RN to BSN Programs
By 2020, there will be up to 20% more nursing jobs available. Although a diploma or an Associate’s Degree will jumpstart your career and train you in the fundamentals of healthcare, it might not be enough to secure a resilient, high-paying job in the long run. More and more employers expect their potential candidates to have at least a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree, but not everyone can spend the next four to five years studying with the responsibilities of family life hanging over their heads or without a reliable, month-to-month paycheck. Luckily, nowadays there are several options to earn your BSN – and many of them are much easier, cheaper and more time-effective than you might think! One such option is the comprehensive RN to BSN track.
Who is this program for?
This certification was designed for busy or overcommitted professionals who want to earn their BSN fast, advance up the ladder to better-paid nursing positions and continue growing in a dynamic work and academic environment. As of 2016, there are currently over 700 officially authorized RN to BSN tracks throughout the country, out of which more than 400 offer online or distance learning alternatives. Consistently growing in popularity in recent years, this program is perfect if you are currently working as a registered nurse (RN) and looking to earn a formal degree, or if you already own an ADN or a Bachelor’s Degree in a non-nursing or unrelated field of study.
This type of certification is ideal if you have to juggle family life with job time or you want to quickly advance both in your career and your education, all the while practicing as an RN or LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). An RN to BSN track offers not only flexibility and fast and practical training that prepares you to become a successful and highly-skilled nursing professional. This program is an excellent choice if you currently own a hospital diploma and want to boost your qualifications, but don’t quite have the time to drag out your studies for four years or more. Whatever your academic and career goals, this track is affordable, resourceful and a worthy investment when it comes to job prospects as well as income.
What can a RN to BSN track do for you?
This degree program will improve your annual earnings, save you a great deal of trouble long-term when it comes to future employers and teach you everything you need to know about community health, evidence-based practice and innovative patient care. After completing your studies, you will be able to offer safe and holistic medical care to individuals and groups of all ages and cultural backgrounds, as well as conduct useful health assessments and information management.
The RN to BSN track is a unique program due to its lenient clinical practice. Unlike almost all other traditional curricula, the coursework does not require clinical hours, so it can be carried out 100% online. The universities that offer it even encourage you to work during your studies, which in turn helps compensate for your practice requirements. You will still work with classmates on various projects and receive mentorship from dedicated, knowledgeable professionals, but you won’t need to focus nearly as much on hands-on hospital work.
The primary objective of this type of program is professional development. It will teach you the basics of critical thinking, decision-making, leadership and solutions-oriented communication. It will also increase your cultural awareness and provide you with a deep-rooted understanding of socio-economics and how they impact care delivery. Furthermore, it will broaden your practice and significantly increase your marketability. Taking into consideration the fact that the administration is pushing nurses towards earning their BSNs more and more every year, this in-depth, quick study track will ensure that you have nothing to worry about in upcoming years and are a few steps ahead of future legislation.
What are the prerequisites for the program?
An RN to BSN track requires a nursing license to be accepted. This means that, regardless of your credentials or previous certifications, you must have passed your National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and either be practicing as an RN or an LPN to be considered for admission. You also have to fulfill general applicant criteria, including a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above and attendance of a multitude of nursing courses (or proof that you have earned a hospital diploma). You will need official transcripts, up to three letters of reference, a personal statement attached to your completed application, a criminal background check, as well as a drug screening and a physical examination. Special examinations like the HESI Admission Assessment (A2) test are necessary. If for some reason you have no documentation of your full-time RN employment, you will need to show scores of equivalency exams.
As for prerequisites, there are several courses you must have completed to be eligible for admission. These include biochemistry, college math, sociology, general psychology, English, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, statistics, and nutrition. Some universities might ask for additional coursework like philosophy and ethics, lifespan development or logic, and you can generally expect a requirement of up to 60 credit hours’ worth of general education classes.
What will you learn?
The RN to BSN track has an all-inclusive, pragmatic curriculum that will help you master excellent patient care, stay competitive in the nursing field and open up new healthcare opportunities focused on evidence-based research. Your learning guides will teach you about professional nursing roles and values, how to implement a proper health assessment process, how to evaluate the impact of health promotion and policies, how to apply research findings and use organizational and information-management systems in order to deliver quality, patient-centered medical care.
You will also learn about maximizing the potential of different learning tools, making health care decisions under pressure and within an ethical and legal framework, promoting self-care and disease prevention for vulnerable populations and discerning between credible and invalid scientific literature. Additionally, the program will focus on statistical analysis, ethical concerns in conducting research, data collection tools, nursing theory, critical interpretation of assessment findings and professional issues in nursing. Here are some of the main courses you will attend during an RN to BSN track:
- Health Care Delivery Systems
- Social Impact of Technology
- Health Promotion
- Population-Based Nursing
- Leadership and Management
- Research and Evidence-Based Practice
- Health Assessment for the RN
- Healthcare Informatics
- Nursing Ethics
- Collaborative Healthcare
- Cultural Issues in Nursing
How long will the program last?
