In just two years, students can earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) and go on to land a job as a registered nurse (RN). Is it really necessary, then, to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)?
According to a report by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) -- formerly the Institute of Medicine -- the answer is a definite "yes." An ADN is one educational path for nurses seeking employment in hospitals, home healthcare and other healthcare settings; however, with today's rapid changes in healthcare, a BSN is becoming the expectation.
Online RN to BSN programs are a convenient way for working RNs to advance from an ADN to a BSN. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) offers an online RN to BSN option that features the same required courses as the school's campus-based RN to BSN program. This program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), so students can be assured of a high-quality education.
What Is the Need for BSN-Prepared Nurses?
"The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health" (NAM) identifies key recommendations for the nursing profession. Among them is what is known as the "80-20 proposal." The NAM supports higher levels of education for nurses and recommends increasing the number of nurses with a BSN to 80 percent by 2020.
This goal is supported by findings that show patient mortality decreases as the percentage of BSNs increases. Specifically, the NAM report cites studies showing that "each 10% increase in the proportion of BSN-prepared RNs decreases the risk of patient death and failure to rescue by 5%."
How Can RNs Overcome Obstacles to a BSN?
The NAM report includes action steps to achieve the 80-20 goal. This includes the recommendation that "immediately upon meeting the diploma/associate degree curricular requirements, education will continue to the BSN level."
However, attaining this goal can present challenges for working nurses. The authors of "Registered Nurses as Professionals" (Online Journal of Issues in Nursing) cite time and cost as the biggest challenges for RNs seeking to earn BSNs.
Online RN to BSN programs can be one way to overcome these obstacles. Typically, online programs such as UTPB's offer students greater flexibility and convenience than they may find with campus-based options. Other benefits of an online program follow:
- Multiple start dates allow busy RNs to enroll at a time that is most convenient.
- Online programs give students more freedom to arrange course requirements around responsibilities such as with jobs and family. With an online program, there is no need to put a career on hold or try to arrange shifts around a class schedule.
- Students can continue to work as they earn their BSN, which may reduce concerns related to cost and loss of income.
- Online programs can be more affordable. As of February 2018, for example, UTPB's online RN to BSN tuition was under $10,000.
When it comes to education, the NAM report leaves no doubt as to the value of attaining a BSN. With coursework that can be completed in as few as 12 months, RN to BSN programs can prepare RNs with the credentials they need to meet today's changing healthcare needs, including in leadership positions.
Learn more about UTPB's online RN to BSN program.
Sources:American Association of Colleges of Nursing: CCNE
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