12 Reasons to Start Your Nursing Career With a BSN Degree
Published on: January 2, 2024
In 2011, the Institute of Medicine called for a substantial increase in the number of practicing registered nurses with Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees in its influential report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Since that time, the BSN has been the desired standard, if not an official requirement, for the most sought-after entry-level registered nurse (RN) positions in the United States.
To learn more about the BSN degree and the various reasons to pursue one, read on.
What Is a BSN Degree?
The BSN is a four-year college or university-level degree that aspiring nurses complete before taking the NCLEX-RN exam to become a licensed RN in their state of choice. In addition to preparing you for licensure, a BSN from a reputable nursing school gives you the comprehensive base of nursing knowledge and skills you need to demonstrate your exceptional value to employers and provide outstanding patient care. Beyond helping establish a firm foundation in the biological and medical sciences, the typical BSN program will include clinical rotations or research elements (or both) along with general liberal education courses in areas ranging from communications to sociology.
Why Choose a BSN Degree?
The BSN nursing degree is only one among several different routes to obtaining state licensure as an RN and entering the nursing field as a professional. In fact, many of these routes—such as earning an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or an undergraduate diploma in nursing from an accredited hospital—can be substantially easier, faster, and less expensive than earning a BSN.
However, a BSN education comes with numerous pronounced, distinct advantages. Below, we detail 12 of these advantages and divide our list into personal, industry and professional categories.
Personal Reasons to Start With a BSN Degree
1. Better Job Stability
The increased employment opportunities for BSN nurses provide them with greater access to the best available jobs at the best healthcare organizations. For this reason, you are likely to find both better job stability and higher levels of job satisfaction with a BSN over an ADN.
2. Higher Salary
Recognizing the bachelor’s degree as the typical level of education required for nurses to become established in their chosen profession, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a relatively high median salary for RNs at more than $81,000 per year. In its complex analysis of BSN and general RN salaries, Nursing Process echoes the findings of the BLS while expanding on them. Specifically, it divides RNs into ADN graduates and BSN graduates to note the significant difference in earning power between them. While the average ADN nurse makes roughly $74,000, BSN nurses can take home more than $80,000 annually.
3. Higher Earning Potential
Nursing Process further demonstrates the BSN’s earning potential by showing how the gap in earnings between ADN graduates and BSN graduates tends to grow over time. While ADN nurses may expect to begin their careers with a salary around $49,000 per year, new BSN nurses may expect to earn around $54,000. This $5,000 gap expands to roughly $6,000 with five to nine years of experience and roughly $7,500 with 10 to 19 years’ experience. ADN nurses with two decades or more of experience can command a considerable annual salary of $106,380—but with an annual salary of $115,280, BSN holders make just under $9,000 extra year upon year.
Identifying and succinctly summing up these salary trends, Indeed.com contributor Alexa Davidson, MSN, RN, writes that RNs with an ADN and RNs with a BSN may share similar starting salaries, but the potential for higher pay is significantly better for RNs with a BSN.
4. Ability to Travel the U.S. and World
Because nurses are in great demand both domestically and abroad, nurses with all types of educational and professional backgrounds can find many unique opportunities to travel and live in new places (while earning good money doing so). And because they have a distinct competitive advantage in the job market, BSN graduates are uniquely positioned to secure the very best national and international travel nurse positions.
Industry Reasons to Start With a BSN Degree
5. Increased Career Advancement Opportunities
Beyond increases in pay potential for BSN nurses over ADN nurses, Indeed notes the “potential for advancement” that goes hand in hand with a BSN education as well. This means that, as BSN nurses work their way up through higher salary levels, they are also accepting promotions to various supervisory, managerial and administrative positions while constantly refining their abilities in their chosen areas of expertise.
6. Changing Industry Expectations and Demands
As noted, the BSN has long been the aspirational industry standard for both students who are seeking positions as nurses and the healthcare organizations who seek to employ them in entry-level positions. Published by the National Academy of Medicine in 2011, The Future of Nursing 2020–2030 drew upon multiple sources to report, “Across the globe, the proportion of BSN-educated nurses is correlated with better health outcomes, and there are clear differences as well as similarities between ADN programs and BSN programs.” With evidence like this, employers are increasingly establishing the BSN as the base level of acceptable nursing education in the U.S. and beyond.
