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RN vs. BSN Education: Pathways for Your Nursing Career

Nursing is a profession that can open the door to many employment opportunities. From direct patient care to becoming a nurse educator or leading public health initiatives, nurses advance health and compassionate care for people in all stages of life. This article summarizes entry-level RN degree programs, compared to the BSN and RN-to-BSN options.

RN stands for Registered Nurse — a person who has completed an accredited degree program passed the licensing examination and received approval from the Board of Nursing within the state or commonwealth in which they live.

First Things First: What About the Jobs Forecast for RNs?

Nursing is a growing field in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 12% growth in RN positions through 2028.

The good news is you can find plenty of pathways to becoming an RN! This overview guides you in selecting your best choice while demystifying common nursing terms and offering a historical view of how educational options and academic settings have evolved.

Keep in mind that students must pass a licensure exam to become an RN. Individual school degree programs track and report their student’s exam pass rate as an example of their curriculum’s proficiency. This can be an important consideration when looking into degree programs.


NCLEX-RN
—the National Council Licensure Exam-RN is developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to protect the public’s health and assure nursing care safety. Students completing these programs must pass this exam to become licensed as an RN.

Overview of Entry-Level RN Degree Programs

Diploma Program—This type of degree program is associated with a hospital-based school of nursing. It’s an early form of nursing education that was dominant in the 19th and part of the 20th centuries. Some U.S. schools still have diploma programs, offering students an entry-level education that prepares them to sit for the NCLEX-RN. Many also offer an associate degree.

  • This program is an advantage for students who want their education to occur in a hospital setting. Some programs are completed in less than two years.
  • The disadvantages are that there are few programs available.

ADN or ASN—the Associate Degree in Nursing or Associate of Science in Nursing provides students with a college-based education, with some belonging to a state’s community college system. Graduates of these two-to-three-year programs are prepared for entry level RN roles after passing the NCLEX-RN and becoming licensed.

  • These programs offer an economical education that can be completed in about two years. Accredited programs give students the opportunity to transfer credits toward advancing their education.
  • Disadvantages are primarily in limited entry-level job options, as this education is not considered one that leads to management.

BSN—the Bachelor of Science in Nursing is awarded to students graduating from a baccalaureate program associated with a four-year college or university. The course of study includes liberal arts, research and management. Graduates are prepared to assume leadership roles after passing the NCLEX-RN and becoming licensed. Some will move on to graduate studies, including programs that lead to advanced nursing practice.

  • BSN graduates are highly desired and the most preferred applicants in a number of settings. This is an advantage even as an entry-level nurse. The BSN graduate is positioned to advance quickly in leadership roles.
  • The greatest disadvantage is the four-year commitment. However, this time commitment is typical of most any bachelor’s level program.

So, What’s an RN to BSN All About?

The RN to BSN program is designed for working RNs to continue their education while fulfilling life responsibilities. Upon completing the degree and graduating with a BSN, you can look into career advancement opportunities including leadership or management roles. Here’s the process for launching your RN to BSN journey:

  • First, you should apply to your preferred degree program. The transcript from your associate or diploma program is reviewed to provide you with transfer credit.
  • Once you are accepted, an advisor works with you to map out your course of study.

Nursing Program Accreditation and Your Future

Regardless of the type of education you choose, be sure your preferred nursing program is accredited by one of these organizations:

Reasons for Choosing Regent University

  • The Regent University RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
  • You may complete your coursework online in convenient 8-week sessions. This means a Regent RN to B.S. in Nursing degree works with a variety of schedules.
  • Transfer up to 90 credit hours
  • No nursing prerequisite courses required
  • Prior Learning Assessment Credit for Anatomy & Physiology

You’ll also be glad to know that Regent is listed among the top 5% of the most affordable private Christian universities in the U.S. Finally, we offer specialized Career & Talent Management to guide and support professional growth.


What’s Next?

Did learning about nursing peak your interest in exploring more? Regent University’s RN to B.S. in Nursing program provides a great opportunity for licensed registered nurses wanting to build upon their nursing expertise with a focus on mind, body and spirit. Develop the skills and criteria hospitals and healthcare organizations seek through online coursework taught from a Christian worldview.

Regent University’s admissions counselors are ready to answer questions and help you work through financial aid so you can move ahead in this promising field. Whether you’re ready to take the leap, or simply want some more information, you can reach them at 800.373.5504.