Welcome to the RNCareers 2017 RN to BSN programs guide. We’ve put a lot of work into this, and are pretty sure we’ve covered everything a potential RN to BSN student should know before embarking on their studies. Use the navigation menu on the left to skip to areas you’re most interested in, or just have a good read through the whole piece to get a thorough understanding of how an RN can get their BSN, and what to expect along the way.
Do Today’s Nurses Need a BSN
One of the biggest questions nurses who have a diploma or associate’s degree will ask is why they need a BSN Degree for Nursing. Some nurses see that years of experience is more valuable than an the extra two years of college. However, getting a BSN is more than just two more years of college. The education that is provided in a BSN will allow for better opportunities in the long run. Even if you have a bachelors degree in another field you will find that in nursing having a BSN is essential, especially if you want to further your nursing career.
Differences Between RN and BSN Schooling and Education
In the United States, there are three different educational programs in becoming a registered nurse. The three different types of nursing programs and nursing schools are; Diploma programs, associate’s degree programs and baccalaureate degree programs. All programs prepare students to take the national exam for registered nurses NCLEX. NCLEX stands for National Council (of State Boards of Nursing) Licensure Examination. The differences between the programs are the amount of education and course you take and the length of time to complete the program. Diploma and associate programs will take 2-3 years to complete and a baccalaureate program will take 4-5 years to complete. One major difference between the programs is the amount of classes required for a BSN Degree for Nursing. For example, nutrition is a core competency requirement for nursing education. In a baccalaureate program, students will often take a 2 or 3 credit nutrition class. In a diploma and ADN programs, nutrition content is often integrated thought-out the different nursing classes, and although the content is covered it is not a separate class. Nutrition is often a class that a diploma or ADN nurse will need to take in an RN to BSN program.
Differences Between RN and BSN Work
All students who pass the NCLEX exam and become a registered nurse. All programs prepare nurses to practice at an entry level nursing position. However, there are fundamental differences in work and job opportunities between the educational preparation of an RN with a BSN degree and RN with an ADN or Diploma degree. The differences in job opportunities are usually not significant at the beginning of a nurse’s career or if you work in an area with an extreme shortage of registered nurses. All nursing programs prepare nurses to care for patients in the hospital setting. The difference in opportunities comes later as the nurse considers the opportunities for career advancement, for positions that are highly competitive, and/or for positions that are beyond bedside nursing. The BSN has had a more expansive educational preparation, their education prepares them for a broader scope of nursing and includes essential aspects such as management, leadership, community, and case management to name a few.
BSN Student Example
Marjorie graduated from her local hospital school of nursing in 1984, and was awarded a diploma in nursing and started working on the burn trauma unit at one of the major hospitals. She toyed with the idea of returning back to school, but life was soon complicated with marriage and children. For several years, Marjorie was happily working as a staff nurse on the same floor, she did her required rotational shifts and as a senior nurse got her pick of the holidays she could have off. As the hospital grew larger senior nursing leadership wanted to obtain Magnet status and in doing so made stricter criteria for BSN preparation for some nursing positions. Although Marjorie was happily working as a staff nurse the constant years of having to rotate to nights was wearing on her and her family life. To her luck the burn trauma unit greatly expanded and the need for an additional Charge Nurse was needed full-time on the day shift. As one of the most senior and experienced nurses, she most likely was going to be selected as the best candidate for the position, until she learned that the new requirements for charge nurses included a BSN Degree for Nursing. With luck on her side, she also learned that the hospital was invested in RNs getting their BSN. After several meetings with her director and nursing and hospital administration she was granted the position with strict conditions of returning back to school and obtaining her BSN within five years. To date, Marjorie is working the day shift as the Charge Nurse of a newly expanded Burn Trauma Unit and taking classes on weekends and evenings for her BSN degree in Nursing. Majorie even utilized her new education and implemented a new nursing protocol on sepsis on her unit, largely due to her course work she had to complete for classes and was able to directly implement in her unit.