A standard Bachelor’s degree program takes between three and four years to complete. On the other hand, an RN to BSN track typically lasts for up to two years from start to finish. The total number of credit hours required is usually around 120. The first half of these comes from lower-division undergraduate courses, whereas the remaining 60 are derived either from nursing-related courses (30 credit hours), equivalency exams or clinical work (additional 30 credit hours). If this timing is too sluggish for you, you can always choose to enroll in an accelerated program to earn your BSN. The latter will take as little as 12 months to complete. However, keep in mind that these studies have much higher admission criteria, a far more complex and intensive core curriculum, as well as a significantly more expensive tuition.
Does the program require any clinical hours?
No – any RN to BSN track will not ask you to complete clinical hours. This is one of the primary advantages of this type of certification and a major plus if you are joining the program while also working. The traditional Associate’s Degree coursework requires approximately 300 clinical hours (mainly depending on the school or university of your choice). An RN to BSN track, on the other hand, allows you to skip these hours since you are already practicing. So if you are employed as a full-time RN, you have nothing to worry about. However, please note that you do require a minimum of clinical hours to take your National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Still, most programs need no more than 30 hours of clinical practice, which you can quickly earn or substitute for using an equivalency exam.
Can you study in an RN to BSN track online?
Absolutely. In fact, most of these degree programs are offered online – 100% online. Since there are no clinical rotations, all of your studies take place through distance learning. You will either be scheduled for classes or be able to cover your courses on your own, whenever you want and have time. This is a massive benefit to this type of certification and a genuine opportunity if you prioritize family life or you want to keep on top of your current job while preparing for your exams.
Another reason why an online option is a great idea is that you can transfer credentials from your Associate’s Degree program and be left with as little as five to seven weeks’ worth of e-learning to complete the 30 upper-division credit hours. This means that you can continue to work full-time as a registered nurse and still ace your exams! Here are some well-known universities where you can find high-quality, affordable RN to BSN programs:
- University of Massachusetts
- Liberty University
- University of Wyoming
- Kent State University
- Capella University
- Walden University
- Delta State University
- University of Tennessee
- University of Memphis
- University of Miami
- California State University
- University of Iowa
- University of Utah
- University of West Florida
- Pennsylvania State University
- Western Illinois University
- Jacksonville State University
- University of Missouri
- Mercy College of Health Sciences
- West Virginia University
If you’re looking for very low-cost options, take a look at the short list below:
- Fort Hays State University
- West Texas A & M University
- Sam Houston State University
- Penn State University
- Ohio State University
- Arizona State University
- New England Institute of Technology
How much does the program cost?
The estimated costs for an RN to BSN track is approximately $9,000 for three semesters. The tuition includes fees like lab equipment, health, and athletic fees. If you are a non-resident student the price triples, reaching up to $21,500. To receive an exact figure for the tuition, we recommend checking directly with your chosen school’s financial aid office.
You can also look there for ways to help you afford the program such as private loans (an excellent idea especially if you’re considering a private university where costs are usually higher than average), cash payment programs (can offer approximately $400 per week), grants and scholarships (that provide full repayment or cover one class every semester). An additional alternative would be to ask your employment place for reimbursement. This is quite common and might get rid of most of the financial hassle involved in a Bachelor’s Degree program.
Is the RN to BSN track accredited?
Yes, this and other similar certifications should all be officially authorized. Before submitting your application or deciding on a nursing school, make sure to check if the program you have selected has received any form of accreditation from one of these two organizations: The Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing (ACEN) or The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
An RN to BSN program will thoroughly train you in providing excellent patient care in a variety of medical settings. However, remember that you need to pass your NCLEX or “readiness test” to receive licensure and be able to practice (either as a registered nurse or a licensed nurse practitioner).
Where can you work with a Bachelor’s Degree from an RN to BSN track?
The career possibilities are endless with a BSN in today’s healthcare market. You will be able to work in care units, hospitals, patient homes, physicians’ offices, psychiatric wards or prisons, research labs, pharmaceutical companies, hospices, emergency rooms and other healthcare facilities. Here are some of the job prospects for this academic path:
- Registered Nurse
- Research Nurse
- Clinical Staff Nurse
- Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse
- Pediatric Nurse
- Neonatal Nurse
- Pharmaceutical Nurse
- Public Health Nurse
- Home Health Nurse
- Emergency Room Nurse
- Outpatient Care Nurse
- Community Nurse
- Hospice Nurse
- School Nurse
- Unit Manager
- Nurse Manager
How much will you earn with a Bachelor’s Degree from an RN to BSN track?
Your salary will vary depending on your specialization, workplace, and expertise. Generally speaking, as a BSN holder you will earn an average salary of $75,484 (compared to a little over $66,000 as an RN without a Bachelor’s Degree). Even with as little as one year of experience, you can have an income of $6,000 above the median salary.