For years now, bachelor’s degree holders have been gaining the upper hand on traditional registered nurses when it comes to career opportunities. In 2010, the National Academy of Medicine recommended that 80 percent of all nurses should have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing by 2020 (at the time the share was about 50 percent) in order to improve the quality of care at doctor’s offices, clinics, hospitals and other medical facilities.
There are signs that a broad shift is underway toward the BSN. A study published in Nursing Economics in 2015 revealed that in 2011, the number of nursing students earning BSNs surpassed the total graduating with associate degrees (a common credential for RNs) for the first time ever. Likewise, a survey by the California Board of Registered Nursing found that 61.5 percent of the Golden State’s nurses had at least a BSN in 2014, up from 53 percent in 2012.
The growing popularity of the BSN is a testament to both its economic and professional development advantages for nurses and the high level of demand for it from health care providers. There are many benefits to the BSN track, so let’s zero in on four of them that are especially relevant in 2017:
1. Superior technical nursing skills
A higher number of BSNs on staff is tightly correlated with better outcomes for patients, according to the Academic Progression in Nursing Programs. BSNs help improve specific metrics such as patient mortality and morbidity rates, plus they excel at diagnoses and nursing interventions, thanks to the broad set of skills they refine throughout their degree programs.
For example, a 2003 article in Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrated that a 10 percent increase in the share of nurses with a BSN produced a 5 percent decrease in the likelihood of a patient dying within 30 days of admission. These statistics were cited in a presentation by the Organization of Nurse Leaders of New Jersey advocating changes to professional requirements for nurses.
2. Compliance with state-level regulations
The BSN is at the center of a long-term push by nursing associations to get state legislatures to raise educational requirements for their professions. So-called “BSN in 10” bills mandate that nurses obtain a BSN within 10 years of initial licensure. These bills have been previously introduced in statehouses in New York and New Jersey.
In Texas, legislation has taken a slightly different direction. A bill signed into law in June 2017 allows certain public junior colleges to grant baccalaureate degrees in in-demand fields, including nursing. Opening up a new pipeline for BSNs could help Texas address a looming shortage of nurses, with demand outpacing supply by 60,000 by 2030, according to the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies.
3. Greater compensation
Nurses with BSNs are qualified for advanced positions that offer more generous salaries than the ones open to standard RNs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs had a median salary of $68,450 in 2016, which is above the national median but below what advanced degree holders can earn.
A BSN lays the groundwork for a Master of Nursing Science, a credential that opens the door to higher paying senior career tracks. The BLS groups these positions under the banner of nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners, which have a median 2016 salary of more than $107,000. Plus, they were forecast to have a 31 percent increase in employment between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average for all professions.
4. More appeal to hospitals
Many hospitals prefer to hire BSNs, since it helps them maintain a more educated workforce. With more BSNs around, hospitals also improve their chances of being accepted into the Magnet Recognition Program overseen by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association), since the program requires certain leadership positions to have BSNs.
“Many hospitals prefer to hire BSNs.”
Students have noticed the change in how health care providers hire nurses. Between 2002 and 2012, enrollment in RN-to-BSN programs more than tripled, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Legislation such as the Texas bill we talked about earlier also speak to the surging demand for BSNs currently.
Start on the BSN track today at Gwynedd Mercy University
GMercyU offers an accelerated BSN program that gives you the preparation and the credentials you need to excel in today’s job market for nurses. Courses in evidence-based nursing, pharmacology and nursing care of different populations (i.e., adults, children and families) build a strong base for clinical and conceptual expertise.
Visit the main program page today and contact an admissions counselor for more information on how to get started.