What’s the Difference Between an RN & BSN Degree?

Do you have a passion for helping others? Do you have an interest in healthcare and the medical field? You could have what it takes to become a nurse. Nursing is an incredibly rewarding job that is always in demand. But first thing’s first: You need an education. Whether you have friends or family members who are in the nursing field, or have just been researching your nursing degree options, you may have noticed that some RNs (Registered Nurses) have associate level degrees while others have pursued a bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN). The question remains, what’s the difference between RN and BSN degrees? And which degree path aligns most with your career goals? Let’s break it down.

Going for Your RN Certification

If you want to become a full-practicing nurse, working with patients in need and designing care plans, your first step will be to pursue an RN education and certification. In Connecticut, you must meet certain educational requirements and pass the NCLEX-RN exam before earning your title as a Registered Nurse.

Most RNs in Connecticut will begin their path with an associate degree in Nursing (ADN), commonly referred to as an RN degree. This provides them with the classroom and on-the-job training needed to pass their NCLEX-RN exam and begin working in the nursing field. The associate degree in Nursing at Goodwin College, for example, focuses on honing the clinical skills of our students with hands-on training and experience in real-life care settings. An associate degree is the standard among nurses today and is expected by most healthcare employers. Still, some prefer nurses who hold a BSN degree.

Most ADN or RN degree programs take about two years to complete and combine clinical and classroom instruction. At Goodwin, however, you can complete the coursework for your RN degree in as few as 20-months part-time. Like many of the programs at Goodwin, most RN classes are offered days and evenings. This can help students maintain part-time and full-time jobs, or care for loved ones. Clinical experiences are chosen by lottery and there are day, evening, and weekend options available.

The associate degree in Nursing is a selective admission program – meaning students may apply into the program only after completion of all required prerequisite coursework. While completing your nursing school prerequisites, you will also be able to take classes in our bachelor’s level Health Science program. After being accepted into our Registered Nursing program, you will be then able to take the core nursing classes towards your associate degree.

Once you earn your degree, you will take the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) to become licensed as an RN. Once you have passed the NCLEX and are licensed as an RN, you may start your career as a nurse, or continue your education to earn your BSN degree!

Many students choose to start work once they’ve earned their Associate Degree and become certified as an RN. Goodwin graduates with an RN degree in hand go on to pursue nursing careers they love, in a variety of healthcare settings, such as:

  • Community Health Centers
  • Doctors’ Offices
  • Home Health Care Services
  • Hospice Facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Long-term Care Facilities
  • Nursing Supervision & Management
  • Occupational & Industrial Nursing

In Connecticut, Registered Nurses earn an annual mean wage of $78,270 – higher than the national annual mean wage of $72,180!

The job outlook for RNs is a great one: Employment is expected to grow 15 percent in the next eight years, much faster than the average for all occupations. There are several reasons for this growth. For one thing, the elderly population is growing, thanks to the baby boomer generation. Nurses also need to care for more patients suffering from chronic conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes and obesity.

What About a BSN Degree?

You may now be wondering, If I can become an RN with an associate degree, why should I go for a BSN? This is a question asked by many aspiring and seasoned nurses alike. The fact of the matter is, it’s what many employers prefer. Connecticut, for example, is working to have an 80% BSN workforce by 2020. Nationwide, 78.6% of healthcare employers express strong preference for grads with a BSN degree.

Experts believe that a BSN degree leads to improved quality of care for patients, increased job availability, and higher salary potential, in comparison to nurses holding a diploma or associate RN degree. Let’s start with increased job availability. In general, BSN level graduates qualify for more nursing positions than their counterparts. According to a study cited by Nursejournal.org, a nurse with a BSN degree qualifies for about 88% of all nursing job postings. A nurse with an RN degree qualifies for just over 50% of those jobs.

Students of Goodwin’s BSN program are prepared to practice professional nursing as a generalist because they possess skills that are applicable across all health care settings. They are also prepared to enter graduate MSN study, if they wish. As a licensed BSN nurse, you can pursue careers in:

  • School nursing
  • Home health care services
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Physicians’ offices

If you are considering pursuing a BSN degree, rest assured that it’s easier to go for than ever before – especially if you are already working as an RN nurse. Goodwin’s RN to BSN program, for example, is extremely flexible for nurses who would like to advance from an RN degree to a BSN, while still working full- or part-time. Unlike most four-year bachelor’s degree programs, our RN-to-BSN curriculum can be completed part-time in just 16 months or uniquely designed to meet your scheduling needs. For added convenience, the RN-to-BSN program can be taken fully online.

After earning your BSN degree, you will be able to:

  • Practice professional nursing from a holistic, visionary, culturally competent base
  • Design, manage, and coordinate care for individual patients, families, and populations
  • Apply knowledge from nursing theory, practice, and research to professional nursing practice
  • Integrate and demonstrate leadership and management skills utilizing critical and creative thinking, ethical decision making, and evidenced-based practice
  • Design, manage and coordinate care utilizing good communication skills
  • Advocate for patients, families, and communities based on a respect for cultural diversity
  • Collaborate and communicate with patients, families and team members
  • Make a commitment to life-long learning within the nursing profession

These are some of the basic differences between RN and BSN degrees. Whether you are interested in starting your nursing career or looking to advance your education and earn your BSN degree, contact Goodwin College at 1-800-889-3282 for more information. You may also visit us online to learn more.