Nursing scope of practice has evolved, meaning nursing education has also changed. While an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) was once sufficient for accessing entry-level roles and maintaining a forward career trajectory, registered nurses (RNs) in the current healthcare landscape can benefit from having a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
Many nurses choose to pursue their BSN through a flexible online program or part-time study, allowing them to balance their education with their work commitments. The online RN to BSN program from The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) is for working nurses looking to expand their skills and advance their careers and earning potential.
What Are the Benefits of a BSN Degree?
Although nurses with an ADN can still work in some places and serve as valuable members of the healthcare team, there are several reasons why a BSN can make sense.
- Broader evidence-based practice (EBP) and clinical knowledge. A BSN program provides more comprehensive nursing education, emphasizing EBP and advanced courses in nursing theory, research, leadership and community health. These topics enhance a nurse’s clinical competence and critical-thinking skills, improving patient care by applying the most up-to-date and effective treatments.
- Function with more independence. With broader knowledge and skills, nurses can deliver care seamlessly across multiple settings and shift the focus to primary and preventive services within communities. BSN-prepared nurses can also function more independently in several areas, says the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), including “clinical decision-making, case management, provision of direct bedside care, supervision of unlicensed aides and other support personnel, guiding patients through the maze of health care resources, and educating patients on treatment regimens and adoption of healthy lifestyles.”
- Preferred degree among employers. As the AACN states, a BSN is considered the minimal preparation for professional practice and a preferred qualification of working nurses today. In 2022, the AACN reported that more than one-quarter of hospitals and other healthcare employers required new hires to have a BSN and about 72% of employers strongly preferred BSN program graduates.
- Career advancement. Because BSN-prepared nurses are in demand among employers, the degree can open more job opportunities. In addition, BSN programs encourage a culture of lifelong learning and professional growth, which is essential in a field as dynamic as healthcare. BSN-prepared nurses are well-positioned to pursue higher levels of nursing education, including graduate-level programs to enter advanced practice roles like nurse practitioner.
- Increased earning potential. Nurses with a BSN make more than nurses without the degree. The average annual salary for an ADN-prepared nurse is $75,776, according to ZipRecruiter (as of August 2023). BSN-prepared nurses earn, on average, $90,046.
How Long Does It Take to Complete a BSN Degree?
The timeline to graduate with a BSN is often minimal for nurses with an ADN. If enrolling in a flexible online RN to BSN program like UTA’s, nurses can earn the degree in as few as nine months. The program caters to working nurses’ busy schedules, so students can remain active in the field, earn a paycheck and retain access to employer-sponsored benefits such as health insurance and tuition reimbursement.
What Jobs Are Available to Nurses With a BSN?
BSN-prepared nurses work across all healthcare settings in both clinical and nonclinical roles. For many, the BSN allows them to further specialize according to their interests.
Some career opportunities available to nurses with a BSN include:
- Charge nurse
- Case manager
- Public health nurse
- Care coordinator or navigator
While the benefits of completing a BSN are significant and well-documented, nurses may have personal or professional reasons for pursuing the degree. Regardless of the motivation, ADN-prepared nurses have much to gain by making the leap to a BSN.
Learn more about UTA’s online RN to BSN program.