What’s The Difference Between an RN and a BSN?
Not all nurses follow the same career path. Some nurses might start out as a medical assistant, or another type of healthcare professional, before advancing their careers. Others come from a different field entirely, eager for the opportunity to make a difference and change lives.
Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is one way to begin a new career in nursing, but can also be a key stepping stone for experienced nurses who want to advance their careers.
Not sure if you’re ready to pursue a BSN, or confused about how to get there? We have the answers to all of your most important questions.
What is the difference between an RN and a BSN?
RN stands for registered nurse, while a BSN is a type of degree that an RN might have.
Registered nurses (RNs) play a central role in helping healthcare organizations provide quality care to a diverse and growing patient population. Their duties include administering medication, evaluating and caring for patients, and educating patients and family members. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for registered nurses (RNs) is projected to grow 15% by 2026, adding more than 400,000 new jobs.1
Today, a BSN is becoming the new educational standard for RNs, as hospitals and other healthcare organizations respond to the Institute of Medicine’s call to increase their bachelors-prepared RN staff to 80 percent by 2020. BSN-prepared RNs are more likely to be hired for a wide range of nursing positions and typically advance to leadership and management roles more quickly than a nurse with an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree.
How long does it take to become an RN with a BSN?
A BSN degree program typically takes four years to complete if you are new to nursing. However, the BSN program for new nurses at Herzing University can be completed in three years or less. ASN-prepared nurses might consider Herzing’s RN to BSN online program to earn their BSN in as little as one year.
Many nurses with a BSN choose to continue their education through a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program, which opens the door to leadership positions in the nursing field.
Note: All RNs, no matter the degree they’ve earned, must pass the NCLEX exam in order to become a licensed nurse.
What kinds of careers can RNs have?
RNs can practice in a variety of different healthcare settings, including hospitals, outpatient care centers, long-term care facilities, doctor’s offices, and more. Additionally, RNs can become many different types of nurses and specialize in niche nursing areas, like oncology, anesthesiology, pediatrics or surgery. For some specialties, you might need to pursue additional training or certification.
What careers can RNs with a BSN have?
As more new nurses join the workforce, healthcare organizations must rely on skilled and experienced nursing leaders to guide them in achieving the highest quality of care. For many BSN nurses, this opens up the opportunity to move into leadership positions, such as nurse manager.
BSN-prepared nurses also have the opportunity to continue their education in an MSN program. Earning your MSN allows you to advance your nursing career and expand your scope of practice in specialties like family practice, nursing education and leadership and administration.
What RN positions are paid the most?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for registered nurses is $75,510 per year, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $100,000.1 BSN-prepared nurses might have the opportunity to advance into higher-paying leadership and management roles more quickly.
How much you make as an RN will vary based on your state of employment and the type of environment you work in. Data from the BLS shows that RNs working for the government had the highest median annual salaries in 2018.1 Other top employers were hospitals, ambulatory healthcare providers, educational institutions, as well as nursing and residential care facilities.
Which nursing path is right for you?
That depends on where you see yourself in the nursing field and how much time you want to spend earning your degree. For example, if you would like to eventually pursue your MSN, earning a BSN would be the best place for you to start. If you’d like to enter the nursing workforce as soon as possible, you might opt for an associate degree program, which will require less time in school and allow you to gain work experience faster.
Choosing a BSN degree pathway
There several different pathways you can take to a BSN degree, depending on your prior nursing experience and your education.
- If you are new to nursing, you can begin your nursing education in a BSN program, which will take up to three years to complete. The program will prepare you to take your NCLEX and become a licensed RN.
- If you are already an RN with your associate degree in nursing, you could earn your BSN in less than a year through an online RN-BSN program if you decide to go back to school full-time.
- If you are another licensed healthcare professional, such as an LPN or paramedic, you can participate in various bridge programs to earn your BSN. Discover the difference between LPN and RN and learn more about our LPN to RN-BSN program and Paramedic to RN-BSN bridge option.
- If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a different field, you might be eligible for an accelerated BSN program that you can finish in as little as 16 months.
Whether you’re just starting your nursing career, working in the healthcare field, or transitioning from a career in a different field, our nursing degree pathways can help you get to where you want to be.