It’s no secret — there is currently a major nursing shortage and any licensed registered nurse (RN) should not have trouble finding employment. But that does not mean that all nursing degrees are created equal. When it comes to your nursing education, you have a choice: you can pursue an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Each degree has its benefits and drawbacks. However, a 2010 report published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) made a strong recommendation that 80 percent of the nursing workforce have a BSN, as opposed to ADN, by 2020. This recommendation has been taken very seriously, and the nursing workforce has seen a significant increase in the percentage of BSN-educated nurses in the last several years.
There are several reasons for this aggressive push for nurses to earn their BSN, not the least of which is an increased survival chance for patients who are under the care of nurses with these degrees. According to Tina Gerardi, the deputy for the Academic Progression in Nursing Programs (APIN), “research has shown a higher percentage of baccalaureate nurses on a unit reduces morbidity and mortality.”
Some argue that nurses holding an ADN are no less qualified than their fellow nurses with a BSN, but the reality is the more advanced degree will set you above your colleagues in several ways. At Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, we offer both a four-year BSN program, and a BSN Completion Program. Here are four reasons you should pursue your BSN to launch your nursing career.
Employers Want a BSN
Due in large part to the IOM report, employers are increasingly requiring a BSN to be considered for any position. Hospitals and medical centers are striving to reach the 80 percent goal and are more hesitant to take on nurses holding an ADN.
According to a study by BurningGlass.com, in a survey of 187,000 nursing positions posted over three months, the educational requirement breakdown in the posts was the following:
- Diploma or associate degree – 51%
- Bachelor's degree – 37%
- Graduate degree – 23%
- High school – 6%
This data suggests that nurses holding an ADN are eligible for 51 percent of the positions posted, while a person with a BSN is eligible for 88 percent of the listings.
Additionally, the gold standard for hospitals, is to receive the "magnet" designation from the American Nurses Association. This designation is highly coveted by hospitals, and has been given to only 400 hospitals to date. One of the key requirements for earning this magnet status is the education level of the nursing staff. Therefore, the top hospitals are all hiring nurses with a BSN or higher.
Increased Earning Potential
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that as of May 2017, the median annual wage for registered nurses was $70,000. This report does not differentiate between the pay received by nurses holding an ADN and a BSN, although according to payscale, nurses holding a BSN can expect to make more money than their two-year counterparts. The BLS also predicts that employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Although having your BSN might not make a big difference in your salary at the beginning of your nursing career, it will open doors for career advancement and therefore higher paying positions in the future.
Career Advancement Opportunities
Holding your BSN gives you the potential to begin a career in several different nursing specialities, many of which are high paying such as — nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, and clinical nurse specialist.The specialty areas require a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). However, a BSN places you one step closer to pursuing a graduate degree. Other popular nursing specialties that require a BSN include a career in pediatrics, gynecology, surgery, oncology, diabetes, psychiatry and more. It is difficult to advance beyond basic floor patient care with an ADN.
Additionally, if you hope to acquire a leadership role in your career as a nurse, you will need your BSN to accomplish this. Upper level management and leadership positions require at least a BSN, if not a graduate degree. In order to apply for any graduate nursing program, you will need to first earn your BSN degree.
Greater Knowledge and Skills
Earning your BSN over four years provides you with the opportunity to learn more than basic clinical care. You will have the opportunity to develop important skills such as communication, critical thinking, working within a team and exercising leadership.
Deciding to pursue a BSN over an ADN also has been shown in studies to better equip nurses with the skills they need to make meaningful impacts in the lives of their patients. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has conducted several studies reporting on nursing care. Some of the many benefits of a BSN degree include:
- Lower patient mortality rates
- Lower failure-to-rescue rates
- Higher proficiency at diagnoses and evaluating nursing interventions
- Improved professional integration and research/evaluation skills
Additionally, virtually all nursing specialties are reserved for those holding a BSN. If you wish to do something other than basic clinical care, employers will require you to hold the more advanced degree. If you want to specialize in a particular area or type of care, the BSN provides you with the unique training to do so.
Due to the overwhelming and immediate need for nurses, either an ADN or a BSN can get you started in the field. Those who decide to earn an ADN, will most likely need to go back to school in the future to complete a BSN program, due to the push for 80 percent of RNs to hold a four-year degree. Choosing your BSN also will allow you to earn a more competitive salary, be considered for leadership and management positions, open doors to nursing specialties, and provide you with the skills you need to provide the best possible care for your patients.
Here at Holy Family College, our BSN program is designed to do just that, setting you up for a nursing career full of success and fulfillment. There is currently no wait list for our nursing program, so download the free guide for more information, or contact our admissions department to get started on your application.