If you’re in the process of earning your associate’s degree in nursing, you know it’s not an easy credential to get. Earning an ADN means two or three years of pre-requisites plus another two years for the nursing program itself. If you’re like many new nurses, you’re eager to get into the work force and start earning a living. You may already have a family to provide for and you may wonder why you should spend an extra two years to earn a BSN.

It’s worth it because having a BSN makes you a measurably better nurse. Additional education on your part means a greater chance of survival and recovery for your patients. Furthermore, many hospitals now require RNs to have at least a BSN — and it’ll be a prerequisite if you someday decide you want to advance even further in your career, to become a primary care provider, nurse educator, or other nursing specialist.

Mortality Rates Drop When More Nurses Have BSNs

Hospitals are changing their educational requirements for nurses because new research supports the theory that patients are less likely to die when they’re cared for by BSN-educated nurses. Canadian nurse researcher Ann E. Tourangeau found that for every 10 percent increase in BSN-educated nurses in a hospital, patient mortality rates post-discharge drop by nine for every 1,000 patients. Nurse researcher Linda Aiken came to a similar conclusion in her study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that a 10 percent increase in the number of BSN-educated nurses on a hospital’s staff led to a 5 percent drop in post-surgery deaths among patients.

Combined studies into the patient-care benefits of the extra two years of nursing education have investigated 300,000 patients and 23,000 nurses in 300 hospitals across North America. While the research does not yet explain exactly why patients cared for by BSN-educated nurses are less likely to die, that hasn’t stopped many hospitals from putting the data into practice.

BSN-Educated Nurses Notice the Difference

You may be skeptical that continuing in school or going back to school for a BSN online will change your nursing practice, but surveys show that RNs who return to school for a BSN notice the difference afterward. Many RNs have reported that earning a BSN totally revamped their nursing practice, helping them to get a clearer view of the big picture of nursing and patient care, giving them more perspective, and enhancing their potential as nurses. Nurses who went back for a BSN after some time in the work force say the additional education greatly enhanced their thinking and reasoning skills.

Many also say that they experienced a much higher level of professional growth than they anticipated and learned much more in the BSN program than they expected, developments which helped them to become more effective advocates for their patients and helped them bring about more necessary changes in their workplaces. Put simply, nurses who earn BSNs feel like more competent, skilled nurses, and they feel like the extra years of school directly helps their patients thrive.

BSN Options

If you’re still in nursing school, you may want to go ahead and get the BSN before you enter the workforce. There are still plenty of jobs for registered nurses with associate’s degrees, but these days the best nursing jobs are going to BSN-educated candidates. If you’ve already left nursing school, or you have an urgent need to get into the work force and start earning a salary so you can support your family, there’s another option — going to school online. Online RN-to-BSN programs allow you to finish your BSN without leaving the workforce. They’re an ideal solution for nurses who want to keep their skills relevant and guarantee job security for the future.

If you’re wondering whether or not to get a BSN, rest assured that earning the degree is a research-proven way to become a better nurse. The skills and knowledge you learn in the extra two years of nursing school will translate to better outcomes for your patients — some of whom may very enjoy a complete recovery simply because you stayed in school


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