what can you do with a bachelor’s in nursing degree

What Can You Do with a BSN Degree? Careers In & Beyond Nursing

Find out what you can do with a BSN in the nursing field, and what you can do besides nursing.

The field of nursing – and healthcare as a whole – is constantly evolving. As the baby boomer population ages, and more complex health conditions emerge, forward-thinking nursing professionals are needed to step in. As a result, employers are looking for highly-skilled, highly-educated nurses with a BSN degree.

Whether you are new to nursing or an already-seasoned RN, a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) can lead to many advanced career opportunities. Not to mention, a growing number of healthcare employers now expect their nursing hires to have a BSN degree. And many other careers – including those outside of patient care – require a Bachelor’s in Nursing at minimum.

Why is a BSN Degree Important?

An associate degree in Nursing is the minimum requirement to become a registered nurse (RN) today. However, a baccalaureate-level education is becoming a standard within the nursing workforce. According to new data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 70 percent of employers now express a strong preference for BSN program graduates. About 25 percent of hospitals and other healthcare settings now require new hires to have a bachelor’s degree in Nursing, although it’s still possible to become a nurse without a BSN.

Of course, there is reason behind the push for BSN-educated nurses. Registered nurses with a BSN have been linked to better patient outcomes, like lower mortality rates, than those with less time in nursing school. As stated by the National Association of School Nurses:

“Baccalaureate nursing education develops competencies in leadership, critical thinking, quality improvement, and systems thinking. It provides graduates with nursing theory and clinical experience and cultivates their ability to translate research into evidence-based nursing practice. Baccalaureate prepared nurses also address and analyze current and emerging healthcare issues, including the need for health policy and healthcare financing.”

Due to the advanced nature of a BSN degree, and the skills obtained in BSN programs, nurses are able to have a greater impact on their patients. And while patients experience the benefits of a BSN, so do working RNs! RNs with a BSN degree in hand are also more likely to earn a higher compensation and qualify for more job opportunities.

With a BSN degree becoming a growing requirement for nurses, you may be wondering, “What can I do with a BSN degree?”

Let’s explore some of the career possibilities with a BSN in hand.

What Can You Do with a BSN Degree in Nursing?

Nursing is rife with opportunity, especially for nurses with a BSN degree. BSN programs place a greater focus on nursing theory, healthcare policies, nursing leadership, and research methods, in contrast to associate-level programs that develop skills in patient care. As such, BSN degree holders are eligible for more advanced nursing careers in management, research, and various nursing specialties.

Below are three, popular examples of nursing careers you can pursue with a BSN degree:

1. Case Management Nurse

In registered nursing, it is typical to treat patients for only a short period of time. For example, wrapping a bandage, taking a person’s vital signs, or administering an IV. Case management nurses, on the other hand, focus on long-term patient care. They primarily care for patients with chronic or complicated medical conditions, treating them over the entire course of an illness or injury. Case management nurses work alongside doctors to coordinate, implement, and oversee a patient’s care from start to finish.
A bachelor’s degree is the preferred level of education for case management nurses today. In addition to higher education, hospital hiring managers also look for nurses with hours of clinical experience and certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), although this is not required.

2. School Nurse

More than likely, you’ve encountered a few school nurses in your day. You know – the person you went to went you weren’t feeling well in class; the person you were sent to when you got hurt in Phys Ed. But did you know that school nurses take on other duties during the school days? These caregivers also help teachers assess the developmental needs and abilities of students, and further create safe and effective learning environments for them to succeed. Not only do they treat illness, but school nurses also help with learning disabilities and mental health conditions (such as ADHD or autism spectrum disorders). Without a doubt, school nurses are among the most vital faculty members in schools today.

If you enjoy working with children, are a strong communicator, and are passionate about helping youth grow, a career as a school nurse may be the right path for you. According to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), you must have a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing as well as RN licensure in order to qualify for an entry-level position as a school nurse.

3. Military/Army Nurse

If you are looking for a nursing career that is truly different from the rest – a career in which you can travel the world, run an entire hospital, use the most current and cutting-edge medical technology, be commissioned as an officer, and receive tuition reimbursement or compensation towards an advanced nursing degree – you might consider a position as a military nurse.
Military nurse officers have the option to serve the U.S. Army, Army Reserve, U.S. Navy, or Air Force. Your responsibilities and duties will depend on the path you take. Generally speaking, though, you can expect to work in peacetime, wartime, and across borders with foreign allies. In peacetime, you may care for active-duty personnel, military retirees, or civilian emergency patients. In wartime, you can expect to provide medical support directly to the wounded and critically ill. You may also have the opportunity to work with healthcare professionals from allied countries around the globe.

