In 2010, the National Academy of Medicine (previously known as the Institute of Medicine) released The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, a landmark report that contained “recommendations for an action-oriented blueprint for the future of nursing.” This forward-thinking document included the goal of increasing the number of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80% by the year 2020.
There was conscious intent behind the recommendations. For example, with the average human lifespan getting longer and an increasing number of people living with chronic diseases, nurses with advanced knowledge and elevated skill sets are in high demand.
Although they have not yet met the ambitious goal, it has nevertheless directly impacted career opportunities. According to a 2021 survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 40.6% of hospitals and healthcare centers will only hire nurses with Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees, up from 30.1% just ten years prior.
Data also reveals that 77.4% strongly prefer BSN-prepared candidates. Job placement opportunities are higher for BSN graduates within four to six months of graduation compared to those with a Registered Nurse (RN) degree alone.
Today, a BSN degree opens more doors. It provides more options for nurses who wish to explore new specialties or those who simply want to advance their careers into supervisory and management positions. It’s the first step toward higher educational goals, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Nurse Practitioner degree. Without a doubt, a BSN education also increases a nurse’s earning potential.
Making the Move
A BSN degree is essential for many career paths. Several specialties, in particular, favor BSN-prepared candidates, such as oncology, pediatrics, psychiatry, community health, obstetrics and gynecology.
The demands of these specialties require the knowledge and experience gained from a BSN. Nurses will find that education opens doors for more career possibilities. Fortunately, it is now easier to pursue a degree program with online courses.
Career advancement requires more significant levels of academic accomplishment, and the BSN sets nurses on the path to an MSN or Nurse Practitioner degree. With a focus on specific patient populations, providing primary care to a variety of patients or making contributions through research, nurse practitioners build on their BSN with an MSN or doctorate degree. Education and experience create the foundation for excellent patient care.
Education is another growing field for nurses with advanced degrees. Nurse educators have a uniquely influential position. They bring real-world experience to the classroom or hospital setting, helping shape the next generation of nurses. As with the nurse practitioner, the nurse educator builds on their BSN, earning a master’s or doctorate.
An RN with a BSN education can expect to make 6% more on average than an RN with only an associate degree. Although pay varies by facility and position, there is little doubt that earning a BSN can increase your earning potential.
A few of the highest-paying jobs for nurses with their BSN include pharmaceutical RNs, who earn $84,348 a year on average (per ZipRecruiter), and Nurse Administrators, who can earn an average of $96,487 a year (per Salary.com). Plus, the know-how acquired through BSN education improves nurses’ ability to better serve their patients in any setting.
For working nurses looking to become part of the growing cohort of BSNs, an online RN to BSN program such as that offered by Youngstown State University can help increase your knowledge base as you prepare to take on greater responsibilities and contribute to the overall quality of care. With a focus on evidence-based medicine and real-world application of core coursework, you will graduate from the program with your BSN in hand, ready to take on any challenge.