RN to BSN Programs

RN to BSN education is an important change in the nursing profession. The change reflects the shifts in medical care that involve more complex procedures, new types of treatments, and new technology. The goals of medical care have changed; no longer does it measure progress by the numbers and volumes of patients served. We measure success by the quality of patient outcomes. The new measuring rod is the value-based care standard, and it depends on the quality of patient care and positive results.

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Studies by the National Institutes of Health have researched nurse-sensitive patient outcomes. The studies involving heart and surgical patients showed that hospitals with a higher percentage of BSN, or master’s level nurses had lower mortality rates and better patient outcomes. The medical care environment has also changed, and computers play a greater role in inpatient and outpatient care. With so much fundamental change in healthcare, there is no wonder that the nursing profession must also change. The RN to BSN completion enhances RN skills, adds knowledge, and sets a career on a path for growth.

Why a RN to BSN Completion Program?

The Impact of BSN on Healthcare

In 1965, the American Nurses Association took the position that the bachelor’s degree should be the minimum educational requirement for a registered nurse license. A debate has continued since with many more voices accepting the idea of an associate degree as the entry level. As a practice, many nurses enter the profession without formal education by training in nursing diploma programs that, combined with clinical training experience, qualified them to sit for the nursing examination. The proponents of the baccalaureate believed that nurses with this level of training produced better patient care and communication.

As the medical profession changed over the years, it increased use of prescription drugs, precision and targeted therapies, and many technical innovations. Later came the introduction of computers both in records and in therapeutic devices and systems. Today, many medical services employers realize the urgency of upgrading the capabilities of all staff including nurses. The US Army, Navy, and the VA all have added a baccalaureate requirement for their nursing staffs, and they typically apply to positions above the entry level, and to key mid-level clinical supervisory and management positions.

The Demand for BSN Accreditation

Registered nurses and healthcare provider organizations recognize the need for baccalaureate level education in the modern healthcare workplace. The demands on RNs grow with the expansion of medical services and new technology. Nurses must do more and do it quickly and in highly automated environments. They must have an orientation that enables adaptation to emerging tools and techniques. They must play a greater role in problem-solving and in communicating with teams and patients. RNs must engage patients and promote understanding and positive consumer relations.

Career Advantages for RN to BSN Completion

BSN education can open doors for faculty positions, more rewarding specializations, and higher salaries. With BSN completion, RNs can qualify for clinical educator jobs, clinical emergency department educator positions, and roles in clinical management.

What to Expect from an RN to BSN Completion Program

Today, most nursing requirements include some level of formal education. In the past, a high percentage of nurses came from hospital-based training programs. The trend shifted to formal education, and the majority used an Associate degree to enter the profession. The other widely used method was a bachelor’s degree, and the differences are remarkable for the income, promotion potential, and range of career options. The BSN opens a lot of career choices that might require many years of experience and training for holders of associate degrees. Further, in recent years, some states have considered laws requiring new entrants into the nursing field to have a bachelor’s degree.

The RN to BSN completion adds professional value for the nurse that employers seek. Modernization and costs containment in the healthcare industry require greater use of computers, management of information, and information technology. The modern nurse must combine experience, nursing education with technical skills; they must interpret and work with patient information.

Nursing is a Growth Profession

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurses is strong and the outlook through 2026 indicates a growth rate of about fifteen percent. The drivers of the professional growth include the laws, policies, and the changing US population. Laws like the Affordable Care Act brought healthcare insurance to millions of Americans including low-income families. The ACA also strengthened hospitals and other medical services providers with reforms that emphasized the value of medical care, lower readmissions, and increased positive patient outcomes.

RN to BSN Admission Requirements

The basic admission requirements for RN to BSN completion include a valid RN License, and completion of general and nursing education requirements. The general education requirements promote social responsibility, personal responsibility, ethics, and liberal arts study. The nursing education curriculum includes clinical instruction, the physical and life sciences. The requirements include studies in physics, chemistry, biology, genetics, and the mathematical sciences. The social sciences studies add sociology and psychology. In addition, per the school’s preference, coursework includes the below-listed categories.

