Employment opportunities for registered nurses are on the rise. A million new opportunities are expected to arise by 2025 – a growth rate that is faster than the average for most other occupations. The projected demand does not include the creation of jobs caused by the large number of nurses who are expected to retire in the next decade. While the industry seeks to boost size of the workforce to meet public demands, there’s also an increasing emphasis on quality, particularly the educational preparation of new and existing nurses. The Institute of Medicine is just one of many organizations calling for an increase in the number of nurses who hold a baccalaureate degree. The IOM’s recommendation is to have a workforce where at least 80% of registered nurses have a BSN at minimum. It is recommends doubling the numbers of nurses who hold a doctoral degree. The industry’s gravitation towards evidence-based practice and recognition of the influential role nurses play in patient care call for better-prepared nurses. The BSN degree supports the development of an advanced skillset, which enables graduates to apply evidence-based practice, use technology, and manage complex patient cases.
More than 60 percent of nurses in Maryland receive their initial nursing education through an associate degree program offered at community colleges. These programs may be completed in three years – including prerequisite courses. A few nurses who opt for this route do so with the intention of continuing their education – at least to the BSN degree. As employers raise the standards for registered nurses, it is becoming a necessity not a luxury for nurses to return to school to complete the BSN degree. Hospital employers have almost ruled out the hiring of associate degree nurses, even requiring their current workforce to upgrade their degrees in a stipulated timeframe. Other employers will follow in a similar path, making it difficult for ADN-prepared nurses to secure jobs even in the current shortage. The BSN gives nurses a competitive advantage when it comes to opportunities and compensation.
Benefits of Progressing to a BSN Degree
An associate’s degree in nursing and years of experience as a registered nurse does not amount to job stability in today’s shaky economy. In fact, the projected shortage of nurses in no way guarantees continued employment for associate degree registered nurses. Going back to school seems to be the only way to qualify for a promotion or leadership opportunity when it arises. The bachelor’s degree offers opportunities, job security and satisfaction. Uncertainty or ambition may be the primary reason why more and more Maryland nurses with two-year degrees are enrolling in RN-BSN nursing programs to complete a bachelor’s degree. This nationwide trend is creating a better-educated army of nurses who have the advanced skills to meet the complexities in healthcare head-on.
New hiring practices in hospitals are having a significant effect on the education of the workforce. As leading hospitals pursue the prestigious Magnet Status to demonstrate their commitment to quality nursing care, they are pushing their staff to go back to school. Receiving Magnet status is contingent on the education of the nursing staff, which must be at a BSN level or above for nurses who hold supervisory positions. Better-educated nurses have been linked to positive patient outcomes, such as fewer deaths, as several studies show. It is based on this premise that guides the Magnet designation and influences employers decision to higher more BSNs. In response to industry demands, BSN programs have reported a 65% jump in enrollment, and the makeup of the workforce is shifting to a point where more than 70% are at the BSN level or above.
A nurse’s education, training, and action directly affect patients’ lives. The profession requires dedication, which includes awareness of the challenges within the industry, a conscious decision to place the needs to the patient first, willingness to collaborate with others for the best interest of all, and a willingness to learn. As ambassadors of health, nurses must be committed to get the best quality education to deliver care in an extremely complex system. The objective of associate’s degree program is to equip students with the basic skills to provide care and to succeed on the licensure exam. The baccalaureate program builds on that foundation to ensure nurses develop research, communication and leadership skills to use critical thinking and work with people of difference backgrounds or cultures. Patients come in all shapes and sizes. They’re independent, knowledgeable and complex, and as the main providers of care, nurses must be prepared to meet their needs.
Nurses must be ready to meet all kinds of illnesses and patients, especially as more Americans receive health care coverage. The baccalaureate degree prepares nurses with the added clinical, management, and critical thinking skills to manage complex cases. They also have training in public health and are able to educate patients in the prevention of diseases and promotion of health.
It’s close a decade ago when the Institute of Medicine recommended an increase in the number of nurses with a bachelor’s degree. The 2010 report made a call to have 80 percent of nurses to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher by 2020. The IOM believes the changing health care landscape requires better-educated nurses. As we approach 2020, surveys show that there has been a strong response to the recommendation as more nurses enroll in BSN programs.
Data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) show BSN graduate have a better chance at receiving job offers at the time of graduation. The study reveals that 59 percent of new BSNs had job offers when they graduated – which is significantly higher than the average for all professions. A poll of BSN graduates taken 3 to 6 months after graduation revealed than almost 89 percent had settled into nursing jobs. Compared to associate’s degree nurses, BSNs are finding positions at a significantly higher rate. Demand for BSNs will remain strong, as employers require higher levels of education to meet the public expectations of high quality care.
Many nurses put up roadblocks to explain their resistance for going back to school. Job, family commitment, lack of finance and age are just a few obstacles. However, recent collaborations between community colleges and universities help to ease the transition into the BSN degree. Some universities even facilitate classes in rural areas or inside hospitals to assist working RNs.
Despite the demand for higher academic degrees for nurses, the associate degree program will continue to thrive as it presents a fast and affordable entry to practice. The program will continue to produce a constant supply of nurses to fill critical positions as a wave of nurses retire. The RN-BSN program will become more critical as these graduates seek to upgrade their education to meet higher industry standards. It delivers flexible and affordable options for nurses who are committed to lifelong learning.
Requirements for Enrollment in an RN to BSN Program
RN to BSN programs offer registered nurses the opportunity to advance their careers by earning a bachelor’s degree. The advanced degree complements their professional experience, positioning nurses to take advantage of better job opportunities. Programs delivered in online format meet the professional needs and scheduling demands of working nurses. The curriculum supports the development of key competencies, including communication, critical thinking, scholarly inquiry, and evidenced-based practice.
Areas of study include nursing leadership, health in the community, adult learning theory and practice, physical assessment and pathophysiology, information technology, and nursing research. In addition to the core curriculum, students may need to complete additional requirements. Online nursing courses will be supplemented with on-site instruction on campus or at local hospitals. Transfer students may receive credit for the general education requirements and electives, which will reduce the time to complete the BSN. A clinical experience lets students apply their skills to community-focused care to identify health concerns, complete assessments, and apply the nursing process.
General overview of the requirements for admission:
- Complete the application for admission.
- Must be a registered nurse with a license in good standing.
- Present official college transcripts of all college-level courses.
- Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above – varies by program.
- Must have graduated from an accredited associate degree in nursing or diploma program.
- Submit a personal statement.
Baccalaureate degree students in Maryland can expect to pay $495 per credit. With the transfer of 70 to 90 credits – varies by school – the cost to complete a BSN is an estimated $15,500 to $27,895. The cost does not include fees, textbooks, uniform, transport, and supplies. Financial aid packages are available to eligible students.
Maryland RN to BSN Programs:
Baltimore, MD RN-BSN programs:
Notre Dame of Maryland University
4701 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21210
Coppin State University
2500 West North Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21216-3698
University of MD School of Nursing
655 West Lombard Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
Bowie, MD RN-BSN programs:
Bowie State University
14000 Jericho Park Road, Bowie, MD 20715-9465
Salisbury, MD RN-BSN programs:
Devilbiss Hall 235, 1101 Camden Avenue, Salisbury, MD 21801
Stevenson, MD RN-BSN programs:
1525Green Spring Valley Road, Stevenson, MD 21153-0641
Towson, MD RN-BSN programs:
8000 York Road, Towson, MD 21252