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Considering a BSN? Your Timing Could Not Be Better

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree has never been more vital to attain. BSN-prepared nurses have been linked to better patient outcomes and greater equity in care, which is why Magnet hospitals prefer to hire nurses with bachelor's degrees.

A decade ago, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), formerly the Institute of Medicine, made the case for dramatically increasing the percentage of BSN-prepared nurses by 2020 because of the benefits to both nurses and patients. A new report by NAM calls for increased education for nurses in order to increase access to medical care.

Online Programs Make the BSN Accessible and Flexible

UTA RN to BSN online program

A common misconception about obtaining a BSN degree is that it will require extremely busy nurses to take time off from work and in turn, stop receiving a paycheck. However, the expansion of state universities offering online degrees allows easy accessibility to those seeking a degree. Online education delivers the same caliber of education as in-person education but allows students the flexibility to complete coursework at times most convenient to their schedules.

Many universities now offer "fast-track" online nursing degrees. Students can complete The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) RN to BSN program, for instance, in only nine months. Additionally, through the Professional Nursing Pathways online program, UTA has formed an alliance with over 35 community colleges, allowing students in associate degree nursing programs to maximize course selection that transfers into UTA's highly regarded RN to BSN program. Hospitals, recognizing the value of ongoing and increased education for their nursing staff, have also partnered with UTA to allow easier access to the program.

Lowering the Cost With Scholarships and Tuition Reimbursements

Online degrees can often be significantly less expensive, and students can apply financial aid to these degrees. In addition to possible tuition reimbursements from your employer, there are an abundance of grants and scholarships available, many specifically for minority populations.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) offers the Nurse Corps Scholarship Program to fund the education of nurses in exchange for a two-year service at a healthcare facility with a critical shortage of nurses. Scholarships include payment of tuition, fees and a living stipend. Scholarships are awarded based on financial need, academic performance, an essay expressing your commitment to a career in nursing, recommendation letters and other requirements. The deadline to submit your application is May 6 for the academic year starting in September. Application forms can be acquired through the HRSA web site.

Sigma Global Nursing Excellence maintains an active listing of general scholarships as well as those for minorities and disadvantaged students.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) lists opportunities for scholarships, grants and tuition forgiveness.

Last but not least, hospitals and clinics are increasingly accommodating to those who want to improve their credentials. So, check with your employer to see if they offer tuition reimbursement.

New BSN Recommendations Influencing Hiring

As noted above, nursing organizations across the nation have called for a more educated nurse population, because continued research shows that the extra education results in higher competency in practice, communication and leadership. Many healthcare systems and hospitals show hiring preferences to BSN-prepared nurses.

Societal Benefits

The federal government, state governments, insurance companies and healthcare professionals are in the ongoing process of reforming the structure of medical care with the goal of making high-quality care available and accessible across the broad population. As Baby Boomers across the U.S. age, our healthcare needs are changing and the need for nurses who understand chronically ill patients grows. Broadening nursing education, in addition to promoting greater self-confidence and personal reward for nurses, has been shown to result in increased levels of health benefits for patients.

Leveraging an engaged and informed workforce is the best way to improve medical care, and the means towards that education has never been more accessible.

Learn more about The University of Texas at Arlington's online Professional Nursing Pathways program.


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