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As recognition grows for nurses and their many contributions, opportunities to develop a nursing career become more readily available. If you are a registered nurse who wants to advance your career, consider online RN to BSN programs. To qualify for these programs, you must have an associate's degree in nursing or received a diploma from a qualified school. You also need current registered nurse (RN) licensure and to be working in a clinical setting.
Once accepted into a program, you'll work toward your bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN). You'll study a broad array of medical topics and will learn how to handle complex procedures. Upon graduation, you should benefit from having a four-year degree, hopefully earned in much less time. Most RN to BSN programs can be completed in two years or less, depending on your personal schedule. Because this is such a popular degree, there are many different online programs.
THE CAREER PATH
One of the great aspects of nursing, from a professional’s perspective, is that once you are licensed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) through the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), it is easy to advance your career in nursing at any point that is most convenient for you.
Earning an RN to BSN online degree will help you move forward in your career. If you are currently working at a hospital or physician's office, you may receive a pay increase just for having a BSN. In furthering your education to a bachelor’s degree, you will expand on your existing skills in providing high quality patient care. You may be given a more direct role in administering medications, educating other nurses, and assisting physicians during surgical procedures. Over time, you could move up into a leadership role as a clinical nurse manager or nursing director.
Common BSN job responsibilities are:
- Directly communicating with patients and their families
- Recording and reporting medical observations and patient information
- Consulting and collaborating with doctors and other healthcare professionals
- Operating and monitoring medical equipment
Now is a great time for the nursing profession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 26% growth in employment opportunities through 2020. Pay should remain high for RNs and BSNs, as well. The BLS notes that nurses average $67,000 in annual wages. If you're in a management position, you should earn even more.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Nurses are the unsung heroes of our community. Nurses educate the members of our communities and their families to prevent and treat illnesses. Nurses are the middleman between the doctor and patient relationship that guarantee that patients receive compassionate and competent care.
Nurses come from all different backgrounds to help for totally different reasons. Nurses can choose to specialize in a demographic or type of healthcare that best suits their interests, which makes this career appealing to a diverse collection of individuals.
Nursing may be flexible, but it isn’t easy—students who aim to be nurses are usually hard workers, ready to learn a lot and gain experience. Nursing requires communication skills along with compassion and the ability to provide clear instructions. Nurses exemplify emotional stability when dealing with human suffering, emergencies, and a multitude of other stressors. Aspiring nurses must also have the physical stamina necessary to be comfortable performing tasks such as moving patients and standing for long periods of time.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
If you are currently working at a hospital or clinic, you may be able to tap into your company’s tuition assistance program. This way you can continue to work, but also earn an online BSN degree. Many of these programs are particularly sensitive to the fact that you're currently employed and will help you juggle both work and school. Look for an online RN to BSN program that is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Nurses will build the foundation of their knowledge during the basic education obtained in a nursing diploma or associate’s degree program. Program topics include community health and special issues in nursing, such as women's health, pediatrics and underserved populations. You may have to perform healthcare-related research, as well. According to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), RN to BSN programs focus on three fundamental areas:
- Professional Development, through courses such as Nursing Leadership
- Skill Building, through courses such as Anatomy and Physiology, that allow nurses to broaden their practice and treat a wider range of patients
- Cultural Awareness, through courses such as Ethics in Nursing or Community Health Care and Development, so that nurses can have a core understanding of the racial, religious, and socioeconomic factors that influence the delivery of healthcare
Nurses that pursue a BSN also have the opportunity to specialize their education to best serve the demographic or medical arena that they are most interested in. The United States Department of Labor includes a list of specialties that nurses can shape their career for, including:
- Addiction Nursing
- Cardiovascular Nursing
- Rehabilitation Nursing
- Genetics Nursing
- Critical-Care Nursing
Clinicals are a required part of an online RN to BSN program. These practicums will likely have to take place outside of your normal workplace.
GetEducated’s rankings reveal the national average tuition for an online BSN program is $44,211. However, RN to BSN programs can cost as little as $19,715 or as much as $90,074! Remember that high tuition does not always equal high quality. The tuition costs you see below include total tuition and all fees, including online learning technology fees.