RN to BSN Programs

In 1909, the University of Minnesota set a new standard in the training of nurses by introducing the Bachelor's degree of Science in Nursing (BSN), which is typically a four year program. However, a shortage of nurses during World War II led to the development of the Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN), which is only a two year program. While an ADN is sufficient to become a Registered Nurse (RN), obtaining a BSN opens up many more opportunities career-wise.

The ADN is a good starting point for many nurses, mainly due to the shorter time frame and lower cost. However, many don't consider this an ending point, but rather as a jumping off point for a lifetime of learning and advancement.

The Advantages of a BSN

An Associate's Degree in Nursing will prepare a nurse to use a broad base of practical nursing knowledge, but it does have its limitations. The application of this knowledge is best suited for structured settings and situations with well defined policies and procedures. For example, most ADN programs won't teach a nurse how to use or put clinical research into practice.

With the current nursing climate, higher degrees of nursing skills are being required. For example, in the majority of rural or low income areas, nurse anesthetist are the ones administering anesthesia. Additionally, many nurse practitioners are filling the roles that primary care physicians used to fill. The ADN simply does not prepare a nurse to fulfill these more demanding roles, while a BSN provides additional training and research that will allow the nurse to move into such positions.

Additionally, whether the perception is justified or not, nurses with the BSN are accorded more respect than their counterparts with an ADN. This may be due to the fact that most other health care professionals, dietitians, physical therapists, social worker, radiologists and the like, are all required to have a Bachelor's Degree or higher as an entry level qualification.

Also, as older nurses retire, there will be a vacancy in leadership and teaching roles that will be better filled by those with at least a BSN. This will allow nurses to move into other career paths, while an ADN may limit a nurse's options.

RN to BSN Degree Programs

There are a vast multitude of RN to BSN programs, including various online options. For many, if not most, they do not require that the student quit nursing to spend two full years in school as a full time student. Although that is an option, it is generally possible to complete the requirements gradually.

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As part of a typical program, 50 to 70 hours of clinical time should be expected. With an online program, that can often be completed in whichever state the nurse is licensed in, possibly at their current place of employment. However, there may be limitations on the type of clinical experience required. For example, if the online program requires that the clinical experience is for a public health nursing course, then it may be necessary to complete that at a school clinic, a public health clinic, or a similar site. If the nurse currently works in a hospital, they may not be allowed to complete the requirement there.

Choosing an RN to BSN Program

For such reasons, if an online RN to BSN program is considered, it’s an important question to be discussed when talking to the schools. If taking the courses in a traditional campus setting, it is also important to know whether the current place of employment would qualify for clinical experience, or if it will need to be completed in another location.

Online RN to BSN Programs

As with so many things, it is of great benefit to shop around. It would be good to compare several options, if they are available locally. If the local selection is limited, online programs are a viable alternative. Caution should be exercised, as not all programs are created equal. However, by comparing the programs, a good option should present itself.

Another benefit to some online programs is that they can be completed at whatever pace the student is comfortable with. This can be especially important if the student is currently employed and would like to keep that job. Interestingly, according to a 2009 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, students who do some or all of their coursework online perform slightly better than students who do all their work in a face to face classroom setting.

Regardless of how it is accomplished, moving from RN to BSN can be extremely valuable, both to the student and to their patients. Better training and more education will open up a greater variety of career options and all the nurse to better meet the increasingly complex needs of today's patients.


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