Is RN to BSN Worth It? 9 Reasons to Consider Advancing Your Nursing Education
You’ve been working as a registered nurse (RN) for a while now and your experience has only solidified your passion for the job. You love the fact that you get to truly help people—and even when the shifts are tough, you know your work is meaningful.
There are so many reasons nurses invest so much of themselves in their work. And there are so many reasons nurses decide to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Everything from passion for learning, potential for career advancement and interest in nursing leadership is on the table when it comes to continued nursing education.
Going from RN to BSN can be intimidating, which is why you probably have some questions. Will I be able to juggle school and work? Is going from RN to BSN worth the extra investment? What will change when I have my BSN?
Even without a crystal ball, we can still safely say there are plenty of benefits to furthering your education as a nurse. But discovering if this is a good move for you will be a more personal journey. To help you make the best decision possible, we connected with some nursing pros to identify nine advantages for RNs who choose to pursue a BSN.
9 Reasons why you should consider an RN to BSN program
1. You’ll qualify for more jobs
The nursing field is on the rise, with employment of registered nurses projected to grow 12 percent through 2028, a rate much faster than the national average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1 However, the BLS also notes that while the industry is opening more nursing jobs each year, nursing students are also increasing, keeping the job pool competitive.
As the aging baby boomer generation grows to need more medical care, nurses will likely be called upon in greater number than ever before.1 The BLS notes that in the fray, BSN nurses will have better job prospects. BSN nurses with experience working in the field or with certification in specialty areas should have the best chances of all.
That extra edge can be the difference between working in the location you want or for the employer you prefer.
2. You may have higher earning potential
Our nursing experts agree that generally speaking, the higher the nursing credential you receive, the more earning potential you could have. And since many healthcare systems are incentivized to hire BSN nurses, many employers offer more competitive salaries at that level of education.
Deborah Carlson, RN, BSN, BST and director of nursing at Boynton Health Service, says many hospitals pay higher salaries to nurses with a BSN. This earning potential could also increase throughout your career if you choose to advance to leadership positions.
“The BSN will also figure into decisions about promotions and professional growth,” says Wendie A. Howland, seasoned nurse and owner of Howland Health Consulting. As your experience and expertise grow, opportunities for leadership, specialty work and management can grow too—coming with new job titles and increased salary opportunity.
3. It can open doors for your career
You probably enrolled in nursing school to become a nurse, but there are many different nursing specialties you can pursue once you have some experience under your belt. Certain specialty positions—like a nurse anesthetist, nurse educator or case management nurse—require you to have a BSN at minimum.
“BSN degrees are preferred for most nursing positions, especially in specialty areas,” says Holly Mancini, instructor at Rasmussen College School of Nursing. “Nurses that are starting out in specialty areas such as critical care, emergency nursing, wound care and so on need a wider knowledge base to perform their jobs efficiently and effectively.” The chance to devote more time to what you love about the job is a huge potential benefit of the BSN.
Plus, if do you have any ambitions of moving into a leadership position—like a becoming a Nurse manager—a BSN will eventually be necessary.
4. Courses are flexible
Many RN to BSN programs are offered online. Since these programs cater to working nurses, whose schedules are unpredictable, they are designed with a ton of flexibility in mind.
Many of these online courses will allow you to participate in the discussion, lectures and assignments within certain time frames. If you can’t be online until night time, or if you have to do your coursework in the morning before your shift begins—many programs are organized to accommodate that. Rasmussen College’s RN to BSN program, for example, is offered in a fully online, competency-based format, which allows students to control the pace of how they tackle their coursework—if they know they have a busy stretch in their schedules, they can choose to work ahead during times where their schedules are more accommodating. This added flexibility helps make it easier to balance a busy work and school schedule.
5. They can be completed as few as 12 to 18 months
You may be surprised to hear you can complete an RN to BSN nursing program in as few as 12 to 18 months.2 There’s no need to wait years and years to take the next step in your career—you can knock this work out in relatively short order.
“These programs are primarily online classes, which provide the flexibility and convenience that working nurses need,” says Rasmussen College Nursing instructor Dina Waltz.
6. It will round out your skill set
Unlike Associate’s degree-level Nursing courses, which focus heavily on hands-on clinical skills, your RN to BSN courses will help you acquire a more holistic understanding of nursing.
“Through the BSN program, the ADN nurse will learn more about leadership roles and community health, which is all valuable knowledge when advancing in the nursing field,” Mancini says.
The curriculum is designed to sharpen your leadership skills and develop communication and problem-solving abilities that can help you excel in the workplace.
“Nurses who go back to school for their BSN learn the ‘Why?’ of what they are doing instead of just how to do it,” Carlson says. She finds these nurses have better assessment skills and know how to delegate, manage and develop others.
7. It positions you for more leadership opportunity
For some of the reasons listed above, BSN nurses have more opportunities for leadership in their units and beyond. BSN nurses have the training and potential to become charge nurses, managers and educators in their jobs according to Mancini.
Nurses with a BSN will still be tasked with the usual duties associated with the profession, such as taking vitals, recording symptoms and educating patients on how to manage their illnesses. But a BSN will afford you the opportunity to pursue specializations, senior-level positions and leadership roles within the organization.
8. You’ll be ahead of the mandate
There is currently a movement among healthcare leaders and lawmakers to increase the education required of RNs. Several states have submitted bills proposing an initiative called “BSN in Ten” with New York’s bill being the first to pass. While the specifics may vary depending on the state, these proposed laws would require nurses to obtain their BSNs within ten years of beginning their practice.
Even if the state you live in doesn’t have a “BSN in Ten” law in the books, there is clearly some momentum behind the movement as healthcare providers and lawmakers aim to raise the standards for nursing training and education.
9. You’ll improve as a nurse
Nursing (and healthcare in general) progresses quickly as new technologies and research become available. You learn so much on the job, but what nurse has the time to really digest major industry changes, let alone think critically about how the system could improve? Education gives you that space.
“Better education makes you better at what you do,” says Howland. And when you are better at the job, you save more lives. Patient outcomes correlate with the amount of education a nurse has completed, according to a 2003 study on the impact of nursing education on patient outcomes. Patients who were cared for by RNs with BSNs experienced lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates.3
Take advantage of the opportunity
Whether you are looking for ways to enhance your career, deepen your nursing skills or become eligible for the positions you most want, a BSN can be your answer. But if you are asking, “Is an RN to BSN worth it?” then the benefits are only one side of the equation. You probably also want to know what it will cost.
What kind of investment will an RN to BSN program be? What will the education be like? Can you talk to someone about your situation? Check out Rasmussen College’s RN to BSN degree page to learn more.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2015 and has since been updated. Insights from Carlson and Howland remain from the original.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [information accessed June 11, 2020] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and include workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Time to complete is dependent on accepted transfer credits and number of courses completed each term.
3Aiken LH, Clarke SP, Cheung RB, Sloane DM, Silber JH., JAMA, Educational Levels of Hospital Nurses and Surgical Patient Mortality. [information accessed November 27, 2018] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/197345