Now Is the Time to Earn Your BSN

Melyssa Johnson graduated in 2016 with an Associate Degree in Nursing. Soon after, she started working as a registered nurse (RN) at a hospital. Johnson is also on track to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in Fall 2018. Why the rush to go back to school, especially with a full-time job in hand?

Johnson's employer requires a BSN within five years of employment. Simply put, she needs a BSN to keep her job. Johnson found the online RN to BSN program she was looking for at the University of Louisiana (UL) at Lafayette. Affordable tuition and a 100-percent online format were deciding factors.

What Is Driving the Push for BSNs?

There is increasing pressure today for RNs to earn their BSN. In fact, there is a push for 80 percent of the nursing workforce to have BSNs by 2020. This recommendation is based on a report commissioned by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), now the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). For RNs thinking about earning a BSN, now is the time.

In 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs held nearly 3 million jobs. By 2026, this number is expected to reach nearly 3.4 million. This puts nursing at the top of the healthcare workforce for number of jobs, with hospitals being the largest employer.

Not surprisingly, nurses play a critical role in patient outcomes. This is the focus of the IOM's report, "The Future of Nursing." Here are just a few of the factors behind the 80 percent BSN initiative:

  • One in five people in the U.S. will be 65 or older by 2025.
  • As a result of an aging population, chronic conditions now account for most healthcare needs.
  • Nurses need higher levels of education to provide care for increasingly complex patient needs.
  • Research shows that hospitals employing more BSNs have better patient outcomes.

What Is the Time Frame for Earning a BSN?

As a result of the demonstrated benefits of a more educated nursing workforce, hospitals are increasingly requiring their nursing staff to obtain a BSN. According to NursingLicensure.org, some hospitals are now requiring new hires to have a BSN or higher.

States are getting behind the 80/20 recommendation. For example, New York State's "BSN in 10" law requires RNs to earn a BSN or higher within 10 years of licensure. Other states are expected to pursue similar legislation.

With the push for BSN-prepared nurses, the good news is that students can complete their BSN at UL Lafayette in just 12 months. UL's online program also offers flexibility, allowing students to work at their own pace. Rather than the traditional semester calendar, UL's program offers four start dates. Students can begin when they are ready.

Keeping up with homework while juggling work, family and other obligations is a common concern. But as Johnson pointed out, "It's important to know that the program is flexible. Life happens." UL Lafayette's online format means students can complete classwork any day of the week, any time. Students also take a customized orientation course that supports success in an online program.

While earning a BSN certainly takes time, the benefits go beyond quality patient care. A BSN can lead to rewarding career advancement. In "The State of Nursing 2016," Nursing.org reported that "nurses at every educational level wished they had pursued more education earlier in their careers." Courses at UL Lafayette include a focus on leadership, community health and research, paving the way for nurses who want to take their careers in new directions. 

Learn more about the UL Lafayette online RN to BSN program.


Sources:

Institute of Medicine: The Future of Nursing

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses

National Academy of Sciences: The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education

NursingLicensure.org: The Future of the Associate Degree in Nursing Program

Nurse.com: New York Governor Signs BSN in 10 Into Law for Nurses

Nursing.org: The State of Nursing 2016

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