The role of nursing is to provide for patient care in a professional setting, such as a hospital, clinic, or other medical facility. An online nursing bachelor’s degree allows students to participate in research, and provides them with the opportunity to take on a supervisory role.
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree teaches theory and leadership, and prepares students to continue their education or to work in senior-level roles (such as director of nursing). Their education and experience may also allow them to transition to the business side of healthcare to run ambulatory or acute care companies.
Why a BSN?
Undergraduate nursing programs allow the student to obtain a nursing license without prior experience or training. In addition, these programs provide the opportunity for current registered nurses (RNs) to expand their careers by learning new skills, such as supervising the staff of a hospital or clinic. A BSN is often required to work in administrative positions.
The goal of most online nursing programs is to teach students how to think critically and provide effective communication to other members of the health care team. Hands-on laboratory sessions arm students with plenty of practical skills, as well as the ability to perform proper evaluations.
Getting into a BSN Program
Applicants must provide the following in order to be accepted into most online RN programs:
- A high school diploma with a background in science and mathematics
- ACT or SAT scores
- Letter of Intent
- Letters of Recommendation
In addition, the student must provide transcripts from an associate degree in general nursing if they have received one from another school. For students that have a non-nursing degree, they may be required to take additional general education requirements, including classes like human anatomy and physiology.
Inside a BSN Program
During the first two years of a BSN program, students are required to take general education classes as they would with many degrees. During the final two years, students enroll in the nursing program and begin clinical work. Students who enroll in online accelerated BSN programs may complete their education in as little as 12 months while fulfilling all of the standard requirements for licensure and entry-level employment in the nursing profession.
Nearly all of these programs require students to study fields like microbiology, chemistry, and nutrition. They must also complete clinicals in pediatrics, maternity, surgery, and other specialized areas of medicine and healthcare. Some programs provide clinical experience in non-traditional facilities such as public health departments and home health agencies.
What’s Next for BSN Holders?
Those who complete online second degree BSN programs may choose from a wide range of career opportunities that extend beyond the traditional health care setting. These include working in an insurance company or law firm as a patient case manager; instructing in a nursing school or medical care training facility; or working in psychiatric units. Others may choose to pursue a master’s degree in general nursing.
After graduation, all students must pass the National Council Licensure Examination to become licensed. They are not allowed to practice without the license. Furthermore, they may become certified in specific areas such as gerontology and pediatrics. While not required by law, some employers may limit candidates to those specific certifications.
The job outlook for registered nurses is projected to grow 26% between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Above average growth is expected in hospital settings and for home health services as people live longer and choose to stay home.
The median pay for registered nurses in general was $64,690 in 2010. Those who work in private hospitals enjoy the highest median pay at $66,650, while those who work in local hospitals earn slightly less at a median salary of $62,690. RNs who work in home health services earn a median salary of $60,690 while those employed in nursing care facilities earn $58,180 for a median salary.