A BSN program is an entry-level college nursing program that allows students to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, which can then be used to pursue additional educational programs, or to land a job in the medical field. Many colleges and universities offer BSN programs throughout the United States and Canada, and once earned, the student can use it to qualify for a licensing examination to become a registered nurse (RN). Some colleges and universities offer an accelerated BSN program, which will allow you to complete your coursework and graduate in less than three years.
Because a BSN program is a unique field of study that differs from other nursing programs, it has its own educational requirements, and offers its own unique benefits.
Individuals who complete a four-year BSN program can take the examination for licensed nurses in order to earn their licensing and become a registered nurse. Once one becomes a registered nurse, additional job opportunities, as well as a higher salary, will become available, increasing your career growth without having to pursue additional educational programs.
Unlike associate degree programs and certain other nursing programs, a four-year BSN provides you with a foundation of knowledge that prepares you for other areas of study, educating you in humanities, nursing science, the functioning of the human body and health, therapeutics, and more.
Unlike a registered nurse who completed an ADN program, BSN nurses have two years’ worth of additional academic study that covers a variety of topics that those who completed an associate program never received. While there is controversy about whether an ADN program is better because of the more extensive hands-on experience it offers or a BSN is better because of its rigorous academics, many professionals argue that a BSN is more beneficial overall.
While hands-on experience is something both an ADN and a BSN will develop over the course of their respective careers, they only attend school once, and those in a BSN program ultimately learn more in terms of academics. Some professionals are pushing for a BSN to become the minimum educational requirements necessary to become an RN, and while those who are already registered nurses with ADNs will not lose their licensing, they may find it harder to find employment in the future if the minimum requirements were ever raised.
The educational requirements of a BSN degree depend on the school you will attend. Generally, the educations program will be split so that approximately 50-percent of the coursework completed is general education, electives, and nursing prerequisites, while the rest of the credit hours will be completed taking BSN-specific courses.
Although the exact classes you take will depend on the university you’re enrolled with, many are similar in nature, and some are required to be part of the curriculum. Typical coursework for a BSN includes:
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Nursing
- Research in Nursing
- Public Health
- Clinical Applications for Related Courses, such as Anatomy and Physiology
- Health Assessments
- Related Fields of Study
Once you achieve your BSN program, you can then go on to gain additional educational certificates or degrees. The next most common educational progression after a BSN is the DNP (Doctor of Nursing program), which is shifts the nurse into areas of study including diagnoses and treatment, and provides the knowledge necessary to eventually become an independent health care provider. Once earned, a DNP then qualifies the graduate to become an Nurse Practitioner (NP), a CRN anesthetist, a nurse midwife, or a clinical nurse specialist (CNS). Each of these programs will provide a massive boost in career and earning potential.
The healthcare field is growing, and registered nurses are in demand by more than just hospitals. By completing a BSN and becoming an RN, you’ll be able to find employment at nursing homes, at in-home care companies, private companies in need of nurses, as a private health care provider for individuals who need care, and more. Career prospects are very good, and are anticipated to continue growing as the medical field expands and individuals continue to live longer.
Although salary is influenced by many factors, including location, place of employment, experience, years on the job, and more, a BSN graduate who gains employment as a registered nurse can anticipate a salary of about $50,000 per year. As one gains more work experience, the salary will go up, with some BSN graduates earning over $75,000 a year.
If you’re trying to choose between an ADN program and a BSN program as the foundation to launch your nursing career, it is important to look at the benefits and requirements of each program, and to evaluate which is best based on your future goals. If, for example, you simply want a career as a registered nurse, an ADN program might suit you best due to its shorter time span and additional hands-on experience. If, on the other hand, you want to advance your career to higher-paying positions, earning a BSN will give you the ability to get a DNP and become a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, or one of several other higher-paying certifications.