BSN Degree: What Can you Do with It and How Can You Get It

BSN Degree

Are you interested in helping people and working in the medical industry? Being a nurse may be the right career choice for you. But before you can put together a plan of attack, you must first figure out what type of nurse you want to be. There are a number of different types of degrees, such as: ADN, ASN, RN, LPN, BSN, and MSN. Each has its own set of educational requirements and provides you with an added level of responsibility in your career. After much consideration, we think a BSN degree is the best choice. 

WHAT IS A BSN DEGREE?

a group of nurses

A BSN degree is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. At its simplest, a BSN degree is like any other bachelor’s degrees. You are required to complete four years of schooling, including a number of required classes.

Most universities require nursing candidates to complete one to two years of prerequisites, which normally consist of anatomy, physiology, algebra, chemistry, and psychology. They then must apply for the BSN program. Once accepted, students will take more advanced courses such as pathophysiology, microbiology, health assessment and research topics related to nursing.

WHY GET A BSN?

a nurse taking care of her patient

As we mentioned above, there are a number of different roads one can take to become a nurse, many of which take less time and money than a BSN.
 
Having an associate’s degree in nursing, known as an ADN is the minimum level of education required to work as a nurse. While it may seem like the easiest choice to complete this two-year degree, most professionals in the nursing community recommend students get their BSN.
 
Not only do BSNs make more than ADNs, anywhere from $3000 to $8000 more per year, they often have more career opportunities compared to those with just an associate’s degree. Many hospitals and clinics are beginning to require nurses to have a BSN just to be hired. The American Nurses Association hopes that 80 percent of all nurses will have a BSN by 2020.
 
In addition, nurses with BSNs are able to specialize in specific areas of nursing, such as pediatric or public health.

edUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS

There are a number of ways you can get your BSN.

aspiring nursing graduates
  • Traditional BSN Method

If you are a high school student and are interested in becoming a nurse, the best plan of attack is to apply to a college or university with a bachelor’s in nursing program. In order to prepare, you should take as many anatomy, biology, and chemistry classes as you can while in high school. Not only will this set you apart from the other applicants, but it will also help to prepare you for college-level courses.

Once accepted, students will spend their first two years completing general courses for their liberal arts education requirements, as well as prerequisites for their nursing major. Then, they will apply to the nursing program. During these final four semesters of schooling, students will complete advanced coursework and gain clinical experiences. Students will complete supervised clinicals, which will help them to develop competencies in nursing therapies, leadership, health interventions and care for patients.

  • Associate’s Degree in Nursing

Many nurses currently working in the field only have an Associate’s Degree in Nursing. In order to advance their careers, they may elect to continue their education and earn an advanced degree. There are a number of programs available, such as online and night classes which can help you complete your bachelor's degree. In addition, many institutions will pay for you to go back to school to earn your BSN. Simply ask your place of employment if they offer this generous benefit.

Students working toward their BSN degree will complete college coursework in topics such as anatomy and physiology, microbiology and psychology. Coursework in this program may include:

  • Pharmacology
  • Health assessment
  • Health care ethics
  • Issues in aging and longevity
  • Bachelor’s Degree in a Non-Nursing Discipline 

Many people graduate with an unrelated degree only to realize their healthcare calling after the fact. If you already completed your bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline, you are in luck. There are a number of accelerated BSN degree programs that do not require you to retake introductory classes you took as a freshman and sophomore.
 
In order to get into these programs, students must complete prerequisite courses such as human anatomy and physiology, microbiology, statistics, and psychology. Students will then complete the same upper division coursework that those enrolled in a traditional four-year BSN program complete. Some course topics might include:

  • Wellness/health promotion across the lifespan
  • Nursing management of the adult patient with health problems
  • Nursing care of patients with complex health problems
  • Professional nursing: past, present, and future
  • Nursing care of the childbearing family

Following graduation, all students must receive their nursing license. The requirements for this include:

  • Graduating from an accredited training program
  • Passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN)

In addition to receiving a national license, there are requirements in each state. You will need to contact your state’s board of nursing to determine what you must complete. Continuing education credits must also be completed periodically to renew your license.

The National League of Nursing and the American Nursing Credentialing Center offer additional credentials for nurses who wish to specialize in a specific area, such as pediatrics.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A BSN DEGREE?

While most nurses work in a hospital or private clinic, with a BSN, your career can take you anywhere. Below are just a few of the interesting jobs you can do with a BSN degree.

  • Public Health Nurse
nurses on a medical mission

This type of nursing is focused on preventative care, and those in this field typically work in disease prevention. They are responsible for screening adults and children for disabilities and other health conditions. Public health nurses may also become staples in their community, passing out information about parenting issues, community resources, or even nutritional information.

Nurses in this line of work tend to work more independently; they are not part of a larger team like you may find in a hospital or clinic. Public health nurses also frequently work with under-served populations, such as immigrants and those who speak limited English.

  • Care Coordinator or Navigator
nurse talking to patient

A care navigator’s role is to help patients coordinate their complicated healthcare situation, primarily for those with cancer or organ failure. Oftentimes, these navigators are the main contact person for patients and run support groups for both patients and their families. Care coordinators are well-versed in the diseases they manage and are able to help educate patients about the process. One of their most important roles is to provide emotional support throughout the entire ordeal.

  • Case Manager
doctor on the phone

Case managers are responsible for providing in-home nursing care to elderly patients with complex medical needs or those with disabilities. These nurses work just as much with the families of their patients as they do with the individuals they are caring for.

  • Pediatrics or School Nurse
nurse applying first aid

While there is no official rule stating that pediatric nurses must have a BSN degree, it is often preferred. If not working in a clinic or hospital, pediatric nurses are often found in a school. School nurses get to work with children and have the added benefit of working regular hours and getting generous time off during school vacations.

  • Health Educator
nursing convention

Patient care educators are tasked with teaching patients how to manage their medical needs. While these nurses often work directly with patients, they may also work for an organization to help design programs that will be implemented on a larger scale.

  • Quality Coordinator
nurse showing results to a doctor

Not all nurses are required to work directly with patients. Quality coordinators work with medical data to analyze quality measures to make sure that projects or departments are compliant with regulations.

  • Nurse Manager or Director
group of nurses talking

In addition to helping patients, some nurses are responsible for managing other nurses. A nurse manager or director is a coveted leadership role. In addition to an increase in responsibility, this role often comes with a substantial pay raise.

  • Non-Traditional Nursing Jobs
nurses in military

In addition to the above jobs, those with a BSN are able to work in a number of new and interesting locations outside of a traditional hospital environment. Some of the most interesting places nurses can work include:

  • Cruise ships. This will give you the opportunity to travel the world. 
  • Camps. This is the perfect job for someone who has the summer off, like a school nurse
  • Prison. While not an exotic location, this is as non-traditional as they come. 
  • Army. Working for the army gives you the opportunity to work for something bigger than yourself. 

CONCLUSION

A BSN degree is a serious time and monetary commitment. While it may seem unnecessary since one can become a registered nurse with only two years of schooling, there are a number of reasons why completing a bachelor's degree in nursing is more beneficial, especially in the long run. Those with a BSN degree are more likely to be hired, have a higher starting salary, can move around throughout the organization easier, and are able to choose between a number of traditional and non-traditional career options.

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