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The opportunity for upward mobility is as important in nursing as it is for any other career field. If you would like to transition into a management or leadership role, then earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree can help pave the way and make you a more enticing candidate to potential employers.

Why Is a BSN Important for Nurse Leadership?

Healthcare has gone through tremendous change over the past several decades and is expected to undergo even more transformation in the years to come. In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which changed its name to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in 2015, published a report called the Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing HealthThis report highlighted the complex and evolving healthcare landscape and provided recommendations for how nurses — especially those interested into moving into leadership roles — could address these challenges.

The report first called for 80 percent of the nursing workforce to have BSNs by 2020 to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse patient population. BSN coursework provides a greater breadth of knowledge and skills to help graduates care for patients from a range of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and the aging Baby Boomer generation who have a range of complex and chronic health conditions.

The IOM report also recognized the influential and active role of nurse leaders in modernizing the delivery of healthcare, especially under the strain of legislative reform and the renewed focus on preventive, evidence-based care. Universities were encouraged to help prepare nurses to move into leadership roles by incorporating leadership theory and business practice topics into BSN curricula.

As a result, students in the online RN to BSN program at Mississippi College delve deeper into clinical practices, while also participating in courses such as nursing informatics, research, and leadership and management theories. This coursework goes beyond the clinical knowledge typically gained in an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. Instead, a BSN program can foster overall professional and leadership development, expand the scope of nursing practice, and reiterate the unique factors and challenges, such as patients’ cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, that can influence all aspects of healthcare.

Which Employers Require a BSN for Leadership?

After taking note of the IOM recommendations and the resulting national push to expand the roles of nurses, both in patient care and leadership, more employers now either require or strongly prefer nursing candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.

A 2015 study by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) found that 47.4 percent of employers consider the BSN as the minimum acceptable education level for new hires, and 83.5 percent strongly prefer BSN-prepared nurses. These employers also express those preferences for nurse leaders and managers.

Magnet hospitals, known for their unparalleled nursing standards and patient outcomes, have also tightened their educational guidelines for new hires. The organization responsible for awarding Magnet designation, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), has updated the nursing education requirements for hospitals seeking this recognition. It is now required that all nurse managers and leaders employed by Magnet hospitals must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. This impacts nurses seeking leadership roles in any of the nation’s existing Magnet hospitals, and it also applies to nurses employed by hospitals interested in achieving Magnet designation.

Paving the Way

If you plan on pursuing leadership or management positions in nursing, earning a BSN can improve your odds of reaching your career goals. As more employers recognize the benefits associated with hiring BSN-prepared nurses, their preference for similarly educated leadership candidates may increase, too. Completing a BSN program that encompasses management theories and philosophies can put you on the fast track to the leadership position you desire.

Learn more about the MC online RN to BSN program.


American Nurses Credentialing Center: ANCC Magnet Recognition Program

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Employment of New Nurse Graduates and Employer Preferences for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses

The National Academy of Medicine: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health – Report Recommendations

ANCC: Find a Magnet Hospital

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