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Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

November 18, 2022

Nursing & Healthcare

What Is a BSN Degree and BSN Nurse?

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“BSN” stands for Bachelor of Science in Nursing, which is an undergraduate-level degree for registered nurses (RNs) that introduces them to topics such as patient care technology, research, health promotion, safety, and quality within the healthcare system. A BSN degree provides future nurses with the level of education many employers expect their registered nurses to have. While a person can work as an RN with an associate degree, nurses with a BSN are typically given more responsibility, supervisory roles, and higher salaries. In fact, some hospitals require registered nurses to have their BSN. 

The American Nurses Credentialing Center, or ANCC, offers Magnet designation to hospitals that require nurse leaders to hold at least a BSN degree. A Magnet-status hospital is known as a great place for nurses to work as well as for being the highest level of care for patients. Nurses who work at these hospitals are serious about achieving and maintaining the highest level of quality, safety, and patient satisfaction. The only way for an RN to work at a Magnet-designated hospital is to earn their BSN.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, including what you’ll learn in the program, steps to earning the degree, and reasons why it may be a good route for your professional journey.

What Is a BSN Nurse?

A BSN nurse is a licensed registered nurse that is baccalaureate prepared. In addition to hospitals, BSN nurses can work in primary and preventive care settings within the community, in patients’ private homes, in outpatient centers, and in neighborhood schools and clinics. Registered nurses who hold their BSN degree have more career options and access to higher-paying jobs. BSN nurses can work towards opportunities in specialized areas or in managerial roles.

The main responsibilities of a BSN nurse include:

  • Assessing patient symptoms and conditions.
  • Administering treatments to injured, disabled, or ill patients.
  • Educating patients and their families about their medical conditions and treatments.
  • Recording medical histories.
  • Setting up patient care plans alongside doctors and other nurses.
  • Monitoring patient health statuses. 
  • Reviewing and maintaining medical records.

BSNs earn higher average salaries than RNs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses earned a median salary of $77,600 in 2021. Keep in mind that RN salaries vary drastically depending on the nursing specialty, years of experience, nursing education, facility type, and geographical location.

Research from PayScale shows that BSN nurses earn an average salary of $89,000 a year, more than $10,000 above the median earnings for RNs. 

BSN Degree Overview

Earning a BSN degree typically takes four years. The program includes general education requirements and classes specific to a major in nursing. This degree is for entry-level nurses who want to make a meaningful contribution toward better patient care in the ever-evolving field of nursing, expand their abilities in patient-care settings, and reach higher salaries only available to nurses with certain qualifications. Upon completing their education requirements, aspiring nurses must also pass the NCLEX-RN© licensing examination to prove their competence. 

The demand for nurses with a BSN degree is quite a high, and growing, due to the prevalence of widespread diseases such as COVID-19 and an aging baby boomer population. Moreover, researchers say the U.S. may see a shortage of between 200,000 and 450,000 registered nurses by 2025, deepening the need for new nurses. The healthcare industry is increasingly complex, with new life-saving technologies being introduced every year, so the importance of highly educated registered nurses—those with bachelor’s degrees—has never been greater. 

Earning a BSN Degree

Becoming a nurse is a great career choice for many. It offers incredible job security, great salaries, countless specializations, and the opportunity for fulfilling work. WGU offers three nursing program options to earn a BSN degree:

1. Traditional BSN 

WGU’s BSN (Prelicensure) program is the best way for aspiring nurses to earn their registered nurse (RN) license and their BSN degree in one program. 

In this program, nursing students will work closely with their Program Mentor and Course Instructors to prepare for challenging assessments and virtual reality simulations. Once students have been successful in completing those, they’ll be able to start clinical rotations. Between clinical rotations, simulation labs, and schoolwork, students spend at least 30 hours a week completing this degree. The curriculum in this program is designed to turn students into outstanding nurses who are prepared to play an integral role in patient care and on a strong team. The traditional BSN program has a standard path and a set pace, with a completion time of 2.5 years.

2. RN to BSN

While the traditional BSN program is suited for students who are starting from scratch, WGU offers an RN-to-BSN program that helps current nurses earn a bachelor’s degree, bridging the gap between an ADN and BSN. This degree program was designed specifically for current RNs who want to level up their ability to improve patient outcomes and community health. This is an opportunity for nurses to enhance their résumés, increase job security, maximize their earning potential, and provide even better care to patients.  

3. Accelerated BSN

Some students want to start their nursing careers even quicker than our traditional BSN program allows. That’s why WGU offers an accelerated BSN program that allows students to earn both their RN and their BSN in the same program and at a faster pace than normal.

There are major benefits of earning a BSN degree online. For example, an online degree offers unmatched flexibility compared to traditional, on-campus schooling. It also allows students to finish their degrees in the time frame that they prefer. Most of all, it provides the road to a fulfilling career of caring for those in need.

Reasons to Consider a BSN Degree

A BSN degree has many benefits for ambitious nurses. If an RN is looking to advance their career, then getting a bachelor’s degree is the guaranteed route to that end goal, especially if they’re planning to work in the healthcare field for the long haul. Those that don’t already hold their RN but know they want to start a career in the healthcare industry can fast-track their journey by entering an RN-to-BSN program, allowing them to earn the proper credentials and a comprehensive education at the same time. Some hospitals even offer tuition reimbursement programs for registered nurses who choose to continue their education by earning their BSN. 

It’s indisputable: becoming a nurse is an excellent, secure career path. Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which will equate to 203,200 new jobs per year, on average. Earning a BSN degree helps nurses stand out to employers. Particularly ambitious nurses may also want to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing degree or a Doctor of Nursing Practice, for which a BSN degree is a prerequisite.

Apply to a BSN Degree Program

For those interested in a lifelong career of caring for others, earning a BSN degree online could be a great choice. Here are some major advantages to earning a BSN from WGU:

  • It’s an affordable nursing degree.

Per-term fees empower students to take as many classes as they can handle each semester, allowing them to ultimately spend less on their nursing education. Simply put, the faster a student completes the nursing program, the less they pay for their degree.

  • We offer competency-based programs that put you in the driver’s seat.

WGU allows students to complete their courses on their schedule, so they can move to the next step as soon as they show mastery of the material. WGU's nursing programs are focused on maximizing the impact of students’ time so that they are only learning and mastering skills that will be useful in the field and will help them find employment.  

  • A BSN opens doors in your nursing career.

Students who complete WGU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree graduate with the knowledge and clinical experience to drive their nursing career in any direction they want. Students are immediately in demand and prepared to take on new roles in improving and maintaining the health of patients and communities.  It also puts them in the position to earn their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), if they choose, and study a specialty such as nursing informatics, nurse education, or nursing leadership and management.

A BSN degree program helps you develop the knowledge and experience you need to be successful in the nursing field. As more hospitals strive for magnet status, a bachelor's degree in nursing can help you contribute to that goal and secure better credentials and skills to improve patient and overall community care. Whether you’re a current RN or starting from scratch, WGU has a BSN program for you. Learn more, and start your journey to becoming a nurse who has a positive impact on healthcare.

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