IOM Report for RN and BSN
One of the strongest proponent for nurses obtaining their BSN comes from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the 2010 Future of Nursing report. The report recommends for an increase in the percent of nurses having a Bachelors degree. Currently there are a little over 50% of clinical registered nurses who have a BSN in the United States. The IOM recommends this proportion to increase to over 80%. The IOM states that today’s dynamic health care system, the increase in complexity of healthcare patients require, necessitates the need for highly educated nurses. These recommendations are supported through multiple studies which have examined the impact of BSN prepared nurses and patient outcomes. These studies show that there are lower mortality rates in hospitals which have a higher portion of BSN nurses working compared to hospitals with a higher portion of diploma or ADN nurses. The IOM has set forth specific recommendation to help achieve RN in obtaining their BSN degrees are:
- Require Nursing School to offer seamless pathways to higher education
- Encourage healthcare organizations to actively encourage and provide incentives for diploma and ADN nurses to obtain a BSN within 5 years of graduation
- Engage private and public stakeholders in providing more opportunities for funding
Career Advancement for BSN Registered Nurses
One major incentive for getting a BSN is for the many career advancement opportunities. Hospitals and healthcare organizations are now listing a BSN as a requirement for many positions including some entry level positions. This is a major change from previous positions “preferring” nurses with a BSN and now many “requiring” a BSN degree. As this change occurs registered nurses with a diploma or an ADN degree will have a much harder time obtaining positions than an RN with a BSN. Nurses with a BSN degree will be able to apply for a greater number of positions and have a much easier time getting a position. This will soon change the landscape of where nurses can work and soon fewer Diploma and ADN nurses will be working in hospitals and will be working in other healthcare sectors, such as skill nursing facilities and nursing homes. Having a BSN also can mean a difference in pay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income for a registered nurse working in a hospital $71,640, and the average annual income for a registered nurse working in a skilled nursing facility is $62,440. Another serious concern for non-BSN nurses are fewer job options, even in a hospital. If hospitals and healthcare institutions are moving towards having available positions requiring a BSN degree in nursing, then nurses without a BSN may be stuck in their current position and not able to change departments or specialties. Issues with morale can occur because BSN nurses with only a few years’ experience may be chosen for specific positions over nurses without a BSN despite their years of experience.
Professional Nursing Development
Nursing is a career in which there is a commitment for ongoing professional nursing development. This is most often seen in achieving specialty certifications and maintaining licensure requirements of continuing educational units. Making the commitment of obtaining a BSN is a testament to ones’ commitment to their own professional nursing development. Despite the different educational programs, all nursing schools prepare students to take the NCLEX test and for obtaining an entry level nursing position.
Nursing Positions Requiring a BSN Degree for Nursing
Nowadays, many employers recognize the need and importance of nurses having a BSN degree and will set limits on who they will hire. Some hospitals have started implementing strict criteria. Some hospitals have gone as far as warning all diploma and ADN nurses to obtain their BSN within a certain time frame or risk losing their positions. Nurses today work in a dynamic healthcare system, diversity of patient populations and complex healthcare needs of patients requiring critical, evidence based decisions and care. Hospital are recognizing the necessity of BSN nurses not only to enhance the quality of healthcare but also as instrumental in other essential roles nurse have in leadership, research and education which is fundamental to improving healthcare delivery and outcomes.
RN and BSN Magnet Hospital Status
Magnet Status is a program developed by the American Nurses Association (ANA) and is internationally recognized as a hallmark nursing healthcare model. The American Nurses Credentialing Center, which is part of the ANA, has developed specific measurements of nursing quality which hospital have to meet to become certified and recognized as a Magnet status. Some the qualities a magnet hospital has relates to nursing such as better patient health outcomes and overall better communication between nurses, patients and other health care providers. Hospitals that have Magnet status have shown to have lower mortality and morbidity rates, and fewer patient falls. All these qualities, then lead to higher job satisfaction and less turnover. One of the core values of Magnet status is the commitment to nurses who work in the hospital. Magnet hospital have a higher percentage of BSN nurses. For now, hospitals can opt to apply and partake in the journey of Magnet status. To date healthcare reimbursements are not affected by a hospital Magnet status. However, if hospitals will be reimbursed differently depending on Magnet status, then you can expect a trend in hospitals requiring nurses to obtain their BSN.
Typical RN to BSN Courses
RN to BSN programs typically include core nursing courses fundamental to nursing education. In addition, some the RN to BSN programs will require you to take courses that meets the requirement of the college or university for graduation such as electives. Some of the BSN college courses are classes or content that was integrated throughout the diploma and ADN programs. Although you may have had been taught the educational material, it was not a stand-alone course which may be a requirement for the RN to BSN program. This may mean that some of the information and the courses you have previously taken in your diploma and ADN program and now need to take again in the RN to BSN program. Even if the content was covered in your previous schooling, much of the science based BSN college courses have changed as new evidence emerges which be new information.
RN to BSN Contemporary, Transition or Professional Nursing Role Classes
One of the very first classes nurses will take in an RN to BSN program is a contemporary, transition or professional nursing role class. This type of class provides the foundation for a synthesis of prior educational learning and work experience with baccalaureate educational preparation for your BSN college courses. For some nurses who have been out of school for several years or even decades, this is a great introduction to the RN to BSN program. The concepts discussed in the course often cover professional role, critical thinking and communication. Theories of nursing and healthcare are often explored in relationship to professional nursing practice. This course enhances previous learning experiences and your transition into the baccalaureate-nursing role.
