What Is a BSN Nurse?
A BSN nurse is a registered nurse who holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. However, a BSN nurse is far more than the holder of a degree. In this role, you're regarded as a professional who has been well-trained in performing nursing assessments, completing medical procedures, developing leadership skills, and practicing patient management.
If you're considering a career in nursing, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing has some distinct advantages over a nursing diploma or associate's degree in nursing. A review of nursing studies conducted in 2013 by the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, a health research organization, concluded that registered nurses who hold a BSN provide a higher level of patient care, and there were decreased mortality rates in hospitals that had a higher percentage of BSN nurses.
Nurses with a BSN can also qualify for a wider range of jobs in health care. Some hospitals require nurses to have a BSN, and even those that don't may require a BSN for a few positions, such as clinical supervisors. In addition, some states are now moving to require bachelor's degrees for nurses within a specific time frame after beginning their practice. The Institute of Medicine has issued a policy recommendation that by the year 2020, 80% of nurses working in the field possess a bachelor's degree.
The annual salary for those holding a bachelor of science in nursing in any subspecialty of nursing are generally higher than the national average. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median salary for RNs in 2017 was $70,000, regardless of their degree level, though salaries for nurses with a BSN were reportedly higher.
Some variables that influence overall pay for registered nurses include which pathway was used to enter the field, which subspecialty of nursing is practiced, the type of workplace setting, years of experience, and location. The highest paying states for RNs include California ($101,260), Hawaii ($90,130), Massachusetts ($8,650), and Alaska ($88,510).
RN vs. BSN Salary
Registered nurses who enter the field with a diploma of nursing can expect an hourly rate of $22 per hour on average, compared with nurses who possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, who earn an average of $31 per hour. Some of the variance in pay may be related to the administrative and specialty roles nurses with a BSN can take, and the fact that magnet hospitals are required to hire nurses with the BSN credential. RNs with an associate's degree average $26 per hour, making the salary difference for an ADN vs BSN slightly narrower.
Registered nurses holding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing have a wide range of nursing career options. When you're considering where you want to work, think about the types of people you enjoy serving, what level of pressure you thrive under, the type of practice setting you prefer, and the areas of specialization that interest you.
Neonatal Nurse Salary
- Median salary: $62,111
With a BSN, you could consider a job as a neonatal nurse. In this role, you'd care for infants born prematurely from the time they are born until the time they are discharged from the hospital and possibly beyond if there are long-term complications. You'll typically work in a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). Advanced certification as a neonatal nurse is available through the National Certification Commission. You need two years of experience as a registered nurse providing neonatal care to qualify for the exam to earn this certification.
Pediatric Nurse Salary
- Median salary: $56,649
If you enjoy working with children, you might consider a nursing specialty as a pediatric nurse. Pediatric nurses work in a variety of settings with children from birth through adolescence. Pediatric nurses monitor children's health and development, administer immunizations, and educate children on growing up healthy. Certification is available through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. To test for certification, you must have an RN and at least 1,800 hours of pediatric nursing experience.
Oncology Nurse Salary
- Median salary: $78,612
Oncology nurses specialize in providing care for patients with cancer. As an oncology nurse, you'd integrate the various aspects of medical and community care that a cancer patient receives. This can include educating patients on medical procedures and therapies and providing direct care to patients, such as delivering and managing cancer treatments. The Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation offers advanced certification for oncology nurses. To achieve this distinction, you must be a registered nurse for at least one year, have at least 1,000 hours of oncology nursing practice, and pass an examination.
ER Nurse Salary
- Median salary: $68,120
If you like constant variety and a fast-paced environment, a good option for you might be an emergency room nurse. You'll need to think quickly in the face of life-threatening illnesses or trauma to offer appropriate care. Emergency room nurses must be comfortable administering a wide range of emergency procedures, including CPR and setting broken bones. In addition to emergency rooms, ER nurses can work on ambulance crews or at urgent care centers. The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing offers a Certified Emergency Nurse credential to registered nurses who pass an exam regarding emergency procedures. Two years' experience is recommended, but not required, prior to taking the examination.
School Nurse Salary
- Median salary: $45,568
If you like working with kids but are looking for a more structured schedule than that of a pediatric nurse, becoming a school nurse might be for you. The average salary is a bit lower than other specialties, but you can enjoy the benefits of a school year calendar. School nurses focus on keeping school children healthy, reviewing student's health and vaccination histories, conducting vision and hearing screenings, and administering first aid for injuries that occur during the school day. You might also be responsible for serving on an educational team, planning an appropriate learning program for students with serious health concerns. You'll typically need both RN licensure and state licensure to be a school nurse, and you can pursue optional certification through the National Board for Certification of School Nurses.
Surgical Nurse Salary
- Median salary: $70,926
Working as a surgical nurse could appeal to you if you'd like to participate in medical innovation in the operating room. These nurses prep patients for surgery, assist during procedures, and ensure that post-operative care is available. Certification for surgical nurses is available through the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board after you've been a registered nurse with at least 2 years of practice in surgical nursing and passed an exam.
Hospice Nurse Salary
- Median salary: $61,889
If caring for those who are terminally ill is part of what led you to consider a career in nursing, you might think about a specialty as a hospice nurse. Hospice nurses provide nursing support, including pain management and emotional care, to patients with a diagnosis providing less than six months of life. Once you've become an RN and completed a minimum of 500 hours of hospice nursing practice, you can earn a certification through the Hospice and Pallative Nurses Foundation.
Home Care Nursing Salary
- Median salary: $70,987
Home care nurses typically work with chronically ill or older patients in their homes. They may monitor the patient's conditions, provide care for wounds, or administer various intravenous medications. A home care nurse may also examine the safety of the home and educate the patient on self-care. As a home care nurse, you'd typically perform technical procedures, administer medications, and assess a client's health.
Occupational Health Nurse Salary
- Median salary: $75,497
Occupational health nurses focus on providing care for workers in a range of industries. As an occupational health nurse, you might provide educational programs for employees on workplace hazards, provide care for injuries that occur in the workplace, and aid with rehabilitation if an injury occurs. You might also have an investigative role in determining whether a health condition is work related and documenting these findings. Certification as an occupational health nurse is available through the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses. To qualify for the certification exam, you'll need to be a registered nurse, have completed of a certificate program in occupational health nursing, and have worked as an occupational health nurse for over 3,000 hours.
What Can You Do with a BSN Degree Besides Nursing?
If you have your BSN and some nursing experience, but you're interested in branching out into an alternative non-nursing occupation, you can qualify for a few positions in the healthcare field. The skills that you have developed as a registered nurse, including the ability to understand a range of medical conditions, interact with other health care professionals, maintain clinical records, and empathizing with clients are transferable to other, related jobs.
- Clinical documentation specialists work with health care facilities to ensure that records are kept in compliance with federal and state regulations, and that health care providers have access to the records. The median salary is $69,349 for these professionals.
- Legal nurse consultants work with attorneys on litigation matters that require knowledge of medical conditions, such as medical malpractice or worker's compensation cases. They must be able to review and understand complex health records. The median salary for legal nurse consultants is $74,461.
- Pharmaceutical sales representatives travel throughout assigned regions to build relationships with health care providers in order to educate them on pharmaceutical products provided by their companies. They must maintain records and documentation of both needs of clients and sales. The median salary for a pharmaceutical sales representative is $76,747.
Salary statistics from PayScale.com, 2018