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What Is an RN to BSN Program?

RN to BSN programs are designed to help working nurses achieve their career goals. These educational bridge programs allow RNs with a diploma or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

If a BSN is not required for your current job and you are satisfied with your nursing career, you may feel that going back to school is not worth the time or effort. But if your goal is to move up the nursing career ladder -- particularly into management or specialized areas of medicine -- earning a BSN is the gateway to opportunity.

Why Are RN to BSN Programs so Popular?

RN to BSN programs are a win for both nurses and healthcare employers. They help RNs enhance their knowledge and skills, and that helps to ensure that patients are receiving quality care. Innovative programs in online education have also expanded the reach and enrollment numbers of RN to BSN programs over the last decade, in response to high demand for BSN nurses across the country.

Many hospitals and healthcare systems are working toward a common goal of employing 80 percent BSN nurses, because research has shown this practice improves patient outcomes and reduces costs. One perk of this preference for the BSN among healthcare employers however, is that many offer tuition benefits for RNs who want to attain the degree.

Fast Facts About RN to BSN Programs

If you have been curious about how these programs work and what you might actually study, here are some fast facts about this innovative educational option for nurses:

  • RN to BSN programs typically require two years of coursework, which means students take around 30 credit hours of classes. Some schools offer courses in a traditional classroom setting, but many programs are exclusively online.
  • Online RN to BSN programs offer the most flexibility, allowing students to complete coursework at a pace based on their time and budget. Accelerated  programs give motivated students the chance to complete the coursework in as few as 12 months.
  • RN to BSN students learn nursing theory, study scientific research, community health nursing and disaster preparedness, and develop their leadership skills. They also take traditional academic subjects such as English, history and biology. Each student's actual degree plan depends on the amount of transfer credits they can apply to meet program requirements.
  • In addition to studying the core nursing curricula, students collaborate with professors and fellow nursing students on meaningful projects. They work in groups on a number of key assignments, and contribute to healthcare initiatives that promote wellness and improve patient outcomes.
  • RN to BSN programs range in price, but most have fixed tuition rates that allow students to project the total cost of the degree based on the number of credit hours required. Tuition rates are set by credit hour, so a standard three-hour-per-week course will therefore cost the credit hour rate times three.
  • State- and government-based financial aid programs are available to RN to BSN students studying at accredited schools. Tuition installment payment plans are often available as well.

Is the BSN Right for Me?

While there are a number of reasons that BSN prepared RNs are making career strides, the decision to go back to school is a highly personal one. Education can be a path to the life you envision, but it's important to have a goal in mind.

If you are currently a diploma or ADN RN, an online RN to BSN program is worth considering. Whether your desire is to meet employer requirements at your current job, increase your salary, or expand your career options, getting your BSN is the first step to achieving your goal.

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


The Journal of Nursing Administration: Baccalaureate Education in Nursing and Patient Outcomes

American Journal of Nursing: Bachelor's Degrees Not Only Save Lives, They Save Hospitals Money

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice

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