If you desire to work in the U.S. Army or U.S. Naval Corps, you must hold a BSN degree from an accredited nursing school. You must also be a U.S. citizen and be willing to serve a minimum of three years of Active Duty. Interestingly enough, the U.S. Army has positions available in many specialties, including obstetrics/gynecology, critical care, nurse anesthesia, community health, psychiatric health, as well as advanced practice nursing roles such as nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists (requiring an MSN). Additional training courses and educational opportunities are available to nurses in the U.S. Army and Naval Corps.

What Can You Do with a BSN Besides Nursing?

Perhaps you are a registered nurse looking to advance your education and break out of patient care. You are not alone! Nearly 500,000 nurses reportedly left bedside care in 2022. Fortunately, a BSN degree can be a great pathway towards something different. As mentioned, BSN degree programs focus on competencies beyond patient care. Nurses develop critical thinking and leadership skills, research experience, and theoretical knowledge to impact healthcare environments even behind-the-scenes. They can put these learned skills to practice in a variety of careers outside of direct patient care nursing. Below are three more examples.

1. Clinical Research Nurse

If you do not want to be involved with direct patient care, but still want to make an impact on the healthcare system, you may consider becoming a clinical research nurse. Research nurses are the behind-the-scenes professionals collecting data and information for medical studies. From measuring the effectiveness of a drug to exploring new medical processes, they help to prevent disease and disability, manage and eliminate illness, enhance the overall healthcare system, and build the scientific foundation for clinical practice.

To become a research nurse today, it is recommended that you earn at least a BSN degree. This level of education will give you the comprehensive training and knowledge needed to land a job in a clinical setting. The right bachelor’s program will also help you develop the skills (critical thinking, writing and reading comprehension, time management, and more) needed to succeed in the medical research field.

2. Informatics Nurse

The healthcare field is consistently advancing, along with the information technology (IT) behind it. If you enjoy working with technology and have a knack for computer science, a career as an informatics nurse may be right up your alley. Informatic nurse specialists are integral members of the healthcare team, working to manage, interpret, and communicate medical data, records, and systems in a clinical facility. Informatic nurses also help develop new medical technologies for clinical settings and train other nurses on the latest IT systems.

A BSN degree is generally the minimum requirement for informatics nursing. In order to earn the informatics nursing credential from the ANCC, you must hold: (1) a current RN license; (2) a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in nursing; (3) at least 30 hours of coursework in informatics nursing; (4) hands-on, clinical practice experience of 200 hours or more.

3. Healthcare Policy and Planning Nurse

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an increasing number of employers need registered nurses to fulfill jobs in health planning and policy development. These nurses are able to make a major impact on the healthcare system as a whole, and in turn affect public health in the United States. How, you ask? Nurses who specialize in health policy and planning work alongside policymakers in government settings and healthcare organizations. Their chief goal is to improve various aspects of healthcare, making it more accessible for people in need and ensuring healthcare providers are meeting quality and compliance standards. These nurses help to develop policies and procedures that ultimately lead to better patient care outcomes and more effective processes in clinical facilities.

To become a health policy nurse, a bachelor’s degree in Nursing is expected among candidates. BSN graduates have completed coursework in healthcare policy and development, and therefore a good understanding of the political and regulatory processes in healthcare. However, nurses should consider starting their career as a practicing registered nurse, as firsthand, patient care experience can be a valuable asset when it comes to developing healthcare policies.

According to the BLS, registered nurses who work in government settings like this are the highest paid among all RNs in the United States. Government-employed nurses earn a median annual salary of $92,310 per year (as of May 2022).

What Can You Do to Advance Your BSN Education?

If you have earned your BSN degree and are not sure what to do next, know that entering a career is not your only option. You may also continue your education. Many registered nurses earn their BSN degree so that they can pursue a Master’s in Nursing (MSN). A Master’s in Nursing will make you eligible for upper-level and advanced practice positions in the nursing field, such as:

  • Nurse Practitioner (such as a Family Nurse Practitioner or Psychiatric Mental Health NP)
  • Nurse Manager (also called a Nurse Administrator)
  • Nurse Educator
  • Clinical Nurse Leader

The question, “What can you do with a BSN degree?” comes with many answers. You can pursue the thriving and highly rewarding jobs described above, or pursue an MSN degree upon completing your BSN program. The choice is up to you, but no choice is the wrong one. Nursing is brimming with opportunity, especially for those with a Bachelor’s in Nursing degree.

BSN graduates are the future of the nursing field – start your career path today! Call Goodwin University at 800-889-3282 to learn about earning your BSN degree online or in CT.