How an RN to BSN Program Will Differ from Your ADN Experience

woman in scrubs working on laptop

Becoming a nurse is anything but easy. Earning your Associate’s degree in Nursing (ADN) was a challenge and even though you’re interested in earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, you’re not so sure you have the time and resources to devote to going back to school. The good news is that nowadays there are RN to BSN online programs designed to fit the needs of registered nurses who want to earn their BSN but don’t necessarily want to put the rest of their life on hold in the meantime.

Being the type of person who likes to research first before diving in, you’re probably wondering what you should expect in an RN to BSN program—and how it might differ from your first go-around in nursing school. Though we can’t speak for all RN to BSN programs, we dug into the details of the Rasmussen University RN to BSN program to give a glimpse of what your life might look like as you earn your BSN.

Can I work as an RN while earning a BSN?

Ultimately, this is up to you and how quickly you’d like to finish your degree, but the short answer is yes! If you attempted to work while earning your ADN, you know that scheduling could be a real challenge with on-campus coursework and clinicals to fit into your routine. The good news is that Rasmussen University’s RN to BSN is fully online, and the two required practicum experiences can be completed in your own community on your schedule.

Additionally, Rasmussen University’s online Empowered Learning™ courses can provide even further flexibility for maintaining a work schedule. In this competency-based education format, you can choose to spread your coursework out evenly over the course of a term or load up on coursework in shorter concentrated periods of time—as long as the work is complete by the end of the term, you’ll have control over how it gets done.

Rasmussen University RN to BSN program alum Mary Soligny worked as a pediatric home care nurse while enrolled—and that’s on top of also running a horse-boarding business and being a mother of five. 

Needless to say, Soligny had a lot on her plate during that time—and she credits the flexibility of the Rasmussen University RN to BSN online program for helping her manage it all. “When I ran into issues with work, I could focus on them first, and then hit the books when it was more convenient for me,” Soligny says.

What will I learn in my RN to BSN program?

As an ADN, you know how to perform many vital procedures, but as a BSN student you’ll learn the deeper “Why?” and the science behind the things you do every day as a nurse. Here’s a sampling of the RN to BSN courses you’ll find at Rasmussen University:

  • Public Health Nursing
  • Integration of Genetics and Genomics into Ethical Nursing Practice
  • Emerging Healthcare Technologies and Innovation
  • Leadership and Management
  • Global Health

The program also places an emphasis on Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) competencies. Many nurse educators believe that integrating these practices into nursing curriculum will help nursing students provide better patient care. Additionally, the RN to BSN curriculum emphasizes:

  • Patient-centered care
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Quality improvement
  • Safety
  • Informatics

Your hands-on nursing experience will enrich your learning in an RN to BSN program for both yourself and your students. In online RN to BSN programs, you’ll be interacting with other nurses from throughout the entire country. Soligny found that through weekly online discussions, her fellow students’ experiences helped broaden her knowledge and world view.

“These interactions ultimately helped me become a better nurse today.” 

How will an online RN to BSN program differ from my on-campus ADN experience?

Earning a degree completely online can be intimidating—from new technology to academic support and creating a new study schedule. You still want to feel connected and supported, but with the freedom to study whenever and wherever. What will you get with an online RN to BSN program?

Increased flexibility

With an online RN to BSN program, you’ll have increased flexibility. No more long commutes to class during rush hour or trouble searching for parking spots on a busy campus. You’ll be free to spend your days or evenings with your kiddos or working a job you love. Instead of being tied down by strict class schedules, you’ll be able to design your own study plan. Soligny says she took full advantage of the online format.

“As a single mom, one of the coolest things was being able to bring school with me wherever I went,” she says. “Whether waiting at the orthodontist for my son, in the lobby at my daughter’s gymnastics practice or even on a family vacation, all I had to do was open up my laptop. There was something very empowering about carrying college with me!”

More online support

Even though you won’t be completing your coursework on campus, you’ll still have access to the same support on-campus students do, including live chat assistance with Rasmussen University librarians, access to trained student tutors, writing resources and a host of resources developing strong study strategies.

If you’ve never been an online student, it may seem intimidating to be so dependent on less-than-familiar technology. School of Nursing Learning Services Coordinator Kristie Keuntjes understands, but also believes the sooner you embrace it the better.

“It can really make your life a lot easier,” Keuntjes says.

Soligny did just that when she started in the RN to BSN program. A lot of technology had changed since she last went to school and she was admittedly a little nervous.

“I had spent the last three decades raising my five children and running an agricultural business—computers were not my thing.” Despite those concerns, Soligny says a little patience and the support of her instructors helped her get comfortable navigating an online classroom.

“Trust me, if this computer-phobe can do it, you can too!” Soligny says.

Can I afford an RN to BSN program? 

Though that’s a question only you can answer, Rasmussen University does provide opportunities for you to potentially save on your overall costs. The RN to BSN Get Started Grant can help you save a total of up to $8,685 on tuition and fees.* This grant includes tuition for your first course and up to five self-directed assessment attempts for RN to BSN students at no charge.* These interactive assessment opportunities allow you to use your nursing experience to earn course credit—the more you successfully complete, the more you can potentially save on schooling.

Whether you take advantage of these options or not, it’s important to remember that your education is truly an investment in your future for both yourself and your patients. For Soligny, the choice to invest in her future resulted in her starting a new nursing job as part of a burn unit—something she was drawn to after witnessing a close friend and firefighter recover from severe burns.

“Rasmussen University was 100 percent worth it and I reap the rewards every day.” 

Is a BSN really worth it?

While earning a BSN is not yet a universal standard for nurses, more and more healthcare providers are hiring ADN nurses expecting that they will return to school for their BSN. But more importantly than employers’ standards is your internal motivation for earning a BSN. Do you want to work in a new-to-you specialty unit like labor and delivery, intensive care or the emergency department? Or are you aiming to go even further in your schooling with plans of pursuing advanced practice nursing positions that require a graduate-level education?

No matter what your end goal is, earning your BSN will build on your experience—providing you with the “Why?” behind the procedures you perform every day and giving you a keener eye when observing and taking care of even the sickest patients.

Though an RN to BSN program can be a rigorous commitment, Soligny says it was completely manageable as long as you stayed organized and disciplined. “The best things are always worth the effort,” she says.

If you’re curious about what exactly you’ll be learning while earning your BSN, find out in our article “RN to BSN Online Courses: What You Can Expect.”

*Terms and conditions apply. Visit the RN to BSN Get Started Grant page for more details.

Kirsten Slyter

Kirsten is a Content Writer at Collegis Education where she enjoys researching and writing on behalf of Rasmussen University. She understands the difference that education can make and hopes to inspire readers at every stage of their education journey.


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