Research Classes for BSN Students
A nursing research class introduces the importance of research concepts, which are fundamental to the discipline of nursing. BSN research classes often focus on the research process in the discovery of knowledge and the relevance of research outcomes to nursing practice. Beginning research concepts such as formulating research questions and hypothesis are often explored. You will most likely have to research topics and prepare literature reviews, which are essential to research and evidence based practices. One helpful tip is to select a nursing topic of interest and relevance to your clinical practice. This will allow you to directly relate and have a better understanding of the topic as well as a direct impact on your clinical and professional practice.
Statistics Classes for BSN Students
Statistics class is perhaps one of the more challenging BSN college courses you will take in your RN to BSN program. A basic understanding of statistic is essential in the healthcare sector. This class is typically an introductory class and you will learn basic statistical concepts such as: hypothesis testing, data collection, normal distributions, bell curve, and probabilities. You will most likely have to learn how to calculate standard deviations and probabilities. Computer assignment may be given and you may need to create statistical charts and graphs and analyze them. One great tip is to stay ahead with all your readings and assignments for this class. If something is difficult to understand or you are having trouble, contact the professor or teacher’s assistant right away and set up a meeting to discuss your questions. All professors are required to hold times when they can meet with students, ask at the beginning of the class for the office hours and contact information so that when you have an issue you can contact your professor. It may also be helpful to try to search on YouTube for the specific topic and view videos that have been made. It is also highly recommended that you take a statistics class before you begin your research class because this will give you a better foundation in understanding the research concepts that will be introduced in your research class.
Pathophysiology BSN Classes
One class essential for a BSN degree is a Pathophysiology class. Many diploma and associate degree programs integrated pathophysiology contents throughout the different BSN college courses. Pathophysiology involves an understanding of how cells, tissues, organs and organ systems respond to varying disease processes. In some ways this may be an easy course for nurses who have a fundamental understanding of pathophysiology. For some students this may be a refresher and for others it may be a bit more of a challenge especially if you work in a specialized area where your current patient population may not reflec many of the disease processes in the course.
Health Assessment BSN Classes
Health assessment is a core educational component of all nursing educational programs. For many diploma and ADN nurses, health assessment was integrated throughout the nursing classes and clinicals. In a BSN program health assessment is a separate class and college credit is given. Most RNs utilize health assessment skills in their clinical practice and this course will be a refresher for most RNs.
Basic components of a health assessment class:
- Assessing the health of patients and families throughout the life span.
- Basic techniques of a physical exam and health assessment.
- Basic interviewing and history taking skills.
- Recognizing and interpretation of normal findings.
- Recognizing normal findings from the most common abnormal findings
Population or Community Health BSN Nursing Courses
One core class missing in many diploma and associate degree program is a community health or population course. This is a critical course and instrumental in understanding about healthcare in a more global and comprehensive way. These courses typically focus on the nurses’ role in disease prevention and health promotion in a community and/or global perspective. Concepts such as environmental health and epidemiology are explored and the impact to ones’ health. Most RN to BSN programs will require a clinical component and often the community nursing class is where you will complete this requirement. This may mean that you will shadow and spend time with a nurse who works in a community with underserved populations or complete a community project such as a community needs assessment. Check with your program for the specific clinical requirements and how they integrate this into the RN to BSN program.
Top Concepts taught in a Community Nursing course:
- Disease prevention
- Health and wellness promotion programs
- Health screening
- High risk and at risk behaviors
- Lifestyle choices
- Cultural difference between the populations
- Marginalized and underserved populations
Nursing Leadership and Management for BSN Students
Nursing leadership and management is a class which most RN to BSN schools require. In this class you can expect to learn about the principles of leadership and management and how they may be applied to healthcare settings. Students often learn about the skills needed to complete management and administrative tasks, as well as principals of human material resources, health care finances, professional organizations and ethical implications. A BSN degree is a fundamental degree for nursing managers, supervisors, directors and any nurse in administrations. Some school implement a clinical requirement for this class and may you shadowing a nurse leader or nurse manager. This allows the RN student to observe firsthand who BSN prepared nurses apply their skills in leadership and management roles.
Nutrition Class for BSN Students
A nutrition class is a core requirement for any BSN programs. In many ADN programs you may have taken a 2 or 3 credit nutrition course, which may be transferable into the RN to BSN program. However, for some ADN programs and diploma programs the nutrition content was often covered within the different nursing classes and not a separate class. For example, when you were learning about Diabetes Mellitus, the diabetic diet was covered. Although it met the requirements for the nutrition component, it was not a separate class and did not award college credits. For many nurses this will be a course that will need to be taken.
