While most people are well aware of the dire need for nurses and the essential services they provide, few fully understand the qualities that differentiate levels of nursing expertise. One of these differences is that both Registered Nurse (RN) and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) qualifications are available.
If you are considering entering a career in nursing, understanding the difference between the two designations is quite important. While nursing is the backbone of the modern healthcare system and all nurses of all kinds are absolutely vital to patient wellbeing, not all nursing credentials are interchangeable.
Registered Nurse (RN)
A Registered Nurse, or RN, designation indicates a medical professional who has been licensed by a state board of nursing to provide and/or coordinate patient care. These individuals are able to provide both critical information and emotional support to each patient they serve.
An aspiring nurse seeking to become an RN can secure an associate degree in nursing or a diploma from an approved nursing program.
No matter how they prepare academically for their professional future, all nurses must secure licensure for the specific state in which they plan to practice. All states administer the same licensing exam, the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Furthermore, all nurses must meet the same standards in order to pass this exam.
Although most BSN graduates either already have or readily secure state licensure at the end of their undergraduate studies, a BSN does not automatically qualify a nurse for an RN. They must pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam like all other prospective nurses.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
Bachelor of Science in Nursing is typically a four-year degree program at the postsecondary level. This can include a broad spectrum of general education courses as well as a focused nursing curriculum. In addition to clinical nursing topics, a BSN program can also stress proficiency in areas that include communication, critical thinking and leadership.
While some BSN programs are designed to help students prepare for RN licensure, others target nurses who already hold an RN designation but seek to advance their education level. A BSN does not automatically include RN licensure, which is still required as noted above. Although a BSN can help expand new employment opportunities and earning potential, it is not required to practice nursing in most states. The one exception to this rule is for nurses in the state of New York, who must secure a BSN within a decade of obtaining their RN licensure.
A BSN also gives nurses the ability to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or another graduate nursing degree. In addition to potentially helping nursing administrators take on broader leadership positions, an MSN is essential for anyone who wants to pursue work as a nurse practitioner or other type of APRN (advanced practice registered nurse).
Comparing Professional Advantages of BSN and RN Programs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a BSN allows a nurse to command a higher salary than a nurse who merely holds an RN designation. Furthermore, nurses with a BSN lay a solid foundation for future academic designations such as an MSN and an APRN.
Current and prospective nurses may also need a BSN to find employment with certain choice employers or in the hospital setting in general depending on hiring requirements. A BSN is also a prerequisite for most charge nurse, operating room nurse, public health nurse, medical/health services manager and nursing instructor positions.
How to Earn a BSN
No two aspiring or working nurses have the exact same academic or professional backgrounds. As part of its long tradition of versatile and flexible postsecondary program development, University of Phoenix offers two options for nurses who already have an RN but are looking to expand their career prospects with a BSN.
The Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program from University of Phoenix is available entirely online. Completed in a series of five-week courses, this program generally takes about three years to complete.
The University also offers a Competency-Based RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that leverages a student’s existing skills as a working nurse. This program typically spans 1 year .
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix offers flexible course schedule options for working adults and other busy professionals who want to position themselves to work toward their own goals. The University was one of the pioneers in online learning and remains an innovator in the field. In addition to the RN to BSN degree program, University of Phoenix offers 50 different undergraduate degrees to cater to a highly diverse base of students. To learn more, visit the University of Phoenix website.