The unprecedented shortage of nurses, caused by the number of retiring nurses and the rising health care needs of the aging population, makes it a great time to further your education and qualify for jobs that require a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Nurses are needed to educate and care for patients who are experiencing more healthcare complexities than ever before. Older Americans are suffering from multiple chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, dementia, and obesity, and nurses must assume the important role of a patient educator. In this role, more than any other, they will help alleviate the fears of patients and their loved ones as they confidently provide answers to questions surrounding their health. Nurses interact with patients a lot more than doctors do, so it is natural that they are the best source of counsel during difficult times.
The BSN program includes intense preparation that equips nurses with the skills to communicate the details of a diagnosis to patients and their families and offer counsel on what the diagnosis means. Through public health modules in the program, nurses will also learn how to go into communities and demonstrate methods of health promotion and disease prevention to lower admission rates. In outpatient settings, nurses can share important information related to oral medication, such as the avoidance of alcohol, side effects, when and how to take medication, and other protocols to restore health without any adverse reactions from the medication.
Pre and post-operative care is also critical. Several independent studies found that patient outcomes improved when patients receive care from BSN nurses. Using their knowledge, critical thinking, evidence-based data, and clinical judgments, nurses can prep patients for the best outcomes during and after surgery. The care provided by BSN nurses has been linked to a decrease in patient mortality, shorter hospital stays, reduction in congestive health failure mortality, pressure ulcers, postoperative deep vein thrombosis, and failure to rescue. BSNs also reduce healthcare costs and facilitate faster discharges for patients.
Why get a BSN? Times are changing quickly, and the growing complexities in health care make the BSN a necessity for nurses who want to maintain and broaden their role in the fast-changing landscape of the health care industry.
Benefits of Progressing to a BSN Degree
Returning to school after an extensive break is not an easy decision. Many nurses recognize the need for the BSN but resist the idea due to finances, schedule, age, and fear of the unknown. If you’re open to the idea of going back to school but not fully convinced, the following are some strong reasons to enroll in a BSN program right now.
If you’re a seasoned nurse with some years of practice, you probably discovered that there were some things lacking in the associate degree in nursing program. The ADN offers a fast-track preparation for basic nursing and eligibility for the NCLEX. The curriculum lacks key nursing courses, such as evidence-based practice and leadership, which helps nurses to provide better patient care and improve patient outcomes. The BSN rounds out the foundational education and paves the way for leadership opportunities and advanced nursing programs. In this light, the BSN is truly a critical round on the ladder to success.
According to figures published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected employment for nurses will exceed 3.3 million by 2026. The numbers reflect new positions to fill growing health care needs as well as a replacement for retirees. To meet these demands, hospitals are recruiting more BSN nurses. Several factors account for the preference shown to BSN nurses. Foremost is the recommendation published in The Future of Nursing: Leading Change published by the Institute of Medicine, where the IOM urged that at least 80 percent of registered nurses hold a BSN degree by 2020. Far from being an arbitrary request as some suggest, the recommendation sought to improve patient outcomes and prepare nurses to better meet the complexities in health that will arise in the upcoming years. Technological advances in health care not only improve the delivery of services, but also extend the life expectancy of those suffering from chronic illnesses. Patients with multiple chronic illnesses often spend more time in the hospital, which spurs demand for the nurses who have demonstrated the leadership and clinical judgment developed in the BSN program.
Since the publication of the report, employers have indicated a strong preference for the BSN graduate. Some of them maintain vacant positions and reduce the capacity of their services even when there’s a large pool of ADN nurses from which to select. Internally, BSNs are selected for promotions and key assignments due to their advanced training. This practice is not limited to just hospitals as federal agencies, healthcare foundations, nursing organizations, and advocacy groups all recognize the value that BSNs bring to the table.
