When you are already working as a registered nurse, it can be difficult to consider adding anything else to your plate, especially a return to higher education. While an associate degree or diploma program may have helped you quickly enter the field of nursing, you will likely need to advance your degree to maximize your earning and career potential.
A Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is often the next step for many nurses and has several positive benefits. Here are five ways your career will grow with a BSN:
- BSN-Prepared Nurses Earn More Money
Nurses with a BSN generally earn more money. According to May 2021 data from PayScale, RNs with an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree earn an average annual salary of approximately $70,441. Additional PayScale data from the same timeframe indicates that nurses who have completed their BSN make $86,524 each year, on average.
- A BSN Offers More Career Advancement and Leadership Opportunities
Employers are increasingly seeking nurses who are educated at the baccalaureate level. It is expected that the BSN will become standard for entry-level positions and leadership opportunities. In 2020, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported that 41.1% of healthcare employers require new hires to have a BSN, and 82.4% of employers strongly prefer to hire BSN program graduates.
The demand for BSN-prepared nurses has gained traction since 2010, after the Institute of Medicine (IOM), now called the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), recommended that at least 80% of the nation’s nurses complete a BSN by 2020. Nurses educated at this level are associated with better patient outcomes and lower mortality. BSN coursework is also instrumental in helping nurses develop key leadership competencies to pursue administrative positions and influence how care is delivered.
- The BSN Readies Nurses for Graduate Education
If you are considering any career pathways that require graduate education, such as a nurse practitioner or a nurse educator, then a BSN brings you closer to that goal. You can complete an online RN to BSN in as few as 12 months, making you ready to pursue your graduate degree. The online format allows you to do all of this while remaining employed, which means keeping your seniority, benefits and access to any employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement.
- BSN-Prepared Nurses Have More Specialization Options
There are dozens of nursing specializations, from informatics to rheumatology. Due to the complex decision-making, patient care and technical skills required, many of these clinical specialties require a BSN. Specialty certifications are a fantastic option for nurses who do not want to pursue a graduate degree. After completing an accelerated BSN program, they can focus their efforts on earning a certification in one or more areas of interest. These positions usually come with a higher salary, too.
- A BSN Provides More Control Over Your Work Environment
Many nurses perform bedside care in hospitals and other healthcare settings. Due to long hours and shiftwork, including weekend and holiday rotations, these positions often contribute to burnout. A BSN gives you more control over when and where you work by helping you land a position that is more conducive to family life and personal well-being. BSN-prepared nurses may choose to pursue travel nursing, case management, research, consulting or even pharmaceutical sales with opportunities in both clinical and nonclinical settings. These roles may offer more scheduling flexibility, including work from home options and less rigorous hours.
A Step Ahead
Nurses already working in the field may be hesitant to continue their education beyond an associate degree. An online RN to BSN program is a short-term commitment that can quickly boost your career prospects and salary, allowing you to create a more sustainable and fulfilling work-life balance.