There is good news for registered nurses (RNs) wondering if a graduate degree is worth the investment. Degrees such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) offer big payoffs, including a higher earning potential. In fact, some of the highest-paying nursing careers require at least a master's.
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is typically required for graduate nursing programs, and RN to BSN bridge programs are making it easier for nursing professionals to get there. The University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM), for example, offers an RN to BSN that students can earn in as few as 14 months. With a flexible online format, ULM's RN to BSN program provides a more convenient way for working nurses to advance their education and their career.
What Is an RN to BSN Bridge Program?
There is a growing expectation that RNs hold at least a BSN. In fact, many hospitals now require or prefer RNs with a BSN or higher. Yet, going back to school full time to earn a BSN is not a realistic option for most working RNs. This is where the RN to BSN comes in.
RN to BSN bridge programs make higher levels of education achievable for busy nursing professionals. A major benefit of RN to BSN programs is that RNs with a diploma or associate degree can earn their BSN without going back to school for a traditional BSN program. Typical admission requirements include:
- Completion of a nationally accredited diploma or associate degree nursing program.
- RN licensure in good standing.
An online RN to BSN program such as ULM's also makes it possible for RNs to balance the requirements of school with an already busy schedule.
Why Does Accreditation Matter?
There is a lot to consider when it comes to choosing a nursing program. Accreditation is one of them. Nursing programs participate in the accreditation process on a voluntary basis. Accreditation from a national accrediting agency such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) signals a commitment to high standards.
Accreditation is important for several reasons:
The cost of college is a common concern. Many students rely on loans and grants to achieve their educational goals. However, students attending unaccredited programs offered by institutions that are sometimes called "diploma mills," may not qualify for the financial aid they need. Federal financial aid, for example, typically requires accreditation by an agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education.
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations naturally want to hire the most qualified candidates. Choosing an accredited program ensures that the degree will be recognized. Earning a BSN from a nationally accredited program is also likely to give RNs an edge when it comes to job prospects.
A master's degree or higher is becoming the expectation for RNs who want to further their careers and pursue an advanced practice role such as nurse practitioner. In this case, admission requirements will include a BSN from an accredited institution. Credits from non-accredited programs are unlikely to be accepted.
The AACN cites evidence linking BSN-educated nurses to better patient outcomes, including fewer preventable medical errors and a "substantial survival advantage." One reason is that BSN programs emphasize the higher-level competencies required to provide quality care in today's complex healthcare environments. Developing an evidence-based practice is one example.
RN to BSN programs can be the way to go for nursing professionals who want to advance their education and their career. With a BSN in hand, RNs can continue on to graduate degrees that open the door to even greater opportunities.
Learn more about ULM's online RN to BSN program.
Sources:American Association of Colleges of Nursing: The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice
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