A Bachelor of Science in Nursing opens up a variety of career options in caring for others. Students who graduate with this degree can become registered nurses, where they can work in clinics, schools, hospitals, senior care facilities, and private practices.
BSN programs are increasingly popular because healthcare workers are in high demand. If you’re considering a Bachelor of Science, it’s important to know what this degree entails. Here’s a look at what a BSN program is and whether or not it’s right for you.
What Are BSN Programs?
BSN programs prepare students for careers in nursing. This bachelor’s degree program takes four years to complete and includes everything a new nurse needs to enter the workforce.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing outlines a number of requirements that BSN programs must provide to qualify students as professional candidates for licensure after they graduate. For example, a traditional BSN says that students must take classes in mental health, community health, patient care, and health sciences.
Testing Requirements for Nursing Students
Students also have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Provided by the National Council for State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), this test has an average pass rate of 90% among those with a bachelor’s degree.
These statistics suggest that the BSN general education requirements prepare students to pass this test. If you want to be a registered nurse (RN), meaning you can care for patients while administering medication, advice, and education, you’ll take the NCLEX-RN test version. You’ll also need a college degree, whether it’s an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, or an approved hospital degree program.
Practical nurses, who take the NCLEX-PN examination, don’t need a bachelor’s degree. They are more focused on providing direct care, also known as bedside care, in a traditional nursing sense. Their main goal is providing comfort to a patient who is already receiving medical advice and treatment from an RN, a physician’s assistant, or another healthcare professional.
BSN vs. ADN Programs
BSN programs are considered more advanced among other nursing programs. Unlike an associate degree in nursing, for example, a BSN degree includes foundational biology, care courses, and clinical rotations.
Associate degrees in nursing (ADN) usually take two years, but sometimes three, and are offered at community colleges. BSN degrees entail more credit hours, more rigorous coursework, and direct experience working with patients. This equips BSN graduates with more real-world nursing practice in the field, making them more competitive than associate degree-seeking students when they apply for nursing jobs.
Nursing Career Options
With so many career options available to students holding a baccalaureate degree in nursing, it’s important to decide what care areas you’re most interested in. And fortunately, a bachelor’s nursing degree provides you with four years to explore which fields you’re most interested in.
Nursing Care Areas
Students who earn their bachelor’s at nursing school can pursue work in a range of fields.
These include public health roles, which entail working with underserved populations. Public health nurses also work to identify disease patterns, provide immunization, and track outbreaks.
Students with a nursing degree can also pursue career opportunities in a specific care area. For example, a psychiatric care nurse works directly with patients who have mental health disorders. You can also become a plastic surgery nurse, oncology nurse, dermatology nurse, transplant nurse, or nurse who works in outpatient care — and that’s barely scratching the surface.
Nursing leadership is another fruitful and often overlooked career path for BSN students. For example, someone could become a director of nursing or a nurse manager at a hospital. This career provides a range of opportunities for overseeing care programs, designing hospitals, and directing funding towards key healthcare initiatives.
A nursing career can also take you to different locations, including hospitals, cruise ships, schools, parishes, camps, and correctional centers. A career as a traveling nurse can take you to multiple different locations in a year, allowing you to explore different care facilities and treatment styles while living in different places.
Things to Know Before Entering a BSN Program
As discussed, students who graduate from a BSN program have a wide range of opportunities at their fingertips. However, such programs aren’t for everyone. Here’s what you should know about becoming a full-time nurse with a BSN degree.
It Requires Quick Thinking Under Pressure
Professional nurses need to think on their feet and adopt problem-solving skills. Directions aren’t always given from doctors, and in emergency situations, quick thinking is essential. This can be stressful for people who don’t work well under pressure, so it’s key to think about how you react in these contexts. BSN students may be more well-equipped to handle these challenges with grace, since they’ve already worked in the field.
There Are Job Shortages
Healthcare workers are in demand, and nursing shortages remain across the nation. However, this doesn’t mean it’s easy to find a job — especially at a hospital. While healthcare professionals are urgently needed, budgets are also highly limited.
Entry-level career seekers will have the hardest time finding a job, because those with experience will always be more sought-after. This means there’s often many people applying for the same job, and there aren’t always funds to hire them, no matter how qualified they are (or what degrees they have).
Tuition Is Expensive But Financial Aid Is Available
Nursing school is expensive, especially if you’re attending a private university. However, scholarships and other forms of financial aid are available for students pursuing nursing, especially those interested in working for the public sector. Student loan forgiveness options are also available.
The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program repays up to 60% of loans incurred during nursing schools. Understanding these options before you pursue a BSN program can put you in a smarter place financially, reducing the amount of debt you have post-graduation.
BSN programs require certain high school prerequisites, mostly in the social sciences.
Keep in mind that certain AP classes and community college classes, like biology and chemistry, can count as transfer credits at your new higher education institution.
This means they won’t have to be taken again during your BSN program, and you can instead focus on taking higher-level science classes. It also means you’ll have time to retake any classes to obtain a higher grade if you want to make your application more competitive.
The most common prerequisite courses to attend a BSN program at a college of nursing include:
- Organic chemistry
- Advanced math
It typically takes two years to obtain all the prerequisites needed to attend a nursing program. Specific nursing courses may also make your application more competitive. However, these don’t always have to be in a student setting.
For example, high school students may pursue a summer internship at a local hospital or care facility. This experience would count as credits, but it would also demonstrate real-world experience. Nursing camps also provide a chance for students to learn basic nursing skills, such as vital signs monitoring, first-aid care, and cardiovascular resuscitation.
These classes can usually be taken as early as tenth grade. Overall, the sooner students have an idea about becoming a nurse, the more likely they are to be prepared for a BSN program.
Deciding if a BSN Program Is Right for You
A Bachelor of Science in nursing exposes students to a wide range of career opportunities. These include roles working in the public and private sectors, for all areas of care from mental health to plastic surgery. However, the demand of a nursing career isn’t right for everyone, and both schools and post-graduate job openings can be highly competitive. Yet for most nurses, the challenges of becoming a nurse are far outweighed by the benefits of a lifelong career serving others.
For more information on nursing programs and other careers in healthcare, visit CollegeRank.