What Does a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing Mean to You?
If you are a registered nurse with an associate degree (ASN), you might be feeling some pressure to obtain your bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN).
If you are a registered nurse with an associate degree (ASN), you might be feeling some pressure to obtain your bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). In 2008, the Institute of Medicine released a report recommending that 80 percent of the RN workforce have a BSN by 2020, causing many hospitals to reevaluate their criteria for hiring new nurses. If you work in a hospital that is seeking Magnet recognition, you have probably noticed that Magnet hospitals usually hire only BSN prepared nurses or those who are committed to going back to school.
“Why is this so important?” you ask. “I’m a good nurse!”
Job security. In order for an institution to qualify for Magnet status, all nurse managers must have their bachelor of science in nursing. While Magnet status does not require staff nurses to obtain their BSN, 49 percent of registered nurses employed at Magnet facilities are BSN-prepared, compared to only 30 percent of registered nurses at non-Magnet facilities. In addition, research shows that hospitals with higher percentages of BSN-RNs on their nursing staff produce better patient outcomes. That means that aspiring Magnet hospitals are likely to hire more BSN-prepared nurses, and you can increase your chances of employment—or feel more secure in your current job—by getting your BSN.
Higher income. It is true that getting a BSN is more expensive than getting your ASN. However, it has been shown that nurses with higher-level degrees earn higher incomes, so you can expect a better financial return on your investment if you choose to pursue your bachelor of science in nursing degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a registered nurse is $70,000 per year ($33.65 per hour) and registered nurse positions are expected to grow 15% from 2016-2026. The average salary of an RN with a bachelor's degree will trend higher than nurses with an associate’s degree only.
A global perspective. While your associate degree prepared you well for hospital nursing, it did not address national and global health policy and issues. As nurses navigate new cultural landscapes and bureaucratic challenges of the 21st century, it is crucial that they develop a broad understanding of their role in the community, national and world health.
Community involvement. Unlike BSN programs, associate degree programs do not require community nursing coursework. As the focus of patient care shifts from acute care to prevention models, a nurse’s role expands to health education and advocacy, community care, agency collaboration and political and social reform. Even if you never plan to be a community health nurse, it is essential for you to understand your evolving role in the community and how you can provide holistic care for your patients.
Leadership skills. Good leaders aren’t born—they’re made! A bachelor of science in nursing prepares you for future leadership roles by introducing management and organizational theories that will allow you to take initiative in a variety of roles. In addition, you’ll learn about quality improvement, cost-wise decision making and outcomes evaluation, which are all essential skills for today’s nursing leaders.
Evidence-based practice. Do you know how to translate research into practice? Your bachelor’s degree gives you the ability to critically evaluate new research, thus making you a more effective nurse. Nancy Bergstrom’s multi-site study of the Braden scale is an example of how nurses can use research to affect patient care practice. Through her research, Bergstrom found the Braden scale was an effective strategy for predicting pressure sore risk. Today, the Braden scale is widely used to prevent skin breakdown.
Herzing’s RN-BSN program is completely online, enabling students to complete the program at their own pace. Herzing also offers a flexible transfer credit policy, competitive program pricing and a dual credit option that allows students to earn credits toward their MSN degree while completing their bachelor’s degree. That’s a great time and money saver!
Susan Austin, MSN, RN is the Program Chair for Herzing’s RN-BSN Online. She has been with Herzing University for 10+ years, most recently at the Akron Campus, where she was nursing faculty and the Nursing Department Chair. She graduated in 1987 an MSN from Case Western Reserve University where she had a Nurse-Midwifery concentration. Subsequently, she practiced as a Certified Nurse-Midwife for 20 years and taught in various diploma and Bachelor’s degree nursing programs prior to coming to Herzing.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.