RN to BSN programs build on the initial nursing preparation with coursework that enhances the basic nursing knowledge obtained from the RN degree. Applicants to an RN to BSN program must have current licensure in order to be accepted into online programs, many of which can be completed in as little as 16 months. Programs are a mix of online courses and hands-on clinical training at approved locations.
Information and Requirements
Students pursuing an online RN to BSN must be self-directed, motivated and organized. In addition to traditional online coursework, students engage in online community discussions groups where they may complete group projects, debate best practices and provide peer guidance and support. Students should plan to spend 3-9 hours per week on each class. Professors offer regular online office hours to assist students and foster an inclusive, classroom feel.
In addition to online coursework, students are required to complete clinical, hands-on patient care that demonstrates a mastery of coursework and the ability to translate it into practice. These practicums are arranged through participating, accredited health centers convenient to students and are conducted under the supervision of a program-affiliated nurse practitioner.
Students can expect to take courses in the following areas, which develop a nurse's clinical reasoning and analytical skills:
- Health assessment
- Concepts and processes for contemporary nursing
- Clinical concepts in population-focused nursing
- Exploring complementary/alternative practices
- Nursing research and statistics for evidence-based practice
- Nursing informatics
- Nursing leadership and management in health care
- Issues in nursing practice
According to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, research has demonstrated that lower mortality rates, fewer errors and higher quality outcomes are all linked to nurses who hold a bachelor's degree or higher. Because of this, a bachelor's degree is now preferred at most advanced health centers, including magnet hospitals and academic medical centers. Many specific nursing roles also require a BSN, including the following positions:
- Nurse educator
- Nurse supervisor
- Nurse clinician
- Unit manager
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, generally, RNs with at least a bachelor's degree have better job prospects, choice of shifts and salaries than those without. As cost controls shift more of the primary care role of physicians to nurses, those with a bachelor's degree will be in greater demand as clinicians.
Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree can also facilitate entry to graduate school for advance practice nursing in high demand areas. These could include specialties such as nurse midwife, nurse practitioner and nurse anesthetist.
Online RN to BSN programs are available, but a hands-on clinical element is usually required. Students complete coursework on nursing practices, patient assessment and nursing research as they prepare for additional career responsibilities.