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The Differences Between BSN and RN: What You Need to Know

It’s a question that many aspiring nurses must address: What is the difference between a BSN and an RN? To put it simply, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a degree that can help you succeed as a registered nurse (RN), which is a licensed position. Understanding the difference between the BSN degree and the RN job title is critical — especially for those who are considering pursuing a nursing degree or starting their nursing careers — since earning a BSN can aid up-and-coming nurses in achieving their professional goals.

Typically, a BSN is a four-year degree that includes both liberal arts courses and a curriculum rooted in practical nursing, expanding students’ knowledge and preparing them to fulfill the role of an RN. While a BSN is not required for employment as an RN, earning a BSN can help registered nurses stand out from other candidates applying for the same position. After developing critical skills such as time management, problem-solving, communication, and cultural awareness, as well as receiving practical education in medical care, BSN graduates are prepared to dive into a variety of nursing roles. Read on for all the necessary information required to choose the best course of action for your professional progress.

female nurse practitioner

Understanding the Educational Requirements for Becoming an RN

Even with the steadily growing demand for healthcare professionals, currently predicted to grow 14% between 2018 and 2028 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), candidates without a formal nursing education cannot legally qualify for RN positions. While professionals with limited nursing expertise can hold healthcare aide and nursing assistant positions, the role of an RN is available only to individuals with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) who pass the NCLEX exam and earn an RN license from the states where they reside. After completing BSN coursework, an RN should have a stronger comprehension of nursing theory, human biology and psychology, and cutting-edge care techniques. As with any professional field, a higher level of education can qualify nurses to take on more workplace responsibilities, thereby allowing them to accelerate their careers and step into more lucrative positions.

Key Differences Between RN and BSN

Nurses who have graduated from accredited ADN or BSN programs can become RNs. All aspiring nurses must pass a state licensing examination and complete required practice testing to work as registered nurses. RNs can administer basic care, counsel clients on their options, track paperwork and patient progress, and communicate effectively with those in their care, as well as other staff members. Beyond these similarities, there are some compelling differences between an RN program and a BSN. BSN degrees generally require four years of education instead of the two to three years required to complete an ADN, although nontraditional paths can offer different options and timelines. The BSN course of study features more liberal arts courses and a more in-depth nursing education that includes research, theory, care models, leadership training, and management. Thus, BSN graduates are positioned to not only work in direct patient care but also advance into administrative and supervisory positions.

RN vs. BSN Salary and Professional Outlook

As baby boomers age, nurses have become increasingly in demand, according to U.S. News & World Report. That means students who wish to pursue work as an RN are likely to find many professional opportunities. However, BSN graduates will have more opportunities for advancement due to their expanded education and expertise. Organizations such as the American Nursing Association suggest that all nurses pursue a BSN to improve quality of care. Additionally, some state licensing boards, such as New York’s, require all ADN holders to complete a BSN within 10 years of graduation. According to the BLS, the median salary for RNs in the United States was $71,730 as of 2018, though RNs with a BSN could earn more as they advance to managerial and specialized positions. It is important to note that pay in all positions can vary with experience and geographic location.

Earning a BSN Can Better Prepare You for a Nursing Career

Completing a BSN program exposes nursing professionals to subjects that enhance their ability to provide quality patient care. For example, liberal arts courses help them improve their communication skills, while courses in pharmacology and nursing management and leadership in contemporary healthcare coach them on how to be leaders in their field. While a bachelor’s degree program does not always offer students the same hands-on skills they can learn through years of clinical practice, BSN programs are designed to provide in-depth knowledge of evidence-based healthcare processes. All nurses, regardless of whether they approach the field via an ADN or BSN, must possess a desire to continue learning, as technology and treatment approaches are always advancing. The primary objective of healthcare facilities is to ensure positive patient outcomes. The comprehensive education provided in a BSN degree program, which typically includes the development of soft skills such as creative problem-solving and intercultural communication, can help RNs thrive. Consequently, BSN degree holders may have more flexibility in the job market because of their higher proficiency in all aspects of nursing. This is a key advantage for those who hope to transition to positions that allow them to treat specific categories of patients in healthcare environments that suit their personal preferences.

Commit to Your Future in Nursing

By completing an RN to BSN program, such as Maryville University’s, you can expand your overall mastery of nursing, enabling you to more effectively protect patient populations from adverse health outcomes. This can be both personally and professionally rewarding. Nursing students reap many benefits through study at the bachelor’s level, from discussion of ethics in healthcare to practical applications of care techniques. Find out more about the benefits of earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to see if it suits your goals. With the right education, graduates can embark on a number of potentially rewarding and lucrative careers in nursing that offer the chance to help others.

 

Recommended Readings:

The Future of Nursing: Leading Change in the 21st Century

Going Back to School for Nursing

Why Maryville Nursing Webinar

Sources:

The American Nurse, “Advanced Nursing Education is Better for Patients”

Houston Chronicle, “Facts About Becoming a Nurse”

Monster.com, “Where Will an ADN Put You on the Nursing Career Ladder?”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Healthcare Occupations

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses

U.S. News and World Report, “Is There a Coming Shortage of Nurses?”