Nurses form the largest sector in the health care workforce, and they spend the most time attending to patients’ needs. Their actions and decisions have a major role in patient outcomes. According to several studies, their education has a significant impact on the quality of care and patient outcomes. Several studies show that patient outcomes improve when units have a higher proportion of BSN nurses. In one study, patients had lower incidences of pressure ulcers, infections, post-surgical deep vein thrombosis, and fatalities when cared for by BSN nurses. The publication of these studies influenced numerous employers to hire more BSNs to improve the quality of care. A natural result has been a sharp increase in the BSN workforce as more nurses return to school and choose the pre-licensure BSN alternative to get a head start on their career.
A major appeal for employers is the broader scope of practice of BSN nurses. The community health studies covered in the BSN program enables graduates to care for patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings. After completing the degree, you’ll have opportunities that were previously not open to a nurse with an associate degree. If you’re eager to leave bedside care, you can pursue positions in health care recruiting, nurse case management, or risk management. Or if clinical care is a passion for you, specialty training to work in pediatrics, surgical care, or some other area may be rewarding.
BSN graduates saw a bump in their paychecks shortly after completing the degree. Of course, the pay hike will depend on your position and whether you take on additional responsibilities at work. Bedside RNs earned an average of $67,520, while nurse care managers and supervisors made an average of $85,480, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figures show that nurses with a bachelor’s degree typically has a higher salary than those with an associate’s degree in nursing. Apart from salaries, BSN nurses also receive better benefits when they are promoted to management positions.
When it comes to furthering your nursing education, the sooner you do it, the better. Your conviction and drive will diminish with time, and so will your ability to retain information. As the goal of increasing the BSN workforce to 80% looms, there’s still lots of support from employers to advance nursing education. If you make the decision now, you might benefit from employer-covered tuition and other benefits that will eliminate the obstacles to study. Take advantage of these opportunities now, as they may not be available in the future.
The fear that going back to school will interrupt your already busy work schedule may be holding you back. But advancing your education is not as hard as you think. Online RN to BSN programs makes study possible for nurses who must balance full-time practice with responsibilities at home. The program facilitates self-paced study, so you can go as fast or slow as your schedule allows.
Education is critical to career advancement in the nursing. The BSN is the key to new job opportunities, future promotions, and specialized practice through graduate and post-graduate degrees. In light of the national nursing shortage, the BSN will prepare you to choose from a wider pool of opportunities available in DC and across the nation. Seek counsel from your nurse manager, do your research, and choose from the multitude of quality online RN to BSN programs that will give you the flexibility to complete your degree and advance your career.
Requirements for Enrollment in an RN to BSN Program
The RN to BSN program builds on your associate degree coursework and general education courses so that you can complete the requirements for a BSN in just 21 to 30 credit hours. Your professional portfolio may provide additional credits for advanced placement in the program. Upon completion of the BSN, some courses may be eligible for graduate credit if you decide to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing.
The flexibility of online RN-BSN programs will support your goal of continuing your studies while balancing your work and family commitments. The curriculum aids the development of advanced knowledge and skills outside of the clinical component of nursing. It seeks to provide a foundation in nursing leadership, evidence-based care, health policy, and patient safety to improve your marketability, especially among Magnet hospitals.
The RN to BSN is specially designed for nurses seeking to further their education while continuing to practice in their capacity as a bedside nurse. Applicants must have an associate degree or diploma in nursing to gain admission to the program.
- A completed application and fee
- Demonstrate academic excellence with a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale
- Hold a license to practice as a registered nurse
- Complete the prerequisite coursework with a grade C or better – microbiology, human anatomy and physiology, statistics, nutrition, ethics, etc.
- Attend a new student orientation
- An associate degree or diploma in nursing from an accredited program
The tuition for resident students enrolled in the RN to BSN program at the University of the District of Columbia is $4,030 per semester for 12 or more credits or $730 per credit hour. Financial aid packages are available to eligible students.
District of Columbia RN to BSN Programs:
Washington, DC RN to BSN programs:
Howard University Division of Nursing
2041 Georgia Avenue, Washington, DC 20060
Trinity Washington University
125 Michigan Avenue, Northeast, Washington, DC 20017
University of the District of Columbia
4200 Connecticut Avenue, Northwest, Washington, DC 20008