If you are considering changing your career to nursing, you may be wondering, why get a BSN? There are many benefits of a BSN in nursing, including better patient outcomes, higher pay, and diverse career options. Through Mercer ABSN, you can get your BSN in as little as 12 months.
As healthcare becomes increasingly complex, so does the work of nurses, and healthcare employers are taking notice. Over the last few decades, there has been a growing movement toward requiring registered nurses to hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
This makes starting your nursing career with a BSN degree a smart move, both in the short and long term. Today, we will explore this growing movement, along with the benefits of a BSN, so you can make an informed decision about your future career in nursing.
The Growing Movement to Require a BSN Degree to Work in Nursing
Today more than ever, a BSN degree is required to work as a nurse in top hospitals and alternative healthcare communities. To understand why the U.S. healthcare industry increasingly favors BSN-prepared nurses, it is important to go back to 2010––when the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. This landmark report was the culmination of several years assessing the nursing field and evaluating a wealth of research into what could be done to improve patient health outcomes, reduce mistakes, and elevate the profession overall, among other initiatives. Of the many goals laid out by the IOM, the most newsworthy was that 80% of registered nurses (RNs) hold a BSN by the year 2020.
While this goal has not been met, great strides have been made, and many of the IOM’s goals have been met. However, perhaps most importantly, the 80% by 2020 initiative has opened a dialogue about the need for bachelor’s-level training in this increasingly complex field.
Learn more about the important role nurses play in the healthcare field.
Why Get a BSN Degree?
Now that you have some insight into the push toward a largely BSN-educated nursing workforce, we will discuss some of the top benefits of a BSN — for you and for healthcare overall.
1. Better Patient Care Outcomes
Over the past two decades, a number of studies have examined the relationship between patient mortality rates following surgery or inpatient care and the proportion of BSN-educated nurses to staff. The findings are clear: More nurses with BSN degrees or higher translates to better, safer care. This is often attributed to the additional training BSN-educated registered nurses receive compared to associate degree-level RNs. Improved patient outcomes is one of the most important advantages of a BSN in the nursing field.
For example, students of Mercer University’s second-degree Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track learn much more than just essential nursing skills. Through a combination of online nursing theory coursework, skills and simulation labs, and clinical experiences at healthcare facilities across the Atlanta metropolitan area, Mercer ABSN students learn to care for patients holistically — mind, body, and soul — placing special emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving.
2. Better Career Opportunities
As a job seeker, compared to RNs whose highest level of education is an associate degree, BSN holders have access to more and higher-quality career opportunities. Of course, that is not to say a new BSN grad will land a nursing job over an experienced RN with an associate-level degree — after all, the experience is still valuable. However, once you get your foot in the door, you will find there are more opportunities available. As mentioned, some hospitals will only hire nurses with a BSN, while others require a BSN or higher for nurse leadership positions.
For example, in order for a hospital to achieve Magnet Recognition® from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, 100% of nurse managers must hold a BSN degree or higher. As more hospitals set their sights on the Magnet designation and more future nurses pursue BSN degrees, it is almost a given that healthcare providers will give hiring preference to nurses with a BSN.
3. Higher Pay
In most fields, a higher degree level translates to higher earning potential, and that is generally the case with nursing as well. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics makes no distinction between registered nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing versus an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), there is some data out there to support the claim that BSN-prepared nurses earn more.
For example, PayScale estimates that nurses with an ADN earn an average of $73,000 whereas nurses with a BSN earn, on average, closer to $89,000. While this will vary with years of experience and place of employment, BSN-prepared nurses have a much higher earning potential overall. And the more time you spend in the field and the further you climb the career ladder, it will become evident that BSN-educated RNs are generally paid higher salaries.
4. Career Longevity
Spurred by the thought behind IOM’s 80% by 2020 initiative, many hospitals have already adjusted their hiring policies by requiring applicants to hold a BSN degree in order to start a new job. Others have mandated specific timeframes within which RNs must earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing. In light of these growing trends, it is not difficult to foresee a time when a BSN is a requirement for RNs across the board — making starting your nursing career with a BSN a smart way to get ahead of the curve.
5. Diverse Career Options
With a BSN, you will be qualified for positions in traditional clinical settings as well as some untraditional settings. Many nurses begin their careers in a hospital, which can be a great career move, and many find they enjoy working in the hospital setting. However, some nurses find that working in the hospital doesn’t best fit their interests or desired schedules. Luckily, as a BSN-educated nurse, you have plenty of options when it comes to places of work and job descriptions.
For example, if working from home would suit your lifestyle better, you might investigate becoming a telehealth nurse. If you love working with patients but are looking for a 9-5 schedule, working in an outpatient doctor’s office might be perfect for you. And if you discover you want to try working outside of a clinical setting, you could even be a nurse for an insurance company, helping clients navigate their insurance and guiding decision-making within the company. These are just a few examples of the many options you have as a BSN-educated nurse.
6. Opens the Door for Graduate School
Another important benefit of a BSN in the nursing field is that it opens the door for you to pursue a graduate program in the future. Even if you have not considered a graduate program yet, as you progress in your nursing career you may find a niche you’d like to specialize in. Keeping this possibility open can make your life easier in the future if you do decide to go this route. After all, having a bachelor’s degree is a requirement for nursing graduate programs.
7. Flexibility of ABSN Tracks
At first it may seem that pursuing a bachelor’s degree will be challenging due to the amount of time required to complete a traditional BSN track. However, earning a BSN through an ABSN track like the one at Mercer University can be possible even sooner than a two-year ADN degree.
If you are considering a career change to nursing, you may be looking for a way to fast-track your education so you can get back into the workforce and start your career as a nurse as soon as possible. With Mercer’s Second Degree Accelerated BSN you can earn your degree in as few as 12 months.
Not to mention, our online coursework allows our students to complete their coursework as it fits into their schedules, rather than following a rigid class schedule.
See our 7 tips to help you get into an accelerated nursing track.
Earn Your BSN in as Few as 12 Months
If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, Mercer University’s 12-month Second Degree Accelerated BSN track in Atlanta, Georgia may be a faster path toward a rewarding career in nursing. Contact us today to find out if Mercer’s ABSN could be your quickest path to a career in nursing.