Nursing is an enduring career with a variety of pathways to build a productive career as a professional nurse. While you can expect to find employment in various health care environments with only registered nurse credentials, earning an RN-BSN designation will prepare you for the core skills needed for a high-flying career in the field of nursing.
How to get Started on Earning your Nursing Credentials
It takes two to three years to earn an RN designation, and different degrees are available for students aiming for a career in nursing. You can earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) from a community college, an accredited learning institution specializing in health careers or a hospital-affiliated program. Some high schools offer a dual-enrollment option to rising juniors so that you can graduate from high school with an ADN.
With an associate degree, you can find entry-level employment that will help you gain experience as a nurse. Most nursing programs will include clinical internships to provide real world exposure and some hands-on experience with patient management. As an aspiring nurse, you may also avail of externships at teaching hospitals. An externship is an unpaid apprenticeship of sorts where the extern shadows a professional nurse to learn by observing. Internships and externships provide excellent opportunities to network and learn about the benefits of pursuing an RN-BSN degree.
Taking the NCLEX-RN
You are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) after completion of your ADN. The nursing boards in each state determine the minimum requirements for taking the test and concurrency agreements with other states. Passing the NCLEX-RN means you will have earned the right to append the RN designation after your name, and you are qualified to provide higher levels of care to patients.
Transitioning to an RN-BSN Program
The RN-to-BSN program is a fast-track career path for those committed to a nursing career. It takes about three years to complete although the program may be shortened even further for those who have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field but wish to transition to a nursing career. A bachelor’s degree in nursing takes at least four years to complete.
The RN-BSN pathway allows you to work as a nurse while completing the courses needed to earn a BSN. This may be an intense period of work and study, but it is generally considered an enriching experience because you will be learning new skills that you can put to the test immediately in your work life.
Another benefit of taking advantage of an RN-BSN career path has to do with financing your education. Employers put a premium on the BSN credential and may offer tuition reimbursement and stipends to employees seeking to enhance their ADN credential by pursuing an RN-BSN degree. Additionally, part or all of the RN-BSN program may be pursued online, which makes it possible to work full time while enrolled in these courses.
Nursing is a career that will continue to thrive for the foreseeable future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nationwide demand for nurses will pass the 3.2 million mark by 2022. Nurses with top credentials can have their pick of 88 percent of these jobs because employers prioritize candidates with a bachelor’s degree. This should be reason enough to consider enrolling in an RN-BSN program to ensure maximum career advancement.