Going on a Bachelor Degree In Nursing (BSN)

The associate degree in nursing (ADN) takes two years, and many RNs currently practicing in the US begin their careers with an ADN. A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) takes four years and is more expensive. Both ADN- and BSN-prepared registered nurses take the same licensing exam, and in many cases, make the same salary. So why would an RN want to go on for a BSN degree?


BSN programs include considerably more than an ADN program. In addition to the usual course work covered in an ADN or diploma program, a BSN program provides in-depth treatment of physical and social sciences. BSN courses also cover nursing research, public and community health, nursing management and humanities courses. BSN students are prepared for leadership roles and have a better understanding of cultural, political, economic and social issues that can affect patients directly and may have an influence on health care delivery. The BSN is considered the minimum preparation for leadership and educational roles, and may increase job opportunities as well as the ability to specialize in the field.

A recent graduate who has many years to practice would be well-advised to obtain a BSN. There is good evidence that BSN-prepared nurses have a positive impact on patient safety. Hospitals with a higher percentage of BSN nurses have lower mortality rates and patients have fewer complications. Although there has long been pressure to make the BSN the minimum preparation for a registered nurse, this research adds supporting data. Some organizations now prefer or require a BSN, and expect their staff nurses to go back to school if they hold an ADN.

Each BSN program has specific requirements; tuition varies and programs offer different options, such as online course offerings, part-time education and flexible scheduling for the working RN. It’s not easy completing a BSN on top of job and family demands. The student must budget time and juggle responsibilities for at least two years. Some schools offer “fast-track” programs, which can cut the time required. These programs are even more intensive and demanding than the usual BSN program, but they can cut a year or more off the time required to obtain a BSN.

Financing a BSN program may be one of the biggest hurdles. However, most programs offer financial assistance and student loans. Scholarships may be available. Since the student already has a job, it might be worthwhile to spend a year saving while cutting other expenses to the minimum in order to obtain funding for education. Many nurses continue to work full or part-time to finance their BSN education.

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2016-25447 Exp. 10/17