Key nutrition class topics
- The types of nutrients needed for healthy body and diet
- How nutrients are used within the body, cells and various organs
- How nutrition affects your health
- How the body responds to too much or too little nutrients
- How your body uses nutrients
- How nutrition affects the various disease process and importance of specific diets for specific diseases and illness
- How your nutrient needs change at different stages of life; infancy, childhood, adulthood, older years
Electives for BSN College Courses
Many RN to BSN college courses may require you to take a few electives. Electives can sound like a nice easy class, but students must be aware that this is not always the case. First, you will want to find out if the program has specific electives that you need to take or if you can take any class as an elective. If the school has specific elective that you will need to take, then it will be in your best interest to find out when they are held. Some electives only run once a year and if you miss taking an elective at the specific time then you can run the risk of having your graduation delayed because you need to wait until the class is held again. Another misconception about electives is that they can be easy. It can be a terrible mistake on the part of the student to assume that electives are easy. Electives require the same amount of work, time, effort and studying as a mandatory class It may sound fun to take an art class as your elective, but if you have a hard time drawing and making pictures then this may turn out to be a very challenging class and you may find yourself with a low grade. Having a poor grade, even if it is an elective, can bring down your GPA. For some students having a specific GPA is required for scholarship and grant funding as well as acceptance in a Master’s degree program. You may want to check with the professor of the course and ask about the workload or check with someone who has taken the class previously to help determine expected work load and if the particular elective would be a good class for you to take.
Specific BSN College Course Requirements
Many schools have specific course requirements that you will need to take to graduate with you BSN. For example, if you go to a liberal arts college, you may need to take a course that meets this requirement. This may mean taking a class that has an artistic component. Nursing is considered both an art and science; therefore, you may be able to justify a nursing course meeting an artistic component. In some colleges, courses such as holistic nursing or art and science of nursing, meet the artistic component of a liberal arts school. Some colleges have religious affiliations and one of their requirements is often a course with a religious component, for some students this is a non-issue and for some other students this may be a very strong issue and may impact your decision in selecting RN to BSN programs. It is worth researching what the requirements are for the RN to BSN program because they may have some bearing on your own deciding what school is best for you.
Selecting an RN to BSN Program
You’ve determined to take that next step in furthering your nursing education and earn your Bachelor’s degree. The good word is that there are now more RN to BSN programs than ever before. Students nowadays can be more selective in choosing an educational plan that works for them. Selecting a program from the many available schools can be a challenge for some, especially if you are unfamiliar about the changes the educational system over they years. Researching information about the different schools and programs will help you reach the best decision in choosing the right RN to BSN program for you. Discussed are some key aspects to consider when researching schools.
How to Find and Choose the Best RN to BSN Program
One of the best approaches in choosing an RN to BSN program is to start with searching your local area for programs. You can begin the search with the place you graduated from nursing school. Even if years have passed your school of nursing may have partnered with a college or university and now have an RN to BSN programs. Going to a program where you have graduated has many benefits. Not only are you familiar with the institution, but acceptance into the program may be easier because they have many of the necessary transcripts and academic records. Additionally some school have a alumni discounts and as an alumni there may also be some cost saving benefits. Another consideration when choosing an RN to BSN program is the format of classes of the program. With the increase in RN to BSN program, students have various options in taking classes in a traditional classroom or online classes. You should think about your learning style so that you can select the RN to BSN program that will fit with how you best learn. The cost of the program is another factor to look at. Tuition rates can vary considerably, with some institution charging per credit hour, and other charging per course or per semester. Tuition may also be based on the status of a student being full-time or part-time. There may also be differences in cost based on your residency and where the school is. Many schools will charge different rates for who have an in State residency and a different cost for those students who live out of state. It is important to check with your school and ask the academic advisor about the cost and whatever fees that you can expect to pay before making a decision. Remember, nursing programs can be expensive, but having a BSN degree is a worthwhile investment leading to greater economic and job opportunities down the road. Lastly, before choosing an RN to BSN program, check or ask if the program holds accreditation. Although the school may award you a BSN degree if they are not accredited it may mean that you will experience problems down the road. For example, if you are looking to advance your education after your BSN and apply to schools they may not accept you because you did not graduate from an accredited program. It is worth asking if the school has been accredited, especially if you consider perusing a Master’s or Doctorate degree.
Top Things to Consider When Seeking a RN to BSN Program:
- Convenience of Classes
- Format of Classes
Importance of Regional Accreditation for BSN Programs
Accreditation is the process a school participates in to demonstrate the ability to meet specific criteria and standards that have been set by an accreditation agency. This includes the nursing curriculum and educational outcomes and if met by a school is considered to have a quality education program. Most colleges, university and career programs are accredited through national programs. Some online programs may also need to be accredited through state specific organizations or state Board of Nursing and are required to meet both national and regional accreditation standards.
Accredited BSN Programs: CCNE vs ACEN
The largest nursing educational accreditation organizations in the U.S. are the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Accreditation ensures that the program has met specific standards and that the degree awarded will be recognized by employers, professional associations, and other academic institutions. When asking about accreditation, you want to make sure that the specific program has been accredited. Each program the nursing school offers should have their own accreditation. This means that the RN to BSN program should receive its own accreditation. Going to a school that does not have an accreditation or in the process of getting accreditation cannot guarantee the quality of the program. Additionally, credits earned at a non-accredited program may not be transferable to other programs or to other academic institutions.
