Nursing students who are weighing their options for earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing might ask the question, “What is the value of a BSN?” It’s a fair question. After all, they want to make sure a bachelor’s in nursing is worth the investment of time, money and energy.
A recent article in Nurse Journal noted that while an associate degree “can qualify one to become an RN in most states, earning a BSN will often bring higher pay and better job options.” Many healthcare employers are now requiring RNs to have BSNs for certain positions, like ICU nurse or surgical nurse.
In fact, there’s a nationwide push for more nurses in the workforce to have their BSNs. A Nurse.com article noted that last year, New York State passed a law requiring all nurses to obtain their BSN degrees within 10 years of becoming RNs, helping the field get toward a goal of 80 percent of nurses having BSNs by 2020.
While much of the value of a BSN comes from improved job prospects — or job preservation — our faculty members say that nurses who earn BSNs become better, more knowledgeable nurses in the process.
“A BSN gives you the recognition that you have mastered another level of leadership and management skills,” says Dr. Renee Kidd-Marshall, director of Eastern Illinois University’s online RN to BSN program. Going through the coursework to earn a BSN shows your ability as a student, in that “you have explored research and applied the research through evidence-based practice.” It also prepares you as a professional because “you are not hesitant to question best practices or advocate for the client.”
“There is power in education in every career,” adds Dr. Holly R. Farley, an associate professor in the EIU program. “I feel that, in nursing, the BSN is valuable because it strengthens knowledge in research, community health, and leadership. It better prepares (nurses) for leadership positions and identifies the nurse as a professional in the field where many allied health professionals must obtain a master’s degree or higher to practice. It also positions nurses to apply to graduate programs and further their education.”
The coursework required to get a BSN at EIU, including the components that Farley refers to, prepare nurses for healthcare challenges in the 21st century. The improved technologies and increased specialization in today’s healthcare are just two of the driving forces for more nurses to hold BSNs.
So while there’s certainly value to the individual nurse who earns a BSN — more hiring opportunity, higher-paying jobs, and being a better nurse — it also creates value for the entire healthcare community. Nurses who invest in a BSN are doing more than investing in themselves; they are working to make the entire team of healthcare providers across the nation better equipped and more prepared to face today’s challenges and the challenges to come.
Learn more about Eastern Illinois University’s online RN to BSN program.