Citing better patient outcomes and higher levels of care, healthcare leaders are calling for registered nurses (RNs) to earn bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degrees for entry-level practice.
Decades ago, an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or nursing diploma was considered sufficient to tend to patient needs. But the increasing complexity of patient health concerns, the increasing aging population and an ongoing shortage of skilled RNs underscores the importance of a BSN education. Under a 2017 law, nurses in New York are required to earn a BSN within 10 years of initial licensure.
The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) influential 2010 report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” promoted the advantages of a BSN-educated nursing workforce. The organization later recommended 80% of nurses hold a BSN degree by 2020. Many hospitals and healthcare facilities require a BSN as a minimum hiring requirement.
For RNs, the benefits of a BSN degree include higher salaries, more opportunities for career advancement and better nursing preparation for the changing healthcare environment. Programs such as Duquesne University’s RN-BSN online degree allow RNs to learn the advanced skills that come with a BSN education while still maintaining their work and personal responsibilities.
Advantages of a BSN degree
With the complexity of care involved in 21st-century nursing, the field has been transitioning from skills-based competencies to competencies based on critical thinking. Nurses must be proficient in healthcare policy, evidence-based research, teamwork and leadership, RN.com said in “Driving Factors Behind the 80% BSN by 2020 Initiative.”
Overall, the IOM (now called the National Academy of Medicine) and other health care and nursing organizations say there are a variety of reasons why you should get your BSN:
Improving Patient Outcomes
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and other nursing and healthcare organizations said there is a link between BSN degrees and improved patient outcomes, lower mortality rates and lower failure to rescue rates.
In a March 2019, The Joint Commission Journal of Quality and Patient Safety published a study that found baccalaureate-prepared nurses are better prepared than their ASN counterparts in 12 of 16 areas related to quality and safety.
Easing the Nursing Shortage
The latest U.S. Census Bureau data shows half of all Americans are over the age of 38. The aging population has a trickle-down effect on healthcare: More people are living longer but the number of patients with multiple chronic illnesses are on the rise. At the same time, the nursing workforce is aging, with nearly 51% of RNs age 50 or older and getting closer to retirement.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) estimates a nursing shortage of more than one million registered nurses by the year 2022. Many of the more experienced nurses who are retiring will take with them institutional knowledge that has helped countless patients. Nurses with BSNs are educated to fill positions left open by their retiring counterparts.
Improving Hospital Quality Through Magnet Designation
Since 1993, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which is part of the American Nurses Association (ANA), has been recognizing healthcare organizations with magnet status for excellence in nursing care. One of the qualifiers for magnet status is that nurse managers must have a BSN or graduate degree.
Magnet hospitals have greater nurse retention, improved clinical outcomes and safer work environments compared to non-magnet hospitals, American Nurse Today said in “The value of ANCC’s Magnet Recognition Program: A CNO’s perspective.”
“Based on the findings of pioneering nurse researchers more than 35 years ago, the program continues to thrive as the highest international acknowledgment of nursing excellence and a reflection of healthcare organization quality,” author Louise White, MHA, BSN, RN, said in the American Nurse Today article.
In addition, RNs are earning BSN degrees to better their career opportunities. A BSN is typically an entry position into advanced degree programs, including masters of science in nursing (MSN) programs.
BSN Success in Healthcare
BSN-educated nurses are in demand across the United States. The BLS said career opportunities for RNs are expected to grow by 15 percent by 2026, which is much higher than other professions.
“Overall, job opportunities for registered nurses are expected to be good because of employment growth and the need to replace workers who retire over the coming decade,” the BLS said in its Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Generally, registered nurses with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN) will have better job prospects than those without one.”
BSN-educated nurses also have a significant salary advantage over their colleagues who have not earned the degree. According to PayScale.com, RNs who have earned BSNs earn an average of $31 an hour, or $81,000 a year. RNs with ADNs earn an average $29 an hour or $67,000 a year.
For RNs considering a BSN, Duquesne University’s 100% RN to BSN online program offers nurses a well-rounded education that focuses on advanced nursing competencies and culturally sound practices.
About Duquesne University’s Bachelor of Science of Nursing Program
Duquesne University has been educating nurses for more than 80 years and opened Pennsylvania’s first BSN program in 1937. The University supports the BSN in 10 movement, which requires all nurses to earn a BSN within 10 years of initial licensure.
Licensed RNs can automatically earn 60 of the required 120 credit hours for the program. Those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field and are a licensed RN are only required to complete 30 credit hours to earn a BSN. Online RN-BSN students also have an opportunity to take master’s-level coursework for a head start on an MSN degree.
For more information, contact Duquesne University now.
Driving Factors Behind the 80% BSN by 2020 Initiative: RN.com
Higher pay: Nurse Journal
Top 9 Advantages of a BSN Degree: Nurse Journal
10 Reasons Why an RN Should Pursue A BSN Degree: Nurse Journal
Bachelor’s Degree Nurse Graduates Report Better Quality and Safety Educational Preparedness than Associate Degree Graduates: The Joint Commission Journal of Quality and Patient Safety
The U.S Is Running Out of Nurses: The Atlantic
Half of Americans Are Now Over the Age of 38: Bloomberg
The value of ANCC’s Magnet Recognition Program: A CNO’s perspective: American Nurse Today
BSN Degree: PayScale.com
ADN Degree: PayScale.com
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Bureau of Labor Statistics