Online BSN Program Options
Online RN to BSN programs are a great option for nurses with busy schedules. Online programs have the majority of courses in an online format in lieu of classes in a traditional classroom. These programs are often convenient and flexible, allowing you to attend courses in a online environment most often at your convince. Online programs do require the students to have some basic computer skills and knowledge. One benefit of online programs which students like is the availability of online resources; such as the school library or databases, computer assistance, Instructional Technology (IT) help. Studies find that an online learning environment is great for the student who is motivated, committed to learn from a distance and autonomous (1). Many online programs have online open-houses where you can register and attend online and ask questions. Virtual open house will give you a sense of an online academic environment and allow for you to ask any specific questions of that school. For a list of some of the top ranking RN to BSN programs search U.S. News Top RN to BSN Degrees online.
Hybrid RN to BSN
Hybrid RN to BSN programs are a combination of online course work and face to face classroom. Typically, you will find 50% of the time will be online and the other 50% of the time you will spend in a classroom. How an instructor divides this time up can often be up to the instructor. These types of programs have become more of the norm across many university and college settings. Hybrid format allows for students to engage with each other and the professor face-to-face while still allowing for some of the convinces of online programs.
Campus or Face-to-Face RN to BSN
Campus or face-to-face RN to BSN programs will have the majority of courses/classes held at a traditional classroom. This could be in a college, university or in some cases there are partnerships with healthcare institutions and the classroom is heal within the hospital. Although the majority of the courses/classes are face to face there is typically an online instruction component, requiring some engagement with online learning. Check to see if the college is offering an open-house or if you can schedule a conference call to go over some of your questions.
Accelerated BSN Nursing Programs
Most colleges and universities follow 12-13 week semesters; accelerated BSN programs may not follow a typical semester and have class over a six week period. Accelerated nursing programs are specifically geared toward students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in something else. These students have already proven their ability to manage time, study effectively and retain knowledge. In addition, they have already taken most foundational courses in a bachelor’s degree program. While there may be some science pre-requisites to complete, almost all courses in an accelerated nursing program are focused specifically on the skills needed to be an RN.
For Nursing Students Who Already Earned a Bachelor Degree
In a standard BSN program, students spend at least the first year, and sometimes the first two years, taking only foundational bachelor’s degree courses; nursing courses do not typically begin until the sophomore or junior year, and even then, they are often mixed in with other college courses. The student in an accelerated nursing program takes only the nursing courses, significantly shortening the time it takes to complete the degree. Most programs take between 11 and 18 months. A key component of any BSN degree is the clinical. Students in accelerated programs receive the same number of clinical hours as do their standard BSN counterparts. The benefits of these programs can be great, in that students can earn their degree in half the time it takes when compared to programs with traditional classes. The downfall is that the course work is not reduced, and students will be required to produce the same amount of homework, studying, and/or presentations in a shorter period of time. These programs are great for the individual that has the time, but for nurses juggling jobs, family and schooling, this can be very stressful.
Accelerated Nursing Programs for LPN and RN Degree Holders
Another type of accelerated nursing program is an LPN to BSN or RN to BSN degree. These programs are geared toward students who already have a nursing background, and thus some level of nursing education. The programs build on the practical experience students have gained from working in the field. The LPN to BSN program is slightly longer than the RN to BSN program, as there is often more material to cover. Both programs allow students to complete their foundational Bachelor’s degree courses, and the nursing courses are geared specifically toward the skills and experience students already have. These programs can usually be completed in 4 to 5 semesters, versus 8 semesters for a standard BSN degree. There are both benefits and challenges to enrolling in accelerated nursing programs. For those earning their second bachelor’s degree, the degree program usually runs continuously, with no breaks. This level of required focus can be exhausting. However, because the program moves so quickly, students will find themselves ready to enter the workforce in 18 months or less. For students in the LPN to BSN or RN to BSN programs, some material may seem redundant, depending on the student’s education and experience.
Accelerated Online Nursing Programs
For all types of accelerated nursing programs, one of the biggest challenges is fitting education into an already established work and family life. Juggling schedules to allow for commute time, classes, and studying can make the prospect seem overwhelming. Online education has come a long way in the past decade, and many students are finding this be the solution. Credible colleges and universities across the country, in including some Ivy League schools, are offering these accelerated online courses, ensuring students that they get the highest quality education, even online. Because the course material is presented in a variety of formats, and most of those formats can be accessed at any time for the duration of the course, students can create their own schedule of class and study time. Plus, they do not have to allow extra time and money to cover commuting and parking. Nursing students in online programs do not miss out on the multiple learning opportunities that are available to students in brick and mortar institutions; class forums, online office hours, discussion boards, and even video conferencing and chat programs allow students to learn in a variety of ways from a variety of source. Students also complete their clinicals locally, and are still required to complete the same number of clinical hours as their campus-based counterparts. Overall, choosing the right school may be easy or a challenge for some students to choose, however, researching schools will allow you to make an informed choice in selecting a program that will best suit your needs.