  • Nursing as a profession
  • Nursing management and leadership
  • Women’s health, geriatric, and community-focused nursing
  • Clinical prevention, population studies
  • Health assessment, and environmental health
  • Evidence-based practice and nursing research

Structure and Content of RN to BSN

The RN to BSN course of study typically involves the equivalent of 120 credit hours that meet the clinical education hours requirement (about 70 to 90 hours). Most applicants complete the program within two years. The base of the qualifications is the status of the licensed RN. The education requirements build from that base of knowledge and experience. Applicants can transfer previous credits in which they got an equivalent grade of 2.5 on a 4.0-point scale. The structure enables a concentration of the BSN core that includes prevention, community care, and research.

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)

All fifty states, the District, and the US Territories require the NCLEX for candidates for a state nursing license. The purpose of the exam is to ensure a level of knowledge that protects the public. Nurse candidates must show the level of skill and knowledge needed to practice nursing safely and effectively. The exam can be the RN exam or the practical nursing exam. This exam is the bridge for BSN completion; it certifies the RN’s skill and knowledge level.

Health Informatics

Associate Degree in Nursing has a common core of educational concentrations such as Adult health, Pediatrics. Newborn Care, Community Health, and Psychiatric nursing. The BSN amplifies nurse education with a greater focus on nursing theory and a sharp concentration on information and technology.

NY State- ‘BSN in Ten’

One tip of the trend towards RN to BSN education is in the laws of the state of New York. They passed a “BSN in Ten” law that requires nursing graduates to complete a bachelor’s degree within ten years of the time they get an NY nursing license. NY was the first state to formalize the requirement, but many other states have similar legislation in process. Nursing groups sponsored a similar proposal in New Jersey. North Dakota passed a BS requirement in 1986.

The Future

BSN education can complete your nursing education and put you in a position to choose higher levels of learning and achievement. The master’s degree requires a bachelor’s degree, and the specializations that can come from further graduate study can add income and career options. Nursing like the medical professional and medical science is in a period of tremendous change. The RN to BSN completion can help in the short term to meet current trends and requirements. The BSN can set the stage for further learning and participation in the evolution of medicine and the practice of nursing.

RN to BSN Timeline

If you are already working as a RN, you may wonder how long it will talk to complete your BSN. Here’s a look at a typical timeline from RN to BSN.

Finish RN/AND 2 years
Pass NCLEX-RN Upon completion of RN
Earn Accelerated BSN 9 months – 1 year
Earn Traditional BSN 2 years

RN to BSN Schools

Many schools offer RN to BSN programs, from schools with 100% online coursework to local community colleges. Often referred to as Bridge Programs, or RN to BSN Bridge Programs, many employers now require you to prove your enrollment in a BSN program before they will consider your application.

Here’s a look at a few schools that offer RN to BSN programs:

Bellevue College, Bellevue, WA

Bellevue College has a variety of nursing programs, and their RN to BSN program is one of these offerings. The program requires 180 credits for completion, with 90 coming from the ADN, 45 credits for the NCLEX-RN exam, and then 32 credits from Upper Division Nursing courses and 15 credits from Upper Division Electives. The program is able to be completed in four quarters, and there are full- and part-time options. Courses are taught through a hybrid model, with some online coursework and some (1-2 days per week) attendance on campus.

Walsh University, North Canton, OH

Walsh University offers a 100% online RN to BSN program. Theirs is considered a “fast track” program, with completion in only eight terms, with one course per term. The total program is 125 credits. Students may also gain up to two credits for work experience in the nursing field. Walsh’s programs are accredited by the CCNE, and they have four start dates per year. Walsh also has a 100% online RN to MSN program for those looking for a more advanced degree.

Penn State World Campus, University Park, PA

Penn State World Campus is a division of Pennsylvania State University, and they offer all courses 100% online to complete the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. If you live near a Penn State campus, you can blend the learning models and take some courses on campus. Penn State offers a traditional and an accelerated BSN, allowing students to take short 7.5-week courses. Once you earn the BSN, you can add on a certificate in Nursing Management, Nursing Forensics or Nursing Informatics to set yourself apart from other job seekers.