If you are looking for new challenges and new achievements, you may want to consider the RN to BSN programs offered by a myriad of scholastic institutions. These programs are designed to help you obtain more medical knowledge as well as train you in areas you may not have thought were right for you.
Before you get all excited, take some time to read all about the purpose, goals, and other important details these programs have to offer. Those offerings include helping you earn more money than you would if you remained as an RN.
What is the RN to BSN program
It is possible to say that the RN (Registered Nurse) to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) is a bridge program to help you move from a two-year nursing associate degree to a full Bachelors's degree in less time.
Some of these programs can be completed in 19 months or less if you take the accelerated options. There is also a part-time option that takes a little longer, but you do not have to leave your job to advance your nursing knowledge.
The other good aspect of these programs is that your previous school work is taken into consideration and helps cut your workload down, making it easier and faster to obtain the BSN degree. Each school and there are a lot of them that offer this program will have their own special twist to qualifications, credit acceptance for past work, and other minor details.
Your biggest concern is narrowing the long list of academic institutions down to the one you would like to attend. It will take some work as you will have you see if your past school work matches with the schools' qualifications.
One school, the U of Lafayette, requires 28 credits in an associate nursing degree program and a current RN license. The good news is that they accept all your credits no matter how old they are.
Qualification requirements for the RN to BSN program
As you can see, different schools have different criteria for you to meet. The U of Lafayette seems to be lax in its criteria, but do not let a surface examination fool you. There are other steps to meet if you want to enter the RN to BSN program at their school.
That school does offer co-requisite classes if your earlier program does not meet U of L requirements. It will take some more research to see if you qualify for the program at that school.
Other colleges are more strict as Bellevue College has an application process you must follow. That process begins at filling out the application for enrollment, and if you are a current Bellevue Student, you can skip this step.
After filling out the application, you will need to submit your previous transcripts in hopes of making it into the Spring or Fall sessions. The college states that they are simply meeting the minimum requirements is not going to be enough to gain acceptance.
Marshall College is a bit different as it requires a minimum 2.50 grade point average, passing a background and drug test, have an unencumbered RN license** and have graduated from a nationally accredited nursing school or program.
**An unencumbered RN license is one that has not been subject to any formal discipline by any board of nursing. The forms of discipline include but are not limited to-- reprimand, revocation, probation, suspension, restriction, limitation, disciplinary action, discretionary review/hearing, and so on.
Also, an unencumbered license is one that has no conditions or provisions limiting your practice of nursing.
General admission requirements
To prepare you for what you will have to face, this section deals with those requirements most BSN programs have in common.
- Grade point average- very important that you keep or kept your grades up as most schools like to see a 3.0 or higher. Some schools will go as low as 2.75, and as you already read, some will go as low as 2.5. Check your transcripts before thinking about which school you would like to attend. If your grade point is low, you may not get your first choice.
- Prior education- forget entering these programs if you never finished high school. Then make sure your Associate RN degree meets the prerequisites required for the program and school you would like to attend. The competitive schools can be a lot stricter in this and all areas of admission.
- Prerequisites- a very important topic as if you do not have or passed these classes- anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biochemistry, statistics, nutrition, and developmental psychology then you may want to enroll in a community college near you and get them done before applying.
- Entrance Exams- you may want to avoid those schools that require you to take their Test of Academic Skills exam. The competitive schools may still have these as it is one tool they have to weed out unqualified or underperforming students. Many colleges may not have this test, so your application can be processed faster.
- The Essay- some nursing schools or BSN degree programs want to know why you are applying to their school and why you want to be a nurse. The Essay is minor if you already have the answers and know that nursing is what you want to do. The key is not to be vague or bland but write something that will stand out in the minds of the application reviewers.
- Letters of Recommendation- This is a standard procedure for more programs. They want to get an idea about you and from the perspective of those who know you well. Personal references are the last gasp effort and should be avoided unless you do not know reputable people.
- Misc. Requirements- these can be background checks, drug tests, and other items the program or university deems necessary and important. You would have to check with the individual schools to see what this category entails.
The cost of tuition for the RN to BSN degree programs
The individual colleges have their own schedule of fees and tuition for their BSN, RN to BSN degree programs, and those costs will also depend if you are an in-state student or an out of state student. To give you a perspective of the full four years BSN cost, it is included in this section.
Keep in mind that all these tuition fees will vary greatly because there are numerous factors involved in setting the tuition cost at individual colleges. In other words, each college uses its own criteria to set their tuition rates.
1. Tuition Costs (All figures are averages)
BSN degree- ranges between $40,000 to $200,000
In state tuition fees per credit hour and semester- $72-82; $816 to $1019
Out of state tuition fees per credit hour and semester- $154-216; #2,627 to $3168
Accelerated programs- these range between $18,000 to $40,000 and can take anywhere from a year to a year and a half to complete
RN to BSN tuition cost- $8,000 to $55,000
2. Additional fees
- physical exam and TB test costs
- cost of drug and criminal background checks
- possible vaccinations you may need
- admission test fee
- registration fee
- graduation fee
- uniform fee
- misc fees (per school)
3. Financial aid availability
The good news is that you can get a student and other loans to cover these costs. Since most schools offer these degrees, you should be able to qualify for the federal student loan program. Then you can pay back what you borrowed when you have landed that perfect job.
