The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there are well over 3 million registered nurses (RNs) in the U.S. If you are among this large population of working RNs, you may be looking at ways to gain a competitive edge and advance your career. According to the 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey, over 70% of RNs already hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. As such, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is essential to securing your competitive advantage in the increasingly educated and vast nursing workforce.
The growing complexity of healthcare and the need for competent, highly educated nurses to take on leadership roles in the long-term and primary care of patients are both factors driving increases in nursing education levels. Citing these reasons and studies demonstrating the correlation between nurses’ educational attainment and patient outcomes, industry associations like the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and others continue to call for increasing the BSN-prepared nurse ratio, raising the bar for educational preparation in nursing. Many working nurses are finding the flexibility of online RN to BSN programs to be a great help in achieving this goal.
The Flexibility and Speed of an Online Program
AACN reports that there are more than 780 RN to BSN programs available nationwide. More than 650 of these programs can be completed fully or partially online. Enrollment in RN to BSN programs dipped during the COVID-19 pandemic, as did the overall population of working nurses. But, in general, RN to BSN enrollment has been climbing for over two decades.
Many working nurses find much to appreciate in an online RN to BSN program because it provides the flexibility to complete coursework around a busy work and personal schedule. Accelerated online RN to BSN programs also allow students to complete a degree more quickly than many campus-based programs.
While some on-campus RN to BSN programs take around two years to complete, online programs may take 12-18 months. In fact, the online RN to BSN program offered by The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) can be completed in as few as nine months, depending on how much coursework students completed prior to starting the program and how much time students have to devote to studies.
Working and Earning a Degree
The question “How long does it take to get a BSN?” has multiple answers. Online programs provide flexibility that can work in your favor, whether you hope to finish the degree at an accelerated pace or decide to stretch the program out over several years.
Regardless, there are multiple advantages of continuing to work while in school. Not only do you continue to earn a salary, avoiding the opportunity cost of quitting work to attend a campus-based program, but you will also have a built-in practical component for the more hands-on knowledge you’ll be learning in your coursework.
Depending on your situation, you may need to consider whether you can take courses full time or part time. If you can become a full-time student and drop your working hours to part time, you may find that you are able to finish the degree more quickly. This may also impact access to financial aid, along with other factors like your level of need and the accreditation status of your chosen RN to BSN program.
How you utilize the flexibility of an online RN to BSN program is up to you. The exciting thing is that by pursuing your BSN, you will better prepare yourself for the challenges of leadership and learning that lie ahead. Nurses who hold a BSN degree typically earn more than those who do not, and a BSN opens up possibilities to pursue advanced degrees. Perhaps even more importantly, the BSN provides you with the opportunity to acquire new knowledge in nursing research, community health and other key areas that will help you grow as a professional and serve your patients with greater confidence.
Learn more about UTA’s online RN to BSN program.