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What is a BSN Degree?

Learn More About the RN to BSN Program

As an RN, you’re in high demand. Registered nurse jobs are expected to grow by 15% through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than twice as fast as the job growth rate for all positions (7%).

Still, even as opportunity increases for nurses, competition grows – meaning registered nurses must determine how to differentiate themselves from a crowded field. One way to do that is to earn an RN with a BSN degree.


See sample RN to BSN curriculum.


A Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is an excellent way to enhance your skill set in a field that requires and rewards advanced skills.

As a nurse with a BSN degree, not only will you have new opportunities in today’s competitive job market, but you’ll also position yourself for the most desirable positions. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing allows you to move from the level of technical nursing practice to the level of professional nursing practice, and it provides an academic springboard to more-specialized careers – as well as a route toward earning a coveted Master of Science in Nursing.

You may already be working in a specialization like cardiac care, case management, neonatology, ICU or emergency room, and you need additional skills to move up. Or, you might be thinking about a new challenge. A BSN degree offers you the most flexibility, especially in this tough economy, when promotions are not as plentiful.

Now more than ever, you need to stand out above your colleagues vying for the same position. Many states are moving toward a BSN requirement for new RNs. Eventually, a BSN is expected to become the nationwide minimum standard for all nurses to qualify for jobs in hospitals and some physician specialty offices.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that 80% of nurses hold a BSN by the year 2020. The American Association of Colleges in Nursing (AACN) issued a position statement in 2017 that read, in part:

“The (AACN) strongly believes that registered nurses should be minimally prepared with the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or equivalent nursing degree (e.g., BS in Nursing, BA in Nursing).”

The Value of a BSN Degree

A BSN degree provides you with a broad education in management and leadership – two knowledge bases employers actively seek. If you work for a magnet designated facility, a BSN degree may be essential if you want to move to a management role.

Leadership skills serve as an asset when you lead a task force or are part of a committee. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing education can provide you with the insight and confidence to excel in these settings.

As a nurse, you focus not only on a health problem, but also on the patient and how he/she responds to the treatment. The objective is to provide excellent, informed patient care. A BSN offers you a broad base of scientific knowledge that’s indispensable. Improved clinical skills and assessment skills are basic requirements to practice in the healthcare system of tomorrow. This means nurses with a BSN degree are – and will continue to be – in high demand.

Research has shown that the in-depth training undertaken by BSN graduates has a favorable effect on health outcomes. In 2001, a survey in the Journal of Nursing Education showed that “baccalaureate-prepared nurses demonstrated stronger synthesis and application of knowledge and leadership skills.”

In 2003, in a Journal of the American Medical Association study, researchers found a “clear link between higher levels of nursing education and better patient outcomes.” That study reported that in hospitals that increased the proportion of BSN nurses by 10%, the risk of patient death and failure to rescue was reduced by 5%.

In 2017, a BMJ Quality & Safety report concluded that a “greater proportion of professional nurses at the bedside is associated with better outcomes for patients and nurses.” Furthermore, the study reported that “reducing nursing skill mix by adding assistive personnel without professional nurse qualifications may contribute to preventable deaths, erode care quality and contribute to nurse shortages.”

How a BSN Degree can Affect Your Healthcare Career

A BSN degree may get you a rung higher in your clinical ladder program. Or, a baccalaureate degree could land you a job in the ICU, ED or the OR where there may be a specialty pay differential. In personal, professional and financial terms, a BSN is the key whether you are a bedside expert or hospital manager.

The AACN lists a number of tangible advantages BSN nurses enjoy:

  • Greater skill in the application of knowledge
  • Stronger leadership qualities
  • More efficient case management ability
  • More effective health promotion

In addition, the AACN points out that the unique value of BSN-prepared nurses is recognized by “nurse executives, federal agencies, military decision makers, leading nursing organizations, healthcare foundations, magnet hospitals and minority nurse advocate groups.”

According to a non-scientific survey conducted in 2017 by the online journal Daily Nurse, nurses with a BSN earned an average of $74,813, while those with only an associate-level degree earned an average of $70,000 (which also was the median nurse salary reported by the BLS for 2017).

Salary information and job availability varies by many factors, including geography and economic conditions. Students and job seekers should perform their own research.

Another factor in earning a BSN is the nursing school’s accreditation – or lack thereof. Jacksonville University’s Keigwin School of Nursing is a member of the AACN and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The BSN and MSN programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.

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