What to expect from an RN to BSN program
This program helps you build on your experience as a nurse and the previous education you have already had. This program helps you expand your knowledge of nursing and medicine, making you more valuable to the hospital, clinic, or other health care provider you are employed by.
If you went the normal BSN route straight from high school, then you could expect to spend the next four years in school learning your chosen career path. That is the traditional way, but it is not the only option available to you.
If you already have an RN associate degree, then you can expect to finish the program in about two more years. If you had previously decided to enroll in any number of other four-year degree programs, then you may qualify for the accelerated BSN program and complete the degree in as little as one year and as long as 1 1/2 years.
It is possible to enroll in an online BSN degree program where you can work at your own pace. These programs may also come with a set schedule, so your completion time is already mandated by the university you enrolled at.
The key with online degrees is that you have to research them well and fully understand what you need to do to graduate and what is expected of you. Each state has different licensing requirements, and before you decide, you need to check those requirements out to see if the degree program, any version, meets those requirements.
Tough questions to ask before you join the RN to BSN path
Before you enroll and as you do your research into the different RN to BSN degree programs, you should be asking yourself some tough questions to make sure this is the right direction for your life. Here is a list of those questions:
- Does this degree path make sense for you?
- Do you have enough time to complete the program?
- Can you fit your new studies into your current work and home schedule?
- Does your personal schedule mean you have to go to an online degree program?
- How much is the tuition?
- Can you afford that much money?
- Do you have all the prerequisite courses, or do you need to attend a local college to get them?
- Will this degree open up the doors you want to open?
- Should you stay in-state or go out of state for the degree?
- What about licensing requirements? Does the program meet the licensing criteria of the state I want to work in?
If you find that the answers clear up any misconceptions, confusion, and other issues, then taking this degree path is probably what you should do. If you are still at a loss and am unsure about taking this step, maybe the benefits of getting more education will help provide you with the answers you need.
Remember, the more valuable you become to your employer, the more responsibility you will receive. Those extra duties may cut into your family and personal time and are you willing to make that sacrifice? Having an answer to that important question will help you decide if you want to continue down this path.
The benefits of taking the RN to BSN degree path
No matter what you do in this world, there are always good aspects that are very rewarding, no matter the career path you choose. The RN to BSN degree path is no exception to this rule, and you should look at the benefits to make sure they fit in with your goals, beliefs, and desires. Here are a few benefits that come with upgrading your education and experience:
- you get more education helping you to become a better nurse
- you get more mobility and flexibility in your career path
- you can specialize in a field that suits your medical preferences
- you can hone your leadership skills
- you can develop your analytical skills
- you can find better jobs at better health care facilities
- you can get a boost in your salary
- you make yourself more valuable to many different health care providers
- you remain competitive in a highly competitive industry
- you learn more about modern medical technology
The negatives of taking this program
Like every other career path or industry, there are some negatives that will impact your decision. These cons also help you keep a better perspective on the degree and what will happen after you complete it. Here are some of the negatives you need to consider:
- It may put you in debt and cost you a lot over time
- Less time for your family
- Need to find the motivation to finish the course
- Lots of new challenges to overcome that may discourage you
- Less personal time with friends
- A huge time investment
- Not all RN to BSN programs are accredited
- Acceptance is not guaranteed
Career outlook for RN to BSN graduates
As you look to upgrade your nursing medical knowledge, you need to consider the fact that the industry is changing. At one time, all a person needed to be a nurse was an RN license and an associate degree. But as the medical field changes and upgrades its technology while becoming more specialized, the RN is not enough.
Advancing your knowledge and skills is becoming essential if you want to remain competitive and employed. Here are some facts to help you see how important going through the RN to BSN program to your career in nursing:
- The nursing field is supposed to grow by 15% in the next six years
- The Institute of Medicine is recommending that more nurses obtain their BSN degree
- Over 1/3 of hospitals require their new hires to have a BSN over an RN
- Older nurses are retiring, and skilled replacements are needed to fill those vacancies
- BSN holders make on average about $30,000 annually over an RN
- You can make a bigger impact on your patients if you upgrade your knowledge and skills
- you can influence younger nurses and help them develop as people and as medical professionals
Your career outlook is looking very good. It may be prudent that you do not delay this decision and make a move now before it is too late.
The best RN to BSN programs to consider
It is impossible to list all the top schools in this space. There are a lot of them that are well worth the time and the expense to attend. We will get you started by placing two links to lists that are already compiled and waiting for you to look through.
The first one is a list of the best ones in the country right now. You can get to it by clicking on this button. The second one is a list of affordable programs and can be found at this location. There are more good schools than appear on those lists. They are just a starting point.
The second list also gives you good criteria to help guide your search for the right program. They are good points to consider as you make your decision.
Some final words
Upgrading yourself and your knowledge, as well as your skills through an Rn to BSN program, is probably a smart move for most RNs out there. Making yourself more valuable is the way to remain employed and a candidate for higher medical positions.
This training can also help place you in the spot of being a mentor to younger nurses who have not had the experience and need a little more guidance to do their job better. This is an investment in your future, and your decision should not be made lightly.
Do your research to make sure you get the right program for you and your situation.