Nurses currently hold about 2.6 million jobs in the US, making it the largest healthcare profession in the nation. Nearly 70% of those nurses work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and at nursing care facilities or as home healthcare providers. And that number is steadily increasing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nursing jobs are projected to grow by 22% through 2018. And with that growth comes the need for more RNs with a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) who can fill the growing need for nursing administrators and supervisors. Although an associate’s degree in nursing is a great way to start a nursing career, working toward a BSN will provide more opportunities for growth and advancement within the nursing field. Whether you’re already an RN, or are currently in school, obtaining your BSN will give you the background and skills you need for continued professional advancement, increased pay, and alternative nursing careers not open to other RNs. Increased Pay for BSN RNs For entry-level nursing jobs, there isn’t much difference in pay between RNs with diplomas, ADNs, or BSNs (average pay is in the $45-65,000/year range), but nurses with a BSN can quickly differentiate themselves from the pack and earn higher salaries than average RNs. Primarily, because of their extra training and skills, BSN graduates have better chances for professional advancement. And with increased responsibility as a manager, supervisor, or other administrative positions, comes higher pay. Getting a higher salary later on in your career is great, but what about better earnings right after graduation? Although BSN graduates and other RNs tend to earn the same salary, some hospitals and clinics may decrease the required hours of work for those with a BSN. This means that a BSN graduate may receive the same weekly or monthly paycheck as other RNs, but with a slightly lighter workload. This lighter workload and fewer required hours translates into more flexibility for the personal life and professional career of nurses with a BSN. A BSN Opens other Doors An ADN is a great way to start a career in nursing, and obtaining a BSN will ensure that you are able to continue developing and advancing in your career. For example, most RNs with a diploma or ADN work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, as home-healthcare providers, or at nursing care facilities. But obtaining a BSN will open up your career options in other ways: Research—RNs with a BSN can apply for research positions that seek to further the understanding of the human body, increasing the effectiveness of healthcare technologies and practices. Also BSNs can get involved in drug testing programs and help develop new medications to prevent disease and cure illness. Teaching—Obtaining your BSN is the foundation for further educational enrichment with a master’s or doctoral degree, and it is the first step in becoming a nursing educator, where you can teach nursing candidates best practices and theoretical frameworks for their careers after graduation. Administration—A BSN is also a foundation for nurses who want to advance to supervisory or administrative positions. As a hospital administrator, you’ll have the opportunity to shape nursing practices and advocate for the nurses under your supervision to other hospital administrators. If you are looking for ways to apply your knowledge of the human body and your interest in patient care outside a hospital environment or as an administrator, obtaining a BSN is essential in opening those doors to you. Increased Schooling and RN-to-BSN Programs Of course, graduating from a BSN program requires more work, classroom time, and tuition than obtaining a diploma or an ADN. For example, here are some average degree completion times for various RN programs: • Diploma—as little as 18 months • ADN—2 years • BSN—4 years However the good news is that, if you are already an RN with an ADN, your associate’s degree credits will most likely transfer to a 4-year program, so obtaining a BSN might be easier than you think. Plus, many hospitals and medical institutions offer tuition assistance or reimbursement for RNs who are working toward their BSN. So what’s stopping you from going back to school? The Overall Benefits of Obtaining a BSN Getting a BSN will require more work than other RN degrees, but that hard work will pay off in the form of better pay and increased opportunities for advancement as well as a wider selection of careers. If you are currently in an ADN or diploma program, or you are already an RN, take a look at your options for getting a BSN so you can benefit from the increased opportunities it may afford. Not only will it benefit you, you’ll be a better RN and your patients will thank you.