As health care employers and national nursing organizations placed increased emphasis on nurses earning a baccalaureate degree or higher, it may be time to consider enrolling in an RN to BSN program. The occupation as a whole face increased pressures, including nursing shortages and quality of care, which contribute to the call for better-educated nurses. One of two educational recommendations offered by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is to increase the number of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to a point where 80 percent of the workforce will have a BSN at minimum. The other recommendation is to double the number of nurses with doctoral degrees – for which the BSN will pave the way. As evidence-based practice gains momentum, the need for more BSN prepared nurses will become increasingly obvious. Other influencing factors are changing technology and the complexity of medical and surgical care, which require nurses to have an advanced skillset.
Nursing organizations use surveys and in-depth studies to validate the need for nurses to enhance their education and training to improve the delivery of care. Since nurses form the largest part of the healthcare system, it’s easy to understand why improving their educational attainment would ensure patient safety. In this age of complex diseases and heightened consumer awareness, it is obvious to stakeholders that ADN prepared nurses must pursue a BSN degree to meet the present and future demands of the profession. In the next decade, it may become difficult for ADNs to obtain employment even with the ongoing shortage of registered nurses. The associate’s degree remains the most common route for entry into nursing. Therefore, the competitiveness of enrollment in RN to BSN programs will increase as more nurses seek to enroll and attain a BSN to meet public demands.
Benefits of Progressing to a BSN Degree
Returning to school may seem pointless to nurses who are content with the level of care they provide. They enjoy their jobs, can do a lot more than new BSN graduates, and do not intend to apply for any position in management. So what’s the point of going back to school? While higher industry standards will ultimately influence the decision of approximately 45% of associate degree nurses to go back to school, results from one study suggest that nurses stand to gain more in the short and long-term. Nurses prepared at the bachelor’s degree or higher benefit from greater autonomy, recognition, and critical thinking, which will boost job satisfaction. Access to job advancement opportunities (whether they want it or not), better compensation, and a wider perspective of patient care are some other tangible rewards.
As the pressure from national organizations, policy-makers and employers mount, for nurses to attain a BSN degree at minimum, it is important to understand the reason for this call. In an Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report, “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System,” it is recorded that up to 98,000 patients die needlessly due to medical error. Systems and process problems seem to be a major problem, and one way to address them is through the implementation of proper solutions. Through the BSN program, nurses acquire the leadership and management skills to better implement solutions and catch potential problems before they become an issue. In the wake of this report, organizations, such as the Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) renewed their call for a higher percentage of the nursing workforce to be educated at the BSN level or to make the BSN a requirement for entry into practice.
Nurses need a BSN degree for employment in hospitals. The American Nurses Association developed a credible route to get employers on board with the IOM and AACN’s recommendation. Through the establishment of the Magnet Recognition Program to promote quality and excellence in patient care delivery in hospitals, the ANA now has some influence in the hiring practices in hospitals. Hospitals who participate in the Magnet program now have a higher percentage of BSN prepared nurses than ADN nurses. As more hospitals seek recognition, the tide will shift – or has already shifted – in favor of nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level. Professional development for nurses is the underlying impact of the program. The degree prepares students for the expanding role of a nurse, rapid changes in health care delivery, emphasis on community-centered care, and the prevention of diseases.
In Pennsylvania, almost 60 percent of RNs are prepared for practice at the associate degree level. Out of that number, only 31 percent return to school to pursue a BSN. Although advanced practice nurses have a substantial role in the health care workforce, they account for a small percentage of the entire nursing workforce. In the coming decades, as existing APRNs face retirement, the concern is who will be left to replace them? Having more nurses prepared at the BSN level will improve the outlook for the future of advanced practice nurses as some of them will have the foundational preparation to enroll in a graduate degree program to step into the role.
The RN-BSN program lets nurses seamlessly continue their nursing education. With easy enrollment and continuation of financial aid, most of the major hurdles to continued study are eliminated. Furthermore, as ADN graduates begin working in health care organizations, they may be entitled to tuition reimbursement, which will remove the strain of financing further studies. Some employers offer further incentives to facilitate staff development. These include flexible working schedules, tuition paid up front, paid sabbaticals, and a continuation of benefits with reduced working hours.
Finally, online RN-to-BSN degree programs facilitate access to nurses employed in rural communities who may not be within reach of a physical university. Most RNs are employed full-time, so online education becomes more flexible than on-site sessions. The proliferation of BSN completion programs, and particularly those available in online format, has influenced the decision of most nurses to return to school. In just three years enrollment in the program has almost doubled, according to one report. Getting a BSN degree or higher will increase a nurse’s quality of life. It will positively affect one’s patient care outlook and open the door to a world of possibilities in nursing.
