I’m an ADN Nurse … Is a BSN Worth It?

female nurse looking out window

This isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve put in plenty of long shifts on your feet, rushing from patient to patient as your seemingly endless to-do list keeps growing. As a registered nurse (RN) with an Associate’s degree, you’ve coolly seen and dealt with things most new nursing students would wince at. That experience means something.

So when the topic of earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) comes up, you probably have some questions. Most prominently, is earning a BSN worth it? After all, nursing school wasn’t a walk in the park the first time around, and college is a big commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

There’s certainly a lot to consider. To help you get a better perspective on the value of earning a BSN, we asked an experienced nurse who once faced the same decision to offer her thoughts.

So, is a BSN worth it for me?

The short answer? Maybe. There’s a lot of good that can come from pursuing a BSN, but depending on your situation, it might not always be the right move. Rasmussen University Nursing instructor Holly Mancini believes that while all ADN nurses could benefit from the additional skills and knowledge that come with earning a BSN, nurses still need to consider where they’re at in their careers.

“Veteran nurses may not feel as though a BSN is necessary if they are reaching a point where they’re considering retirement,” Mancini says.

Additionally, an established ADN nurse who is comfortable staying long-term in their current role may not find it necessary—particularly if they are aligned with their employer’s expectations for the future. That said, there are still several good reasons for considering a BSN. Let’s take a closer look at a few of them.

6 Compelling reasons to consider earning a BSN

1. Employer expectations

While it’s not necessarily a universal industry standard, many healthcare providers will hire ADN nurses with the expectation that they eventually return to school and complete a BSN program.

“When I graduated with my ADN and started my first job as a medical/surgical nurse in a local community hospital, the need for me to earn a BSN degree by 2018 was included in the [employment] contract,” Mancini says.

2. Clearing career-advancement roadblocks

Even if a BSN isn’t contractually obligated, not pursuing one could throw a wrench into the gears of your nursing career trajectory.

“Normally, when an ADN nurse is hired, there is an assumption that they will earn a BSN degree within a reasonable amount of time to prepare the nurses for advancement within their roles or to transition into specialty care areas,” Mancini says.

Even if you’re planning to stay put in your current nursing focus area, advancement opportunities like becoming a charge nurse or nurse manager may be harder to reach without a BSN. Remember, you’re not just competing with your coworkers, but also every nurse willing to apply for these advanced positions.

3. Improving patient outcomes

This point isn’t meant as a slight against ADN nurses—they do an excellent job providing day-to-day patient care. But studies do show improvement in patient outcomes at hospitals with a higher percentage of BSN nurses.1 Some of that improvement can be credited to BSN nurses having a stronger grasp of pharmacology, disease processes, health assessments and evidence-based nursing practice.

“Since BSN nurses have the knowledge to understand research and informatics, they can really partake in the decision-making process when implementing new evidence-based interventions to promote the best patient outcomes and continue to evaluate and modify them for effectiveness,” Mancini says.

4. Competitive specialization opportunities

If you have your sights set on a competitive nursing specialization like labor and delivery, intensive care, emergency care or perioperative nursing, earning a BSN can help put you on a level playing field. While it’s not impossible for an ADN nurse to land one of these positions, it can be considerably more difficult.

Imagine an employer is looking to fill one of these popular specialty roles. They likely have a long list of qualified candidates and a short timeline to get the position filled. So what’s an easy way to filter down their options? Educational attainment. Earning a BSN could help ensure you’re on the right end of that cut off.

5. Deeper foundational knowledge

Resuscitation. Starting IVs. Wound care. Drawing blood. An ADN nursing education prepares you to be an excellent doer. But the next level of nursing care is understanding more about why these tasks are done, and the underlying science behind the treatment plans driving them.

Understanding why something is ordered can add an extra layer of patient protection. Additionally, if you’re the type of person who dislikes being told to do something without hearing a good reason for doing it, this deep level of understanding can help with your personal job satisfaction.

6. A step closer to graduate-level nursing jobs

Maybe you’d like to someday become the person who trains future generations of nurses or manages a facility’s entire nursing staff. Or perhaps you just have your sights set on becoming an advanced practice nurse. No matter your ultimate goal, these positions typically require a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or other graduate-level education. Attaining these degrees means you’ll need to have earned a BSN along the way.

Is earning a BSN right for you?

It isn’t easy to choose to go back to school to earn a BSN when you’re comfortably working as a registered nurse. That’s why it’s so important to understand the appeal of a BSN and whether or not it fits your career plans.

It might not be for everyone, but if you think earning a BSN can help you achieve your professional goals and are ready to make the jump, the good news is there are options that allow you to earn your BSN online in as few as 18 months.2 Check out the Rasmussen University RN to BSN program page to learn more.

1Blegen, M. A., Goode, C. J., Park, S. H., Vaughn, T., & Spetz, J. (2013). Baccalaureate Education in Nursing and Patient Outcomes. JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration.
2Completion time is dependent on number of transfer credits accepted and courses completed each term.

Will Erstad

Will is a Sr. Content Specialist at Collegis Education. He researches and writes student-focused articles on a variety of topics for Rasmussen University. He is passionate about learning and enjoys writing engaging content to help current and future students on their path to a rewarding education.

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