RN to BSN Bridge Programs
Registered nurses (RNs) work to provide care, education, advice, and support to their patients as well as to the public. As the nursing field continues to grow, nurses with higher degrees are in greater demand. You can work as a RN with an associate’s degree as long as you pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), but you are more likely to land a job and pull in a higher salary with a bachelor’s degree.
If you are already licensed and working as a RN, but would like to continue your education to earn your bachelor’s degree, there are RN to BSN (registered nurse to a bachelor’s of science in nursing) bridge programs that will allow you to meet your goals in half the time of a full BSN program. The flexibility of these programs, especially ones that are offered online, allow you to complete your coursework on your own time.
When applying to a RN to BSN program, you are essentially applying as a transfer student because you already have your RN associate degree and license. As a transfer, it is important to be aware of what you are required to have to be considered into their program. While the prerequisites vary with each program, most education institutions expect potential students of their programs to meet these qualifications:
- Have a nursing associate degree from an accredited program.
- Complete associate-level classes and any clinical hours with a “C,” and an overall GPA of a 2.0 or better.
- Pass the NCLEX-RN.
- Hold a valid, active nursing license in the state in which they live.
If you can meet those demands, then it is time to take a look at your transcript. Simply because you have a degree, does not necessarily mean that you have taken all of the courses needed to enter the BSN bridge program. If you have completed those courses, sometimes educational institutions still would like for you to complete a few more with them prior to being admitted into the actual bridge program. In addition to basic core classes like English, history, psychology, and statistics, you may be asked to complete additional courses in the topics listed below.
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Human Nutrition
Once all of these are fulfilled and squared-away, you can then submit your application to the bridge program with confidence. Mentioning any real-work experience that you have had as a RN can help you stand out from the other applicants in the admissions process.
Degree Coursework and Training
It may be a rigorous process to get into the bridge program, but it is well worth the effort. A BSN bridge program will dive deeper into nursing, allowing you to expand upon what you learned in your associate program. You will have the opportunity to learn about specific areas like critical care and pediatric nursing through elective courses or possibly even a minor. Both online and traditional bridge programs will integrate the following subjects into your required major courses:
- Concepts and Processes for Contemporary Nursing
- Informatics for Professional Nurses
- Research in Nursing Practice
- Leadership and Management in Nursing
- Exploring Complementary/Alternative Practices
The concepts learned in these courses will help build your confidence, allowing you to become a more competent healthcare provider. However merely studying these concepts will not be entirely useful in the workforce, which is why all accredited BSN programs also have a clinical component.
Know that this hands-on requirement will go above and beyond what you may have had to complete for your associate degree or prior work experience. The goal of the clinical hours in a BSN setting is for you to foster your newly found understanding of what it means to be a nurse. Every program is different, and you may have the opportunity to apply any of the proceeding patient care, administrative, and community outreach tasks:
- Collaborate on projects with nursing students and staff.
- Communicate with patients and their families.
- Interact with the healthcare organization’s informatics system.
- Implement leadership and management skills through staff seminars and community-oriented workshops
- Provide patient care to a specific population.
Gaining clinical experience can be the highlight of your time spent in a BSN bridge program. If you play your cards right, you could make excellent connections that can open up opportunities for career advancement once you have received your BSN degree.
My Degree and What It Is Good For
Due to the high demand of RNs, once you have your BSN you will be able to find a job nearly any organization offering healthcare services. You can look forward to expanding your career in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, doctors’ offices, and more. Depending on your clinical experience, you may be able to work in any of these specialized areas:
- Surgical Nursing
- Forensic Nursing
- Neonatal Nursing
- Oncology Nursing
- Health Policy Nursing
The biggest difference that you will find is that, once you have your BSN degree, you will be qualified for more leadership roles. You can even apply for higher up management positions and other specialties, once you have had a few years of experience and decided to pursue a master’s of science in nursing (MSN).
My Earning Potential
Becoming a nurse is about being able to help the people around you lead healthier lives. While this is true, it does not mean that you cannot aim for a greater income. Pursuing higher education will make you a more competitive candidate in the job market, and increase your salary potential.
In 2014, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average annual salary for RNs was $69,790 nation-wide. There are a variety of factors that can affect your overall earnings, and the main contributors include:
- Type of facility
- Leadership Role
Attaining higher levels of education can make you a front-runner in the job market, which is imperative as the nursing field continues to grow. There are many schools that offer online programs, as well as financial aid options. Check out more of our website to find out how earning your degree is easier than it ever was before.