This COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many people to reevaluate their current job and career goals, especially nurses. While many facets of “normal” life are on pause, dreams and ambitions are not. The time has never been better to enroll in an online Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science (BSN) program.
Here are just five important reasons RN-prepared nurses should earn a bachelor’s degree now.
- Prepare for the Future
Currently, you do not need a BSN to be an RN, but there is no guarantee this will continue. The state of New York passed the “BSN in 10” law that requires RNs to obtain a BSN within 10 years of initial licensure. A decade ago, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the National Academy of Medicine (formerly known as the Institute of Medicine or IOM) recommended that organizations increase the percentage of nurses with a BSN to 80% by 2020. While 2020 was not the year to reach this goal, organizations will continue to strive toward this mission over the next decade.
- Open More Job Options
More and more employers require or prefer BSN-prepared applicants, even for entry-level positions. For example, many pediatric centers, like Children’s Health and other Magnet status hospitals have a certain quota for BSN nurses. Also, some facilities require a BSN degree for certain managerial, leadership or educator positions. Today, nurse educators are in high demand to work with student nurses, unlicensed assistive personnel, inter-professional team members, patients/caregivers or even pharmaceutical or third-party payor support positions.
Although most nurses work in more traditional environments (such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or offices), there are many non-traditional job locations for nurses like movie sets, cruise ships or national parks, to name a few. Often, non-traditional roles or locations prefer a nurse with a BSN degree and experience.
- Earn More Pay
BSN-prepared nurses can earn about $5,000 more per year than those with an RN degree, according to 2019 data. Nurses may also earn certification bonuses or differentials. Some certifications require a BSN for testing, such as certifications in oncology as a generalist oncology nurse (OCN), a position as a certified breast cancer nurse (CBCN) or a role as a blood or marrow transplant certified nurse (BMTCN).
Since BSN-prepared nurses often hold managerial and leadership positions, they often receive bigger paychecks. Some of the highest paying nursing positions require a BSN, such as legal nurse consultant, industry nurse or nurse educator.
- Improve Patient Outcomes
When asked, “Why did you become a nurse?” many nurses say it is because they felt called to help others. One way to improve your patient care is to further your education. Studies show that organizations with more BSN-prepared nurses have better patient outcomes. For example, one landmark study of surgical patients across 168 hospitals showed that even a 10% increase in a BSN-trained nursing staff reduces the risk of patient death rate by 5%.
- Obtain More Financial Aid
The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act includes resources to advance nursing education through the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019. This legislation authorizes financial resources for nursing workforce development programs through 2024.
In addition, there are student loan forgiveness programs if you work in medically underserved areas. For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program offers up to 85% loan forgiveness. Other programs include state-specific loan forgiveness programs, repayment programs through the National Health Service Corps and facility-specific tuition waiver programs.
A BSN degree helps prepare you for expanding roles and new directions to make you more competitive in the workforce. Your education prepares you for leadership or non-traditional roles that may not be available without the degree. Furthermore, an advanced degree in nursing benefits patients and their families by improving health outcomes.
The COVID-19 pandemic is shaping healthcare forever. It exposes gaps in healthcare and creates awareness of health disparities while also creating new opportunities through telehealth and telemedicine. Earning your BSN will prepare you for post-pandemic career that will likely be more complex and diverse.
Learn more about Fitchburg State University’s online RN to BSN program.