Bachelor Degree Completion Program (BSN)

A bachelor’s of science degree in nursing or BSN is the entry-level degree to a professional registered nursing career. While other degrees such as nursing aide and licensed practical nurse are available to students who do not want to take a full four-year degree, the BSN is considered by many to be the first level of professional nursing practitioners, while LPNs and CNAs are considered support personnel.

A nurse holding a BSN and a registered nursing license may also choose to pursue a master’s or even a doctorate in nursing at some point. However, a BSN can qualify nurses to work in hospitals and other clinical settings and often provides a good income for nursing practitioners.

What is the Difference Between a BSN and a Two-Year RN?

Both a BSN and an RN qualify nurses to work with patients. However, the BSN degree is considered by most employers to be better suited to independent nursing work such as home health care and to leadership positions such as head nurse. Employers also tend to offer higher salaries to nurses with BSN degrees than to those with RN degrees.

What Do Nurses with a BSN Earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all nurses earned a median income of $64,690 in 2010. This includes both RNs and BSNs. BSNs may tend toward the higher end of the pay scale, with a median salary of up to $95,130. Nurses in private hospitals earned the highest median salary of $66,650, while those who worked in doctor’s offices earned a median salary of $62,880. Nurses working in local public hospitals earned a median salary of $62,690, while those in home health care earned $60,690 and those in nursing care facilities earned $58,180.

What Is the Job Outlook for Nurses?

Nursing is expected to offer 26 percent more jobs by 2020 than today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth will primarily be in more specialized forms of care and in care of the elderly as the population continues to age. Outpatient care centers will also be good sources of new jobs as healthcare moves toward more cost-effective outpatient procedures rather than long and expensive hospital stays.

How Do I Earn A BSN Degree?

Many colleges offer Bachelor’s of Science degrees in Nursing through four-year programs that include classes in biology, psychology, anatomy, chemistry, behavior, and other scientifically-based areas, as well as electives in business or communication. Nurses should have strong communication skills and be able to problem solve quickly and accurately, so any classes that stress these qualities are often good electives for nurses.

Nurses may also choose to specialize. For example, a pediatric nurse works primarily with children, so child psychology classes might be appropriate for an individual who wants to study in this field.

All nursing programs include clinical components. These are rotations through various hospital departments or other clinical settings to give new nurses hands-on experience. Nurses are required to complete “clinicals” as part of the graduation requirements for most nursing programs.

All states require nurses to have a license in order to practice. This means that nurses must pass a state written examination with a sufficient score to earn licensure and must also meet any other certification requirements for that state. You can check with your state’s board of nursing to determine nursing requirements specific to your area. Most four-year programs prepare students to take these examinations.

Nursing is a challenging but very rewarding career choice. If you enjoy helping others and want to earn professional recognition for your hard work, nursing may be a good choice for you.

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