Nursing and healthcare organizations, as well as hospitals and other employers, are calling for a more highly educated nursing workforce to meet the demands of the increasingly complex U.S. healthcare system.
As a result, nursing programs like Azusa Pacific University’s RN to BSN program are prepared to help meet this demand and to help those called to this important field gain the professional skills and knowledge they need.
Today, significantly more RNs are seeking bachelor’s degrees in nursing than in the past. In 1980, only 22% of working RNs had a BSN. By 2008, that figure grew to 36.8%, according to American Association of Colleges of Nursing statistics. And in the last 10 years, the percentage of the RN workforce holding a bachelor’s or higher degree increased from 50% to 55%, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ report, “The U.S. Nursing Workforce: Trends in Supply and Education,” released in April 2013.
This, however, is not enough to meet the rising demands placed on nurses in today’s healthcare environment. In fact, the Institute of Medicine recommends that goal increase to 80% of nurses with a bachelor’s degree by 2020 in order to best prepare nurses to care for sicker patients and to use sophisticated new technologies.
Why? Nurses have assumed a pivotal role in all aspects of today’s healthcare system. They need a well-rounded, comprehensive education to meet the demands. A bachelor’s in nursing focuses not only on building nurses’ clinical skills, but also critical thinking, leadership, case management, health promotion and more. Studies have found that hospitals with a higher percentage of RNs with baccalaureate or higher degrees have better patient outcomes, according to AACN. In essence, the BSN prepares nurses for a broader scope of practice and helps them to develop the skills needed to help save more lives.
In addition to being better prepared to serve patients, nurses with a BSN or higher degree benefit from the potential for better jobs with better pay. Many employers will favor a nurse with a BSN over those with only an associate’s degree or RN license, and will often pay a higher salary to those with advanced degrees. Just how much more varies according to the employer, demographics, experience and more. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that registered nurses with an associate’s degree in nursing earn an average annual salary of $61,300, while more experienced registered nurses holding BSN degrees are earning an average annual salary of $90,200.
The nursing profession as it exists today provides opportunity for tremendous job growth as hospitals and healthcare employers continue to seek highly qualified professionals to meet needs. A BSN opens the door to advanced career opportunities in patient care and nursing leadership, and equips nurses to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees in nursing focused on specific areas of care, research, nursing education and more.
The good news for today’s nurses is earning a BSN is more in reach than ever before. Nursing education has evolved to accommodate nurses in all walks of life. Azusa Pacific University’s RN to BSN program, offered at four Southern California locations and online, prepares graduates as highly skilled, compassionate nurses who benefit from learning in an environment that integrates a Christian world view and applies a holistic view of patient care, focusing on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of patients.
The time may soon come when a BSN is the entry-level requirement in the profession. For nurses passionate about their work and interested in advancing their career, now is the time to gain a competitive edge and develop the skills needed to make a difference in healthcare, and in the lives of patients.
Editor’s note: OnCourse learning does not endorse any views expressed or products or services recommended or offered in the content of this blog. OnCourse Learning assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequence resulting, directly or indirectly, from any action or inaction taken based on or made in reliance on the information within this article.
Meet two of APU’s nursing faculty: