Why Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing?

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In an increasingly complex and evolving health care environment, nurses must be prepared with critical thinking, case management, leadership and health promotion skills. Baccalaureate-educated nurses are prepared to meet these demands, playing a crucial role in the delivery of safe care — and standing out among their peers.

There is a high demand for bachelor’s-prepared nurses.

  • Bachelor’s-prepared nurses are recognized for their critical thinking, leadership, case management, and health promotion skills, as well as their ability to practice across a variety of settings (AACN: The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice).
  • Seventy-one percent of nursing directors identified differences in practice between BSN-prepared RNs and those with an associate degree or hospital diploma; baccalaureate-prepared nurses demonstrated stronger synthesis and application of knowledge and leadership skills (Goode, et al., 2001).
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment projections for 2016-2026, the RN workforce is expected to grow 15%, from 2.92 million to 3.36 million. This is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations, which is 7%.

They provide high quality care.

  • Studies have linked baccalaureate-prepared nurses with lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates; a growing body of evidence associates BSN graduates with unique skills that enable them to deliver safer patient care (The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice, AACN).
  • Studies have supported an association between baccalaureate-prepared nursing staff and outcomes such as lower incidence of pressure ulcers, postoperative deep vein thrombosis, hospital-acquired infections, and post-surgical mortality (Reports on Policies that Can Transform Patient Care, Charting Nursing’s Future, Robert Wood’s Foundation).

A bachelor’s degree in nursing opens more doors.

  • Health care is shifting to primary and preventative care.
  • A bachelor’s degree in nursing gets registered nurses on track to pursue nursing education; pharmaceutical and medical devices sales; genetics/genomics studies; high-demand specialties such as geriatrics, pediatrics, psychiatric/mental health and informatics; systems improvements; military careers; case management; and administration.
  • A bachelor’s degree in nursing is the first step toward more advanced nursing roles, such as nurse practitioner, nurse executive, nurse leader and nurse researcher.

Bachelor’s-prepared nurses make more money.

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for registered nurses is $71,730 (2018). An RN with an associate degree makes an average annual salary of $68,000, while an RN with a bachelor’s degree makes an average annual salary of $82,000 (according to payscale.com).
  • A bachelor’s-prepared RN can expect to make more than an associate-prepared RN; their earning potential increases even more with opportunities to take on managerial, administrative and specialized nursing positions.

A bachelor’s degree in nursing is becoming standard.

  • The Institutes of Medicine recommends that 80% of all nurses should hold a BSN degree by 2020. This recommendation reflects the increasingly complex health care arena in which nurses practice; high competency levels and skills in health policy, system improvement, research, collaboration, evidence-based practice and leadership empower nurses to meet the demands of this complex environment.
  • Magnet hospitals require that all nurse managers, chief nursing officers and nurse leaders have a baccalaureate or graduate degree in nursing (see ANCC’s Magnet Recognition Program eligibility requirements).
  • New York’s BSN in 10 legislation now requires registered nurses to obtain a bachelor’s degree within 10 years of initial licensure.
  • The ANCC’s Magnet Recognition Program, the Institutes of Medicine report, RWJF report and some state legislatures are increasing the momentum for increased education for the United States nursing workforce.