There is more than one path to becoming a licensed registered nurse (RN). With an associate's degree as one option, why are more RNs choosing to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)? Higher salaries and healthier patients are just a start.
Dr. Helen Fox-McCloy teaches in the online RN to BSN program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. A BSN, she says, is "invaluable." While the program requires a commitment, Dr. Fox-McCloy notes, "… the rewards are even greater."
Why Go From an ADN to BSN?
It is only natural to consider whether returning to school for a BSN is worth the investment of time and money. Higher earning potential alone may be reason enough, but the value of a BSN goes well beyond a paycheck. Earning a BSN benefits both RNs and their patients. Benefits of pursing the BSN include:
- Improved Patient Outcomes: The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) summarized research linking education and quality of care. The bottom line? Care administered by RNs with a BSN correlates with better patient outcomes, including lower mortality rates.
One reason is that programs such as UL Lafayette's online RN to BSN emphasize evidenced-based practice competencies.
"Evidence-based practice is not just a term used in healthcare," notes Dr. Fox-McCloy, "but is the foundation of nursing and continues to be the key to our growth as a profession."
- Higher Salaries: A BSN can translate into a sizable increase in salary. As of June 2019, PayScale reports an average salary of $81,000 for RNs with a BSN compared with $67,000 for those with an ADN. As the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) points out, "… the more you learn, the more you earn." BLS data show that "in terms of dollars, education makes sense."
- Better Job Prospects: A BSN is becoming the standard in nursing. In fact, the BLS reports that a BSN is now the typical entry-level education for RNs. Hospitals are increasingly requiring new RN hires to have at least a BSN, and this trend is likely to continue. For working RNs with an associate degree, employers may require a BSN to continue practicing.
- Professional Growth: Top-paying specialties such as Family Nurse Practitioner require at least a master's degree in nursing. As Dr. Helen Hurst, department head and associate to the dean for the Department of Nursing at UL Lafayette advises, "You may not want to think about a graduate degree today, but completing the BSN has you ready for that option."
As with many professions, pursuing higher levels of nursing education can support and inspire new career paths. Dr. Debra White-Jefferson, coordinator of UL Lafayette's RN to BSN program, is a perfect example of this. Dr. White-Jefferson says, "When I returned to school to get my BSN, I knew then I wanted to teach."
There is undeniable value in earning a BSN. Instead of wondering whether to return to school to earn a BSN or not, the question might be, "Why wait?"
Learn more about the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's online RN to BSN program.
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