A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a four-year college degree that prepares students for careers in nursing, and those who are wondering how does an RN earn a BSN will be pleased to know that the process is relatively simple. In order for an RN, or registered nurse, to graduate from a BSN program, he or she must apply to an accredited university, complete specific prerequisites, apply to the university’s nursing school, and complete all coursework and clinical experiences as required by the school.

Preparing to Earn a BSN

The best thing that a student can do in order to prepare for his or her BSN is to start as early as possible. Chemistry, biology, and anatomy are typically offered during high school, and nurses who have already earned their registered nurse license should begin to research the different schools that offer a BSN. Also, keep in mind that many schools offer online BSN programs that allow students to complete the coursework at a distance and gain clinical experience in their own communities. When you are looking to earn your BSN, it is important to make sure the degree program is accredited by an agency such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Accelerated RN-BSN Programs

In some cases, RNs may be eligible to pursue an accelerated RN-BSN program, also known as a “BSN Express” program, that is typically much shorter than the standard BSN degree. These programs are specifically designed for RNs who already hold a nursing diploma, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree in another field. Depending on the program requirements, RNs may be able to apply certain nursing credits they’d previously earned during their RN program or prior education directly to the university’s BSN degree. The average length of accelerated RN-BSN programs is approximately 12 to 18 months.

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The BSN Curriculum for RNs

Students typically spend the first two years of their BSN degree taking prerequisite courses as required by their university. Several of the courses that are required in order to enter most nursing programs include psychology, chemistry, algebra, physiology, and anatomy. After students complete the prerequisites, they are generally required to submit an application for the nursing program. Most nursing schools offer coursework that covers topics such as health assessment, microbiology, pathophysiology, critical thinking patient relationships, research topics, and behavioral and social sciences. Students must also complete supervised clinical rotations in order to gain firsthand experience and have the opportunity to apply the skills they have learned in the classroom.

Entering the Field

Although an associate’s degree is the minimum education required for nurses, registered nurses (RNs) are strongly advised to earn their BSN degree. Not only do nurses with BSNs often receive more job opportunities, they may be able to command higher salaries than those with an associate’s degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay for RNs was $68,450 per year as of 2016, and the typical entry-level education is a bachelor’s degree. In addition, a bachelor’s degree or higher is often required for teaching, consulting, research, and administrative positions.

Many experts are predicting that, at some point in the near future, all RNs will need to have a BSN degree in order to secure positions in the field of nursing. Keep in mind that more and more facilities, clinics, and hospitals already require their nurses to have a BSN degree. Since the nursing field is an extremely competitive one, employers are always looking for nurses who stand out from the competition. If you’ve asked yourself, “How does an RN earn a BSN?” because you’re interested in further developing your nursing career, simply apply for and complete a BSN program from an accredited college or university.