Many nurses enter the health care field by completing an associate degree or a hospital diploma program, then passing the NCLEX to become an RN. While this is the quickest path to a career in registered nursing, it can also be the most limiting. Whether you are seeking a promotion or looking for a new job, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is often required for the best opportunities.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that 82% of hospitals and health care employers now prefer to hire BSN-prepared nurses. One reason is that BSN RNs have additional knowledge in areas such as research and evidence-based practice. They also bring skills in care planning and coordination to their role, and they understand how to adapt best practices to a wide range of health care settings.
If you’ve risen to the level of unit or department manager without a BSN, the degree may take your career further. Growing your leadership, innovation and cultural competency skills with a bachelor’s can help you chart a path to your next success. Your employer may even offer tuition reimbursement as an incentive to earn the degree.
Online RN to BSN programs are designed to help busy nurses complete their degree while working full time. Courses are accelerated so students can move through material quickly, learn faster and still have time for patients, friends and family. Follow the links below to learn more about the RN to BSN degree and the benefits of earning it online.
What Is an RN to BSN Program?
The RN to BSN degree is designed for working nurses who want to further their education and achieve their career goals. It is a bridge program that allows ADN- and diploma-prepared RNs to complete a bachelor's in two years or less, depending on their previous course credits.
RN to BSN programs build on the foundational knowledge that experienced nurses bring to patient care. Students develop their skills in research, critical thinking and analysis while gaining insight in new areas and aspects of nursing. According to AACN, RN to BSN programs also help nurses understand the cultural, political, economic and social issues that can affect heath and patient care.
Online programs tend to be an affordable option for earning a BSN, and the most flexible when it comes to scheduling. They can also save you time and money normally spent on commuting or finding childcare in order to study on campus.
St. Thomas University's online RN to BSN program offers working nurses a convenient and affordable way to earn a bachelor’s degree. Study when and wherever it suits you, without disrupting your life in the process. Core nursing courses can be completed in as little as 12 months and for $6,750 total. You can also take most of the general education classes required for the degree online.
Why Should I Earn a BSN If I Already Have an ADN?
A BSN can increase your skills and expertise in nursing and benefit your career. Expanding your knowledge of nursing practice to include advanced concepts in care delivery and management can also help ensure the best results for your patients.
Studying evidence-based practice helps RNs understand the wide range of factors that contribute to acute and chronic disease, as well as short-term illness and overall health. You’ll also learn new strategies to promote wellness, improve communication and address nursing issues that can impact patient care.
A BSN can prepare you to take on many different leadership roles as well, or to work in specialized areas of nursing such as critical care or pediatrics.
The online RN to BSN program is a great opportunity for nurses that would like to advance their nursing education so that they can be better qualified, not only to care for their patients but also for professional growth and personal advancement.
, Director of Undergraduate Nursing, St. Thomas University
Why Do Some Nursing Jobs Require a BSN?
Over the last decade, hospitals and other health care employers have started following nursing recommendations originally issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), now known as the National Academy of Medicine. The push for more BSN-prepared nurses began in 2010, in response to the IOM’s research report The Future of Nursing. The report argued that the rapid evolution of health care in the United States calls for a higher minimum standard in nursing education. It suggested that 80% of RNs should be BSN-prepared by 2020.
Although that goal has not been met, nurses are making progress. Data by the Campaign for Action shows that between 2009 and 2019, the total number of BSN graduates more than doubled from 66,727 to 143,294. Multiple research studies conducted since the initial IOM report have also demonstrated that having more BSN-prepared RNs on staff can lead to a range of positive outcomes. They include fewer hospital-acquired infections, lower mortality rates and decreased care costs due to shorter patient stays and fewer readmissions.
Do Magnet Hospitals Require a BSN?
Yes, for most nursing positions they do. BSN RNs are essential to hospitals and health care systems working toward Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. To earn Magnet status, institutions must strive to meet the IOM's goal of 80% BSN-prepared RNs. All nurse leaders must have a BSN as well. There are over 500 Magnet health care organizations across the U.S., and more than 20 in Florida. Your BSN must also be accredited if you want to work for a Magnet hospital or system.
Do I Need a BSN to Become an APRN?
If you hope to be an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) someday, you will definitely need the academic and clinical preparation a BSN provides. It’s the first step on the road to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), which is required to become a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, clinical nurse specialist or any other type of APRN.
It's wise to earn your bachelor's from an accredited nursing program if graduate school is part of your plans, since most MSN programs require an accredited BSN for admission.
What Will I Learn In an Online RN to BSN Program?
Online RN to BSN programs are designed to help nurses build on their core knowledge of patient care, develop their research skills and explore new ideas in the field. For example, when studying evidence-based practice you’ll rely on your clinical experience as you learn to gather information, make informed decisions and evaluate the results. Students also complete projects that address current issues in nursing, often in an actual health care setting.
Students in STU’s online RN to BSN program learn how to improve patient care using a variety of holistic assessment and support measures. Coursework highlights critical reasoning, collaboration and leadership, with a focus on strategic planning and innovation in nursing.
You can get your BSN at any age, but having that all-around education just makes you a well-rounded nurse, much more marketable, much more worldly, much more able to cope and to understand how to take care of a patient. Not only that, but you're prepared to be a leader. At STU that's our motto, ‘leaders for life,’ so that leadership component is very important that you learn at a BSN level.
, St. Thomas University Online RN to BSN Program
What Kind of Courses Will I Take In an Online RN to BSN Program?
You will complete both nursing and general education courses to earn a bachelor’s degree. BSN core classes cover subjects such as nursing research and advanced patient evaluation, as well as analytics and administration. They also provide students with a broader perspective on cultural and community issues that can impact health. The number of gen ed courses required will vary by student, based on previous coursework and transfer credits.
St. Thomas University’s online RN to BSN program requires 30 credit hours in nursing, completed in nine courses:
- Transition to Professional Nursing
- Health Care System Issues
- Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice
- Aging and the End of Life
- Health Assessment & Promotion
- Nursing Leadership
- Community Health Nursing
- Nursing Practice in Multicultural Society
- Nursing Informatics
In addition to the 24 general education credits required for the BSN, STU nursing students must take World Religions (3 hours) and Biomedical Ethics (3 hours) if they have not done so previously. Any classes not offered online at STU may be completed on campus, or through a local community college.
As a nursing student at STU online, you will be challenged to acquire the scientific knowledge base and critical thinking skills of the nursing discipline, incorporate professional nursing behaviors, develop technical and decision-making skills, embody ethics into your practice, and gain awareness of self and others’ value systems.
, Dean of Academic Programs, St. Thomas University