By listening to the stories of professional nurses as they reflect on their journeys to achieve the Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN), we are inspired by the tales of their ambition and aspirations that provided them the courage to reach beyond their grasp to make their aspirations a reality.
For most all nurses, earning that professional degree, symbolizes a long and hard commitment to a personal vision of success. Yet, at this moment of success we begin to realize that achieving the BSN is only a new beginning, leading down a career path with un-ending possibilities. For a professional nurse, the BSN degree provides those opportunities for further consideration and exploration.
I remember my early years as a new BSN, RN! Those were the years back in the 1980’s when the majority of nurses were diploma or associate-prepared registered nurses (RNs). BSNs were a minority of 22 percent among all hospital nurses (AACN, 2015). Not only was the learning curve steep, but my acceptance and socialization into the nursing community was met with caution and scrutiny. By the end of my first year as a BSN, RN, I decided that I had a talent for teaching. It was then I decided to enroll in a master’s program. My thought was that I was probably the “smartest” I was ever going to be at this point and maybe, with a little luck, I could achieve higher goal for myself. Three years later, while working concurrently as a critical care nurse, I proudly did my walk with pomp and circumstance. During the next several years, I experienced much in my personal and professional life. I tried on many teaching and administrative roles and learned a lot. My confidence at an all-time high, I asked myself one more question: “do I have the courage and the commitment to one more goal?” After two decades of a successful and satisfying career, I decided to re-invent myself one more time. Now, as a doctorally-prepared professor of nursing, I have been given this opportunity to share my most intimate feelings with you about my career as a professional nurse. Your BSN degree is just the beginning. Likened to the words of Miley Cyrus, “it’s not where you’re going…it’s the climb.”
Today, the numbers of baccalaureate-prepared nurses have grown dramatically. And, there is good reason for that. The variety of specialties and venues for nursing practice has grown exponentially. According to the American association of Colleges of Nursing (2015), the “nurses with baccalaureate degrees are prepared to practice in all healthcare settings.” Due to demographic shifts, reimbursements of third party payers, and shorter hospital stays, more nurses have advanced their careers to the outpatient settings, including community/population-based care, non-traditional work settings, executive management, and teaching environments, both in the healthcare industry and academia. It may be time for all BSN, RNs to consider their options. A career is a walk of a lifetime. Is it your time? Check out this great website to familiarize yourself with a long and varied list of career paths at http://explorehealthcareers.org/en/Field/6/Nursing.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2015). The Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing as minimal preparation for professional practice. (Paper, updated 2015). Washington, DC: Author.
American Dental Education Association. (2016). Heathcare Careers. [Retrieved November 14, 2016], http://explorehealthcareers.org/en/Field/6/Nursing.
About the Author
Dr. Lorraine C. Igo is an Assistant Professor of Nursing for Widener University-School of Nursing. Teaching across the undergraduate curriculum and for the RN-BSN Online Program, she has a vast experience with pre-licensure and pre-professional nursing degree students. Her BSN and MSN were earned from Neumann and Villanova Universities, respectively. Her Doctorate of Education was awarded in 2002 from Widener University-School of Education.
Dr. Igo is the Coordinator of NURS 125: Introduction to Nursing, and experienced as teaching faculty for NURS: 201 Nursing Informatics, NURS 232: Research Design, NURS 332: Evidence-Based Practice, and NURS 440: Leadership and Management for the RN (RN-BSN online). As faculty, Dr. Igo is a Service Learning Faculty Fellow at Widener University, participates in community volunteer work, contributes regularly as a freelance writer for Wiley Publishers. Current research interests include conflict management in the nurses’ work environment, outcomes–based teaching strategies, and nursing care of the LGBT-Q patient across the continuum of life.