You can take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and become an RN without having a BSN degree, though if this is the route you intend to take, there are some things that would definitely be advisable to keep in mind. Taking a moment to compare and contrast the potential certification and career paths of an RN with or without a BSN will be useful for having the most realistic idea of what your best prospects are after completing your education, passing your exam and becoming officially registered.
The differences between what an RN with a BSN and an RN without a BSN are qualified for are largely related to the nature of their education before taking the NCLEX-RN. In order to become eligible to take the exam, you’ll have to complete a certain number of years of specially-targeted educational courses and training. The extent of your training will depend on whether you’ve been enrolled in a BSN program or an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) program.
With the exception of circumstances that either extend or prolong it, a BSN program is designed to be completed in 4 years at an accredited university or college. By comparison, an ASN is earned in 2 years.
As the typical BSN program is twice as long and generally more specialized than the standard ASN program, those who earn a BSN are often considered by employers to have a more thorough and expansive education in nursing – for this reason, the opportunities afforded to nurses with a BSN tend to be broader than those without a BSN.
Similarities and Differences in Opportunities
Both an RN with a BSN and an RN without one will be, at the very least, qualified to occupy entry-level nursing positions. It is entirely possible for any RN to advance their position by merit of work experience alone, but beyond that, a BSN will enable potential access to certain advanced nursing positions that nurses without one typically won’t be seen as qualified for.
With a BSN, an RN is in the position of furthering their education with a postgraduate degree. By acquiring a doctorate or master’s, an RN becomes eligible to apply for a number of higher-practice nursing roles that call for higher level specialization and experience than general management positions.
One of the advanced practice positions that opens up with a postgraduate nursing degree is midwifery. Nurse midwives attend just about 8 percent of all births in the United states. Prior to birthing, midwives can also provide gynecological care.
An RN with a BSN might also further their education to become a clinical nurse specialist. As a clinical nurse specialist, you’ll be certified to manage other nursing staff, perform administrative work, and treat specific illnesses.
In addition to midwifery and clinical specialization, a nurse with a BSN and a doctorate/master’s can become a nurse practitioner. The role and daily responsibilities of a nurse practitioner, which can include providing patients with primary health care, are comparable to that of a similarly specialized doctor.
While a BSN isn’t necessary to have a career in nursing, it opens the door to several advanced practice positions. The question of whether or not you should earn a BSN to become a nurse will depend on whether or not you aspire to specialize in something that can only be done at the advanced practice level.