I am often asked this question by Registered Nurses (RNs) and laypeople alike. Those outside of health care do not always understand the many different degrees nurses can earn, and the reasons why they choose a particular path in education. RNs who have clinical experience and already have earned an Associate’s Degree or Diploma in Nursing may question what benefit there is to their future career in nursing.
From an academic perspective, a BSN program builds on knowledge and clinical skills an RN already possesses. Advancing your education with a BSN will further prepare you to care for patients who are more complex than ever before. The Institute of Medicine (2010) report examined challenges to nursing education, and presented recommendations for the future of nursing. One of these recommendations is that the number of BSN prepared nurses increase from 50% to 80% by the year 2020. As a result of this recommendation many health care institutions are encouraging nurses to complete a BSN degree within 5 years of being hired, and there are some who will not hire an RN without a BSN degree. From this perspective therefore it can be difficult for RNs without a BSN to secure a job, and more difficult to advance in their careers. Some organizations are also offering salary incentives and greater opportunities for advancement for RNs with a BSN degree.
From a financial perspective RNs with a BSN degree also have better earning potential. A report by Yox and Stokowski (2016) highlights salaries by degree, information you may find to encourage your decision to pursue a BSN degree. The authors reported that RNs with an Associate’s degree annually earn $71,000, RNs with a Diploma earn $75,000, and RNs with a BSN degree earn $79,000 per year. Although the BSN degree will cost you money in the short term, clearly there is a financial benefit to advancing your education that will impact your earning potential for many more years ahead. In addition, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing ([AACN],2015) report that BSN prepared nurses are valued for their skills in critical thinking, leadership, case management, and health promotion, all characteristics that Magnet Hospitals desire in their nurses. The AACN sees the continuation of education for a BSN as a link in promoting lifelong learning, and helping to prepare today’s nurses for the unique demands they will face in practice in the 21st century. There are advantages for your career therefore, in future financial gains and opportunities to practice in a greater variety of settings!
American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2015). The impact of education on nursing practice. Retrieved from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/impact-of-education.
Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. (2010). The future of nursing: Focus on Education. Retrieved from https://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2010/The-Future-of-Nursing/Nursing%20Education%202010%20Brief.pdf.
Yox, S.B., & Stokowski, L.A. (2016). Medscape RN/LPN Salary Report 2016. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com.
About the Author
Dr. Nancy Laplante is an Associate Professor of Nursing. She is the Coordinator of the RN/BSN & RN/MSN program options and the Director of Online Programs for the School of Nursing. She earned her MSN degree in 2004 with a focus in community health nursing, and a PhD in Nursing in 2007. Dr. Laplante is a board certified advanced holistic nurse, and serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Holistic Nursing.
She believes that compassion and caring are essential components of nursing education, and she strives to engage students in respectful, meaningful dialogue. She is a regular contributor to fundamental nursing textbooks and has published in the areas of holistic nursing education, educational perspectives, healthcare applications for the Internet of Things (IoT), and Service-Learning. Additional research interests include the image of nursing, creating presence in online learning communities, and self-care practices for nursing students. In her spare time Dr. Laplante enjoys spending time with her family and being a volunteer for a local animal rescue to support pet adoption and education in the community.