There is more than one way to become a registered nurse (RN). An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) has been one popular path. From start to finish, students can earn their ADN in just two years. By comparison, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) typically takes four years.
Graduates of both programs take the same licensure exam, the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). So why bother with a BSN if both degrees lead to RN licensure? From improving patient outcomes to paving the way to advanced practice and leadership roles, there are major benefits to a BSN.
The good news for ADN-prepared nurses is that earning a BSN does not mean going back to school for a four-year degree. At the University of South Carolina Aiken, for example, students can go from an ADN to a BSN in just 12 months. USC Aiken's RN to BSN program is 100 percent online, giving working nurses a convenient option for advancing their education and their practice.
What Are the Benefits of a BSN?
RNs by far make up the largest segment of the healthcare workforce. They deliver the majority of patient care and play a critical role in healthcare outcomes.
In its report "The Future of Nursing," the Institute of Medicine (now the Academy of Medicine) linked nursing practice to improved patient safety and quality of care. Nurses are "crucial in preventing medication errors, reducing rates of infection and even facilitating patients' transition from hospital to home."
Research on nurse education and patient outcomes offers a convincing argument for earning a BSN. Patients cared for by BSN-prepared nurses:
- Are less likely to die.
- Have shorter hospital stays.
- Have lower healthcare costs.
RN to BSN programs prepare nurses with the knowledge and skills today's changing healthcare system requires. At USC Aiken, the RN to BSN program places an emphasis on higher-level competencies, including those in the areas of:
- Research and evidence-based practice.
- Critical thinking.
- Ethical and legal issues.
- Community and public health.
- Leadership and management.
The RN to BSN program at USC Aiken also prepares RNs to meet the demands of a growing population of older adults. People are living longer, and nurses with higher levels of education will be better equipped to meet their healthcare needs, including chronic illnesses.
How Can a BSN Support Advanced Nursing Roles?
For RNs who want to go into primary and specialty care, a BSN provides a path to becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). APRNs have a master's or doctorate and can take on greater independence in their practice. You must have a BSN from an accredited school like USC Aiken to be accepted into a graduate-level nursing program.
In a push to improve patient outcomes, the IOM has called for 80 percent of the nation's nurses to have a BSN or higher by 2020. Moreover, a survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) found that 80 percent of employers now require or prefer BSN-prepared nurses. An RN to BSN program, such as USC Aiken's, is an accessible, affordable way for ADN-prepared nurses to keep pace with the changes in their profession.
Sources:RWJF: More Nurses Answering the Call for Higher Levels of Education
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