Registered nurses (RNs) who hold a diploma or associate degree in nursing have the right educational foundation and credentials for continuing their education by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). To earn a BSN, these hard-working professionals often need the flexibility and convenience offered through an online RN to BSN program that accommodates their personal and work obligations while pursuing higher education goals.
Increasingly, healthcare employers desire to hire nurses with BSN degrees due to the level of knowledge and expertise they bring to their positions, especially in clinical settings. As a result, an affordable RN to BSN program is a worthwhile pursuit that can expand employment opportunities and lead to career advancement.
Advantages of an Online Bridge Program
The American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN) supports bridge programs, like the online RN to BSN from The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), as educational paths toward enhancing nursing competencies and patient care techniques. Specifically, bridge programs capitalize on an RN’s experience to learn new information quickly and apply it in patient care settings.
Online programs fuel enrollment in RN to BSN programs by providing easy access to state-of-the-art instruction through distance learning formats. As suggested in a study focused on RN to BSN programs and rural nurse education, RN to BSN programs have the unique potential of recruiting and retaining rural nurses, providing access to the educational opportunities needed to increase the number of BSN-prepared nurses in rural settings. This is an essential component of achieving health equity and increasing access to quality care, core focuses of national health initiatives like Healthy People 2030 and the National Academies of Medicine’s latest Future of Nursing study.
Many online programs offer courses in flexible formats that work around a nurse’s professional and personal obligations. This provides a convenient, flexible way for many nursing professionals to acquire a BSN, often in less than a year. For instance, students enrolled in UTA’s online RN to BSN can complete the program in as few as nine months.
Funding an Affordable RN to BSN Program
While many RNs may be interested in obtaining a BSN, cost may seem prohibitive. Fortunately, there are several funding sources to consider in addition to finding an affordable RN to BSN program. Students can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which determines which loans, grants and even work-study funds are available for qualified candidates completing approved, accredited college or career programs.
U.S. service members and their spouses may qualify for college loan and tuition assistance programs through the GI Bill or other VA education benefits and military scholarship programs. Certain branches of the military offer specific educational incentives and loan repayment opportunities for enlisted nurses. National programs like the Nurse Corps also offer scholarships and loan repayment opportunities for nurses who agree to work in designated critical shortage facilities or high-need areas for a certain period of time.
Further, there are college and employer partnership programs at many accredited schools that will assist with tuition needs. Employers are often motivated to offer some form of tuition assistance to help nursing staff continue their education. Aspiring RN to BSN candidates can check with their employers to see what types of financial aid may be available.
Plus, nursing organizations like AACN offer comprehensive databases of financial aid resources to help nurses find scholarships, loans and grants to aid in advancing their nursing education.
Paying It Forward With a BSN Degree
The career implications of holding a BSN degree should be considered when thinking about participating in an online RN to BSN bridge program. These include:
- Increased career and professional growth opportunities in a competitive job market
- Increased compensation over time within the nursing profession
For instance, coveted nurse leader and nurse manager positions at Magnet hospitals are only available to nurses with at least a BSN degree. Plus, compensation-wise, July 2023 data from ZipRecruiter suggests that BSN RNs make, on average, over $34,000 more per year than RNs in general.
As the demand for nurses increases nationwide to meet new healthcare challenges, employers are seeking qualified nursing professionals to provide high-quality patient care across medical platforms. Through an affordable RN to BSN program, nurses can benefit from enhanced knowledge and advanced healthcare experiences that will make them valuable assets in their field.
Learn more about UTA’s online RN to BSN program.