7. High BSN Nurse Demand
We have already discussed that nurses are in quite high demand in the current employment landscape. The BLS backs this statement with official government statistics reporting that the national job outlook for nurses is expected to grow by 6 percent over the next nine years. At this rate, the employment market for nurses could expand at twice the rate for U.S. positions across all industries and fields. This means that the American healthcare system could demand as many 177,500 new RNs by the end of 2032.
8. Existing and Future Regulations and Law
The benefits of a BSN education are indispensable to nursing industry experts, particularly as healthcare organizations have established the BSN as the degree of choice for nurses entering into practice. However, only one state has enacted a government law to make the BSN mandatory. The state of New York doesn’t necessarily require nurses to enter the profession with the degree, but since 2017, nurses in New York must pursue and obtain an BSN or a higher nursing degree within a decade of their initial date of RN licensure. Commonly known as the “BSN in 10” law, this pioneering legislation is likely to inspire other states and municipalities to take similar action.
Professional Reasons to Start With a BSN Degree
9. Access to Nursing Specialties
From nursing education and clinical research to public health and case management, nurses can work in several fields that go well beyond the direct provision of care in a doctor’s office or medical facility. Nurses can also specialize through supervisory and administrative positions that include charge nurse and nurse manager. Their additional academic training and superior credentials give these BSN graduates a distinct advantage over colleagues holding only an ADN. With extra education and certification, a nurse can go on to become a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), certified nurse midwife (CNM), certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), or nurse practitioner (NP).
10. More In-Depth Education From BSN Programs
The BSN degree represents most comprehensive nursing education available in the U.S. at the undergraduate level. The in-depth knowledge and skill that a quality BSN program instills become invaluable when you begin to practice professionally, allowing you to begin your nursing career with supreme confidence and keep pace with the sometimes-dizzying demands of daily work in healthcare. Nurses with greater levels of education and training are also better equipped to deliver desirable patient outcomes.
11. Qualified to Become an Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN)
As mentioned above in the discussion of nursing specialties, undergraduates with a BSN degree are in an optimal position to pursue careers in advanced practice nursing. By completing the right training and certification processes, a working BSN nurse can become an APRN, typically as a primary care provider. Advanced practice nurses may deliver preventive care and education to the public, manage acute and chronic illnesses, and stay up to date with the latest developments in healthcare. Though the educational and professional prerequisites for working as an advanced practice nurse can be substantial, many healthcare organizations will support you (and even cover a portion of your educational expenses) as you work toward a CNS, a CNM, a CRNA, an NP or another specialized certification.
12. Qualified for Hospitals, Military, and VA
We have already mentioned that most modern hospitals and medical centers prefer new nursing hires to hold a BSN; in fact, many healthcare organizations only hire nurses with a BSN. Serving military veterans and operated by federal government entities, military and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities also have stringent BSN requirements for their nurses. According to industry authority All Nursing Schools, nurses must generally have a BSN or a higher degree to enter into military healthcare practice. Although military officials may grant exceptions for individuals with a wealth of professional experience, military nurses with just an ADN may have to return to nursing school to complete additional training and secure their BSN.
In addition, the VA healthcare system demands a BSN education from its higher-level nurses. Nurses with a BSN can enter into the VA system at Nurse I Level II with no prior professional nursing experience whatsoever. BSN nurses can go on to achieve Nurse I Level III and Nurse II levels faster and easier than ADN nurses. Furthermore, VA nurses cannot achieve the Nurse III level without earning a BSN degree or higher.
To Learn More
For more information about the BSN degree and how it could advance your nursing career, contact Park University today by filling out a short request for information online. While on the Park University website, you can also get a closer look at our Bachelor of Science Nursing program and all it has to offer. Providing access to the latest healthcare technology as well as exceptionally low faculty-to-student ratios, Park has an exceptional reputation among nursing students and the healthcare community alike.