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Nursing has long been a sure bet for anybody interested in making a difference while holding down a stable job. Given the lower barrier to entry required of LPNs and RNs, however, many aspiring nurses wonder: Why should you get your BSN?

Turns out, the BSN represents one of the greatest opportunities for advancing as a nurse. This powerful degree demonstrates your commitment to the field, as well as your extensive understanding of the health care industry.

What is a BSN Degree?

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing is a comprehensive four-year degree program in the fundamentals of the nursing career field. In addition to career-relevant healthcare classes and clinical rotations, it provides a well-rounded education that will help you develop as a person and as a professional. As such, it warrants serious consideration for any nurse looking to climb the career ladder. It’s a credential that offers access to a wide variety of next-level job opportunities, which could come accompanied by leadership roles, job security, and increased earnings.

Beyond job prospects and personal development, the BSN delivers in-depth training that could improve niche skills, and, most importantly, quality of care. Still not convinced? Below, we highlight the many benefits of a BSN in Nursing.

1. Plentiful Jobs

The nursing profession in general enjoys low levels of unemployment. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for registered nurses comes out at 12 percent between 2018 and 2028—that adds up to an additional 371,500 jobs expected to open up in the next decade. However, employment prospects differ considerably between RNs with and without their BSN in Nursing.

Many health care employers now regard a BSN as a barrier to entry, even for nurses just starting out. At minimum, these employers expect that nurses will actively seek their BSN while initially working at the RN level. Given these high expectations, the lack of a four-year degree—or the willingness to pursue further education—can prove a real liability.

2. Salary Increases

Not only is employment easier to come by with a BSN, this degree can also deliver a significant salary boost. While the BLS cites a median annual income of $73,300 for registered nurses, it’s no secret that those with their BSN earn far more than those who lack four-year degrees. This is verified by data from PayScale, which indicates that BSN nurses earn an average annual income of $84,000, with many exceeding six figures.

While the extent of degree-based income increases will vary based on a given nurse’s region and specialty, higher earnings can nearly always be expected upon graduation. Influenced by studies indicating the value of primarily hiring BSN nurses, a variety of hospitals and other facilities are willing to pay top dollar for those with advanced credentials.

3. Pursuing Areas of Passion

Many nurses excel as generalists, but others aspire to work in specialty areas, such as oncology or pediatrics. This allows them to pursue their passions while lending their natural talents to niches in which they’re most needed. A BSN in Nursing expands such opportunities for specialization, both within the degree program and after graduation.

While attending BSN classes, nurses may delve into niche areas of professional interest, which can be examined through projects, term papers, and even in clinical settings. From bereavement to community health nursing, BSN degree programs tackle a variety of areas of interest.

Nursing students can further examine health care niches while completing capstones. This opportunity allows students to obtain an impressive depth of knowledge in a specific topic. Such in-depth research can ignite inner passion and grant students the confidence needed to take on their most ambitious nursing goals—and the most exciting BSN degree jobs.

4. Leadership Opportunities

A BSN in Nursing can open up a world of opportunity in leadership and management. Nurses who envision one day stepping into leadership roles must develop a new set of skills beyond their current clinical acumen. These essentials are explicitly addressed in BSN courses targeted at aspiring leaders.

Equipped with the knowledge gained in leadership-oriented classes, properly credentialed nurses can play a key role in upper-level decision-making while also handling everything from scheduling to budgetary concerns. Upon earning a BSN, these nurses may qualify for such roles as nurse manager, nursing supervisor, clinical coordinator, or wellness director.

5. A Step Toward a Graduate Education

There’s a lot to love about the BSN in Nursing in its own right, but some students primarily view this as a crucial step on the path towards obtaining a master’s degree. Graduate-level nursing education comes with many additional benefits, but these may not be accessible without a BSN.

A BSN in Nursing can streamline the process of obtaining a master’s degree, especially if graduates go on to enroll in BSN-to-MSN programs. Furthermore, the rigorous coursework required of BSN students thoroughly prepares them for the challenges they will inevitably face while pursuing graduate education.

6. Legal Necessity

While an increasing share of health care facilities now mandate BSN degrees for registered nurses, this trend is by no means limited to private employers.

Increasingly, the preference for BSN nurses is appearing at the state level, as evidenced by legislation signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in late 2017. Known as ‘BSN in 10,’ this law requires registered practical nurses (RPNs) to obtain their bachelor’s within one decade of initial licensure. Efforts to develop similar legislation are currently underway in several other states.

7. Adapting to the Evolving Health Care Industry

The medical world is always changing. New research, technologies, and treatment modalities consistently emerge, calling for skilled and adaptable professionals who can change their approach in an instant.

The need for flexibility within nursing has proven especially urgent in the wake of the coronavirus, which forced many nurses to leave their comfort zones and take on unfamiliar areas of practice. While nurses at all levels can excel in such high-demand environments, swift transitions are easier to take on when thoroughly prepared with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

8. Quality of Care

The lure of career advancement convinces many successful LPNs and RNs to pursue further education, but the core passion fueling this undertaking often involves a desire to better serve patients. Nurses at all levels can provide exceptional care, but a growing body of research suggests that patients excel when served by BSN nurses.

According to a fact sheet from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), an increase of just 10 percent in the proportion of BSN nurses within hospital wards prompts an 11 percent reduction in patient mortality risk. A greater emphasis on BSN nurses is also associated with the reduced prevalence of such issues as postoperative deep vein thrombosis and decubitus ulcers. Care provided by BSN nurses may even lead to lower rates of readmission.

A BSN degree program provides a myriad of benefits worth considering. If you’re serious about improving both your earning potential and your ability to provide the exceptional care that your patients deserve, you could be the perfect candidate for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Don’t bypass this opportunity to achieve your full potential as a registered nurse.