Preparing For an RN to BSN Program
Preparing for your BSN degree will make you a more successful student. Even if your are just starting your search for RN to BSN programs, now is a great time to begin preparing to reenter the classroom setting. For some students this may mean taking a computer course so that you are familiar with particular programs, which may be required in your school. Some computer programs you should be familiar with are Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel, or Google Sheets. Knowing how to use these programs before you start school will help you in the long run. For other students being prepared may mean getting the right supplies as well as the textbooks ahead of time so that you can prepare financially as well as academically.
RN Out of School for Past 20 or 30 Years
Some nurses wanting to earn a BSN degree have been out of school for the past 20 or 30 years. The academic environment has changed over the years. For some nurses, this can be a very nerve wracking process. One of the biggest challenges nurses may face is using a computer which is essential for success in many RN to BSN programs. Most colleges and universities have computer requirements that can be a challenge or even terrifying for some nurses who lack these skills. Trying to navigate a computer system at the same time as preparing for class can take away from the learning experience. If you lack computer skills, it will be in your best interest to prepare ahead of time. One great method in preparing and building confidence in your computer skills is to find out what computer program the school uses and ask your adviser if there is a computer introduction class course that you can take at the school. Many colleges and universities have libraries which have instructional courses in-person or online which can be a great resource during your academic program. Developing your computer skills ahead of time will allow you to focus more on your studies when you are taking a class.
RN to BSN Student Example:
A local hospital implemented a policy requiring all registered nurses to obtain their BSN within five years or they would be terminated. Blanch who is an expert charge nurse at the age of 59 and a diploma graduate was affected by this policy. Despite her 30+ years of service to the hospital there was no exception or grandfather clause for herself or any nurse. Not knowing if she could retire in 5 years, her only option was to go back to school or risk losing her current job which she had dedicated her career to and most likely end up working in a nursing home until retirement. One of her biggest learning curve was developing technology and computer skills. She lived a life as a minimalist, did not own a cell phone, nor cable and did not know the first thing about getting an email address. After multiple meetings and encouragement with her adviser, she bought her first computer, took some basic computer courses at her local library, got herself an email address and, successfully enrolled in her first RN to BSN class where she is succeeding and a role model for other veteran nurses.
Equipment Needed for RN to BSN Programs
The best piece of equipment for any nurse in an RN to BSN program is a desktop or laptop computer. In addition to the laptop or computer, it may be necessary to purchase software. Once you are officially enrolled in a program you should obtain to school ID, this will allow you student discounts when purchasing computers and software programs. Check with your school’s bookstore, which may have student discounts on software and some electronics. Expect classes where you will have to post your comments in a timely fashion to discussion boards which are often part of class participation and therefore graded on. Having access to your own computer or laptop will allow you to write and save and then submit when you are ready.
Typical BSN School Supplies
As with any college or university there is often a need for school supplies. In addition to the typical notebooks and pens expect to buy some textbooks. The biggest supply cost will most notably be your textbooks. Many times courses have been developed with specific text books. It is worth asking your adviser or the director of the RN to BSN program for a list of textbooks and if these textbooks will change. Knowing what textbooks are needed for the different classes will allow you to prepare financially and academically. Most colleges and universities have a bookstore and carry the specific text books required for the class. These books are typically new and often expensive. If there are a few weeks before the class starts it is worth searching the web for the specific textbook online. Many online companies such as Ebay, Half.com, Amazon or Barnes and Noble have textbooks for sale. The cost of the textbook is often related to the condition of the book. Many of the new or books in excellent condition will be more expensive than the textbooks in fair or used condition. There are benefits and risks of buying a used textbook. One of the benefits of having a used textbook is the cost which is often cheaper. Another benefit may be some of the notes and highlighted text which can be helpful. However, reading someone else’s notes or highlighted text may be distracting and take away from the learning process. These are things to consider when ordering a textbook online. Lastly, when ordering the textbook online, make sure that you have the correct edition as there can be many different editions of the required textbook.
Nursing School APA Writing Style for RN to BSN Programs
Most nursing schools have adapted the APA writing style as the format for all papers and homework. APA stands for the American Psychological Association. APA is a specific format with a strict set of rules for how papers are prepared, written and organized. APA is typically the format that will be used for all of your nursing courses. Having a basic understanding of what APA is will help you when passing in papers. Some college and university will have the APA manual as a required text for your program. This text can be expensive and very confusing to actually understand. There are many online resources available that can help with basic APA formatting. Most up-to-date versions of Word have a template for APA formatting. You can also try searching YouTube for specific APA videos or try Googling APA style and you will see many resources on this topic.