Requirements for Enrollment in an RN to BSN Program
For working RNs, pursuing the BSN is the first step towards professional growth. The online RN to BSN program allows flexibility in scheduling and may be completed in two years or less. The nursing principles learned throughout the program may be immediately applied on the job. The degree requires 120 credits – 30 will be applied from nursing courses taken in the diploma or associate degree program. Additional credits will be transferred from the general education and science courses. Students who have not completed the general education requirements will need not to catch up before commencing the 30 to 35 credit hours of core nursing courses.
The goal of the BSN program is to help RNs develop advanced critical thinking and communication skills in addition to theoretical knowledge. Graduates are able to take on leadership roles and affirm the core values of the profession.
General overview of the requirements for admission:
- Be a graduate of an accredited associate degree nursing program or hospital-based diploma program.
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Have a minimum GPA of 2.0 from the previous nursing program.
- Must be employed in the health care setting and have a nursing license or temporary work permit.
- Submit official transcripts of all college-level coursework.
Tuition per credit is approximately $350. Nursing students must budget for additional expenses, including textbooks, supplies, and other miscellaneous costs.
Pennsylvania RN to BSN Programs:
Allentown, PA RN-BSN Programs:
Cedar Crest College
100 College Drive, Allentown, PA 18104
Aston, PA RN-BSN Programs:
One Neumann Drive, Aston, PA 19014-1298
Bethlehem, PA RN-BSN Programs:
1200 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018
Center Valley, PA RN-BSN Programs:
2755 Station Avenue, Center Valley, PA 18034
Chester, PA RN-BSN Programs:
One University Place, Chester, PA 19013
Clarion, PA RN-BSN Programs:
40 Wood Street, Clarion, PA 16214
Cresson, PA RN-BSN Programs:
Mount Aloysius College
7373 Admiral Peary Highway, Cresson, PA 16630-1999
Dallas, PA RN-BSN Programs:
301 Lake Street, Dallas, PA 18612
East Stroudsburg, PA RN-BSN Programs:
East Stroudsburg University
200 Prospect Street, East Stroudsburg, PA 18301-2999
Edinboro, PA RN-BSN Programs:
219 Meadville Street, Edinboro, PA 16444
Erie, PA RN-BSN Programs:
109 University Square, Erie, PA 16541
Gwynedd, PA RN-BSN Programs:
Gwynedd Mercy University
1325 Sumneytown Pike, Gwynedd Valley, PA 19437
Immaculate, PA RN-BSN Programs:
1145 King Road, Immaculate, PA 19345
Indiana, PA RN-BSN Programs:
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
1011 South Drive, Indiana, PA 15705
Lancaster, PA RN-BSN Programs:
Eastern Mennonite University
PO Box 10936, Lancaster, PA 17605-0936
Mansfield, PA RN-BSN Programs:
31 South Academy Street, Suite- 1, Mansfield, PA 16933
Millersville, PA RN-BSN Programs:
P.O. Box 1002, Millersville, PA 17551-0302
Philadelphia, PA RN-BSN Programs:
Holy Family University
9801 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19114
La Salle University
1900 West Olney Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19141
1316 West Ontario Street, 3rd Floor, Jones Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19140
Thomas Jefferson University
1020 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
The University of Pennsylvania
3451 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Pittsburgh, PA RN-BSN Programs:
La Roche College
9000 Babcock Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15237-5808
3333 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Woodland Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Reading, PA RN-BSN Programs:
400 Saint Bernardine Street, Reading, PA 19607
St David, PA RN-BSN Programs:
1300 Eagle Road, St. David, PA 19087-3696
Scranton, PA RN-BSN Programs:
300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509
The University of Scranton
800 Linden St, Scranton, PA 18510
Titusville, PA RN-BSN Programs:
University of Pittsburgh
504 East Main Street, Titusville, PA 16354
University Park, PA RN-BSN Programs:
Pennsylvania State University
201 Health and Human Development East, University Park, PA 16802
Villanova, PA RN-BSN Programs:
800 East Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085
Waynesburg, PA RN-BSN Programs:
51 West College Street, Waynesburg, PA 15370
West Chester, PA RN-BSN Programs:
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
700 South High Street, West Chester, PA 19383
Williamsport, PA RN-BSN Programs:
Pennsylvania College of Technology
One College Avenue, Williamsport, PA 17701
York, PA RN-BSN Programs:
York College of Pennsylvania
441 Country Club Road, York, PA 17403-3651