10” law, which requires all RNs to obtain a BSN within 10 years of earning RN licensure.

What Are the Career Options for BSN Graduates?

For individuals who are just beginning to explore healthcare as a potential career option, it is often surprising to learn that there are many choices within the nursing field. There are numerous specialization paths for registered nurses with a RN or BSN, including the following:

  • Oncology nursing: This kind of nursing involves working with cancer patients. 
  • Pediatric nursing: Specializing in children’s health and development is a part of pediatric nursing.
  • Dialysis nursing: Dialysis nurses ensure the safety of kidney disease patients while they receive dialysis treatments.
  • Bariatrics nursing: Working with patients undergoing weight loss surgeries is part of bariatrics nursing.

These are just a few possibilities. An RN with a BSN can choose from dozens of specializations.

Begin working toward your career in nursing with a BSN degree from Grand Canyon University. Our flexible options include the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Pre-Licensure), an Accelerated BSN program and an RN to BSN degree for currently practicing nurses. Click on Request Info at the top of your screen to learn more about joining our dynamic learning community.

Retrieved From:

*Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses, October 2020.

**Building the Case for More Highly Educated Nurses, October 2020.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.

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