Taking RN to BSN Classes
IF you are unsure about the going back to school or even beginning to search for RN to BSN programs, ask your adviser if you can take a class as a guest student. Many programs will let you take one or two classes without officially registering or officially applying to the program. This is a great way to see if the school and program is the right one for you. This will also allow you to get a sense of what is required for the program, such as the specific computer program that will be used. You take a class make sure you take one that is an introductory class. The last thing you want to do is take a class where it is too difficult and you will not like the program because of the one class. Ask your advisor what is a good class that will be an introduction into the program.
CLEP Options for BSN Classes
One thing you want to check with your program is if there are opportunities for skipping specific RN to BSN classes. Some of the courses you will take may be one that you have already mastered the information. Take nutrition for an example. This may be a class that the college is requiring that you take, however you may find that you already know the content of the course. In some circumstances their options where you can skip the course. This usually requires that you pass a test on the information that would have been given in the course. You will find that this can save you lots of money because you will be taking a test in lieu of taking an entire course. Please be aware that taking a test may have a fee associated with it so you will want to find out about this as you are inquiring about skipping options.
Course Load Differences for Diploma or ADN Candidates
Typically, there are different course loads for nurses who graduated from a diploma school and nurses who graduated from an associate degree program. For the nurses who went to an associate degree program, credits earned from the specific classes will transfer into RN to BSN programs. Unfortunately, some of the classes that nurses have taken in a diploma program did not award college credits and therefore these classes will not transfer into the RN to BSN program. This typically means that the nurse who went to the diploma program will have to take more classes than the associate degree nurse. To find out exactly what your course load will be, your adviser to review your transcript and create an anticipated course load. Knowing this information will allow you to prepare for how many classes you need to take to earn your BSN.
How to Research BSN Program Topics Using Google Scholar
Google scholar is different than typical Google, Google Scholar searches for academic articles. In your RN to BSN program you will have to learn how to research academic articles. Most colleges and universities have libraries would specific databases where you can research academic articles. Google scholar is different in that anyone can use this database to research academic articles. The only downfall is that some of these articles may not be available even though they are a pair in their search. Regardless, this is a great place to start a search or to try a different database.
Using YouTube for BSN Degree Help
YouTube is a great tool to help your BSN degree. You will find almost any kind of video on YouTube. Go to YouTube and search just about any nursing topic and you will find loads of videos. This is great, especially if you are in an online program. Learning material strictly from a computer or text misses that interactive or visual piece. Watching a YouTube video on the topic will enhance the educational content as well as enable you to visually learn the information, which for some people is a key aspect and how they learn. If you’re stuck on instructional issues such as how to creating a PowerPoint, try searching YouTube and you will find that there are many videos on the step-by-step process in developing a PowerPoint. You will find that YouTube is a great source that will help you throughout your RN to BSN program.
How to Pay for RN-BSN Programs
When you are considering how to pay for nursing school, be sure to check all of your options, even ones that may not seem obvious. Here we list some common and not so common ways for you to pay for nursing school. The cost of RN-BSN programs can vary from school to school. Most of the classes typically cost according to their credit hours. If a school charges $300.00 per credit and most class are either 3 or 4 credits, then each class will cost between $900.00 and $1,200.00 dollars. The school may also have an additional fee when applying to the school such as an application fee. There may also be other fees associated with the school for other school related activities or resources. When searching for schools to determine the cost research and ask about any additional cost associated with the application process or other fees. To get an accurate estimation of the total cost of the program you should calculate the total cost of the program, including any fees, books, parking fees, computer hardware and software, which you may need to purchase.
Transfer All Class Credits Earned Over the Years
Most schools will accept a certain amount of college credits that will be accepted as transfer credits and applied toward the program. There may be certain criteria that need to be met, such as a specific grade received or specific class taken within a certain period of time. It is worth thinking about all classes you may have taken over the years and request the transcript to be sent. This may save you in the end several hundreds of dollars and time. For each class that is transferred and accepted is one less class you will need to pay for and take. Even if you do not think that a class will transfer it is worth researching. In some cases classes taken as an elective or for a different degree can transfer in as an elective. Additionally, some schools will accept close transfers, so if a school requires a class in world culture as a requirement and you took a class the meets the requirement of world culture, then that can transfer in. Additionally, some nurses have taken advance credentialing for specific nursing skills at a college, as long as you receive college credit for the course then there should credits earned that could be transferred in. It is helpful to think about all college classes and request transcripts and set up a meeting with the school academic adviser to see what credits can and cannot be transferred into the program.
