Three Questions to Ask About Nursing Degrees

Lori Johnston | October 27, 2009

Bachelor's of NursingWhile health care reform is grabbing headlines, health care is one of the more secure job sectors.
Some professionals in hospitals and physicians offices are seizing the moment to earn degrees. If you’re a registered nurse, you may be considering a bachelor’s in nursing, which could lead to promotions or higher-paying jobs. You also could teach future nurses.

And there are plenty of choices for nurses, with more than 700 nursing programs offering degrees at the bachelor’s level, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some are available online.
You’ll join a growing number of students – 145,845 as of 2008 – enrolling in baccalaureate nursing programs, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Here are three questions to ask when considering a nursing degree.

1. What additional skills will I acquire with my BSN?
Students can learn the skills to work in a range of clinical settings and provide comprehensive nursing care to patients and their families. Expect to gain knowledge to make decisions quickly in health care settings, collaborate with other professionals on issues of health and wellness, and develop management skills. Officials at Jacksonville University (FL) also report that a BSN degree can be beneficial for those seeking to enter into high-demand fields such as critical care, cardiology, dermatology, ob/gyn, and oncology.

2. How will earning a BSN impact my career?
It can. Jacksonville University, which offers one of the online bachelor’s of nursing programs, reports that the degree enables nurses to move from the technical level to a professional practice. It cites a 2007 earning survey in RN magazine that found salaries are increased from 50 cents an hour to $3.20 an hour. A nurse with a BSN also could receive a specialty pay differential, the university says.

3. Is a career in teaching possible?
There is a great need for nursing teachers. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing found 32,617 qualified applicants in 2008 were not accepted due to factors including the shortage of teachers. The association’s CEO and Executive Director, Geraldine “Polly” Bednash, says: “Increasing enrollment in baccalaureate nursing programs is a critical first step to correcting an imbalance in the nursing student population and reversing our nation’s diminishing supply of nurse educators.”

In short, there are many career roads for those with a BSN. Which one will you take?

-Lori Johnston

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