Despite the nursing shortage, there has been a push for RNs to obtain their Bachelor of Science degrees in nursing for decades. The Future of Nursing Report, written by the Institute of Medicine in 2010, recommended that 80% of nurses obtain their baccalaureate degree by 2020. In 2010, approximately half of practicing nurses had earned their BSN degree (Institute of Medicine. 2011).
A recent study published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship reveals that approximately 64% of hospital-based nurses will obtain their bachelor’s degrees by 2020, with 80% earning a BSN by 2025.
Fortunately, many options are available for RNs who desire to obtain their baccalaureate degrees. Let’s take a look at why getting a BSN is desirable and then explore educational opportunities.
Benefits of a BSN
Healthcare is becoming more complex. A four-year education offers opportunities to learn detailed information about health, disease, public policy, and reimbursement practices. Multiple studies demonstrate that having a higher percentage of baccalaureate-prepared nurses improve patient outcomes and decreases mortality rates. Earning a baccalaureate degree opens doors to careers which are unavailable to those nurses who possess Associate Degrees or Diplomas in Nursing. Europe, Australia, and New Zealand already require nurses to have a bachelor’s degree for entry into the nursing profession. Several states are considering requiring that nurses who seek to renew their licenses possess a BSN. Fortunately, education that leads to a Baccalaureate degree in nursing is easier than ever to access.
Support for Nurses Seeking Baccalaureate Degrees
Leaders of an increasing number of healthcare organizations recognize that having nurses in possession of BSN degrees on staff is beneficial. Tuition reimbursement is often available. Some organizations have partnered with local colleges and universities to make courses available at convenient times and locations. Leading organizations provide nurses with opportunities for flexible scheduling so that they can further their education. In some places, healthcare organizations and colleges are teaming up and giving tuition breaks. Scholarships and payment plans help to make education affordable.
Many Paths Lead to a BSN
Most nurses opt for online or hybrid paths to obtain their baccalaureate degree, and some nurses prefer on-campus courses instead. Costs of earning a BSN varies greatly. Some programs charge less than $10,000, while others are close to $40,000. It is essential that whichever route is decided upon that it be an accredited program. All three types of programs require clinical experience if they are high-quality programs.
Many scheduling options are available. For example, some nurses prefer to take multiple courses for a full semester, following a traditional school calendar. Other nurses prefer programs that afford those opportunities to take one class at a time for just a few weeks.
Most programs provide nurses with opportunities to attend full or part-time. Online, hybrid, and on-campus paths all offer excellent educational opportunities. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of each.
Online programs which lead to a BSN are Popular
Online programs offer the convenience of being able to attend classes from anywhere. Nurses who have family commitments or live a considerable distance from colleges and universities are now able to attend the institution of their choice, regardless of location. Students can select from a wide range of universities, and they can choose the school that meets their individual needs the best. There is a time saving, as it is unnecessary to commute to campus, and not commuting can help keep expenses down.
It is essential to be self-directed and highly disciplined to complete an online BSN program successfully. Students need to have a moderate amount of expertise using technology. While interaction with other students and instructions is part of any BSN route, online programs provide no or limited opportunities to meet face-to-face with others.
Arranging practicums can be challenging when completing an online program. However, it is often possible to create practicums which are convenient to students’ home and work locations. Students are required to take more responsibility for arranging internships when doing online courses compared with other avenues.
Pros and Cons of On-Campus Programs
On-campus baccalaureate degree programs are a terrific option for nurses who prefer hands-on learning and like to learn in the traditional classroom environment. Opportunities to interact with professors and other students are great. Some nurses benefit from the structure and routine of attending class. Instructors are readily available to provide guidance in person should it be needed. Students may not have to be concerned with arranging practicums.
On-campus programs may require additional fees for parking and nursing laboratories. There is little flexibility in scheduling. Nurses who live far from educational institutions may need to commute long distances or be limited in the number of universities which are available to them.
Hybrid Programs combine the Best of Online and On-Campus Learning Opportunities
Some hybrid nursing programs offer an accelerated path to obtaining a BSN. These routes can be very challenging and time-consuming. They can leave time for little else.
Many hybrid nursing programs offer students a combination of online and on-campus courses. This makes sense for many nurses. Students have opportunities to work on classes at their convenience when doing some online coursework. Lab or on-site classes provide face-to-face opportunities to meet with other students and instructors.
Obtaining your BSN is an Investment for Your Future
Earning a BSN can be tiring and financially straining. However, it is the way of the future and provides a firm foundation for providing outstanding patient care in the ever-changing healthcare environment. As the trend is for more nurses to be in possession of a baccalaureate degree, it makes sense to be ahead of the curve and begin exploring ways to cement your future now.
Ma, Chenjuan; Garrard, Lili ; He, Jianghua. Recent Trends in Baccalaureate-Prepared Registered Nurses in U.S. Acute Care Hospital Units, 2004–2013: A Longitudinal Study. Oct.9 2017. DOI: 10.1111/jnu.12347
Institute of Medicine. The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/12956. 2011