How to Pay for Nursing School with Scholarships
One great way to help with the cost of school is applying for scholarships. Scholarships are monies which are awarded to students and most often do not require any commitment or repayment of the funds back. In some cases, scholarships can be competitive, so it is important to read all the requirements of the scholarship and make sure that you follow the instructions and include any required documents and recommendations. There are many different scholarships available, check with your professional nursing organization, nursing union, local community scholarships, and employer if they have scholarships available.
- American Association of College of Nursing scholarship resources: http://www.aacn.nche.edu/students/financial-aid#undergraduate
- Army Nurse Corps Association Scholarship Program: http://e-anca.org/Scholarships
- Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association: http://www.nsna.org/FoundationScholarships/FNSNAScholarships/UndergraduateScholarship.aspx
- Indian Health Service (IHS) Scholarship Program: http://www.ihs.gov/scholarship/index.cfm
Repayment of RN or BSN Loans
Another option to consider is applying for a repayment loan. A repayment loan is a program in which money is given to the student or the school to help pay for the education and in return the students may have to work for a certain amount of years in a certain location. One popular repayment loan is the HRSA Health Resources and Services Administration Nurse Corps Scholarship program. This federal program awards money to students in return for services of employment in hospitals or communities where there are nursing shortages or under-served populations. Typically, more money is awarded when you agree to work more years of service. Many hospitals may also have their own repayment loan. Checking with your local hospitals and if they do have a repayment loan find out the specific details, you may be required to work for that particular hospital for a set period of time.
- HRSA Health Resources and Services Administration, NURSE Corps Scholarship Program: http://www.hrsa.gov/loanscholarships/scholarships/nursing/
How to Pay for Nursing School with Tuition Reimbursement
Work tuition reimbursements are programs developed by employers to help their employee pay for school. The employer determines the amount of funding available. Each employee will have specific criteria that need to be met to be eligible for tuition reimbursement. Funding amount may depend on your employment status, such as part-time or full-time. You may be required to obtain a certain grade to be eligible for reimbursement and maintain your employment with the hospital for a set period of time.
FAFSA Overview for BSN Programs
FASA stand for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. There are different types of federal financial aid such as grants and loans which you may be eligible for. Your FAFSA will determine which types of federal financial aid may be available to you so it is important to complete your FAFSA. The FAFSA may be filed online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.
FAFSA and Student Aid Deadlines for BSN Students
Each state has its own deadline date for completing the FAFSA. You can check the deadlines at: https://fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm. It is important to check your states deadline date and make sure that you fill out the application before that date. Applications filed after the deadline date may not be processed and then you may not be eligible for federal grants and loans. If you have questions about the form you can also check with your school’s financial aid officer and they often c program.
Your First Day on the Job After Your RN Degree
After graduating from your RN program, passing the NCLEX, job hunting, and negotiating a salary – you’re finally about to start your first day on the job! Becoming an RN isn’t easy. This year, only 71% of NCLEX candidates passed their exam. If you’ve gotten this far we sincerely congratulate you. Try not to focus on worrying about your first day, and instead celebrate your achievements so far! After that, you can follow some of these steps to get a head start at your new job. Preparing for your first day on the job as an RN is pretty straightforward. You will need to…
- Study all of the information that they sent you on the position. Memorize all of the important parts so that you are entirely sure of what you will be doing for your orientation.
- Schedule any physical exams or drug tests that they require.
- Purchase any scrubs, stethoscopes, or shoes that you need to be comfortable and in uniform. Some hospitals require that your scrubs be a certain color – so you may not be able to wear the ones you used in your LPN to RN program.
- Purchase compression socks to help your feet during the long shifts ahead.
- Fill a folder with information to take on your first day. This includes orientation information, any usernames or passwords, and any documents they asked you to bring.
After you’ve done all of this, you will be completely prepared for your first day on the job!
All About an RN Job Orientation
Nursing job orientations can last anywhere from a couple weeks to 7 or 8 months. The length of a nursing job orientation depends on where you work. During an orientation, you will be assigned a preceptor or mentor to guide you through the process. Some programs assign you to only one preceptor/mentor, and others give you several. They will be responsible for teaching you directly, and guide you through the orientation process. The orientation will cover a lot of information in a short amount of time, so it’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed. You will go over your job benefits, facility procedures, the computer system, incident reporting, and more. You may think that the length of your orientation is enough to learn all of this. For most new nurses, this is not the case. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources out there to help. You can use these websites and articles to get started…
- 50 Things New Nurses Need to Know About Orientation is a great resource at AllNurses written by an experienced RN.
- NurseTogether wrote a similar resource with 10 tips on being successful during a new nurse orientation.
- This article by a nurse at the Lippincott NursingCenter really showcases the struggles and feelings of a new nurse.
How to Renew Your RN License
Immediately after getting your RN license, the renewal clock starts ticking down. Eventually, your time will be up and you will need to renew your license. The period of time you have before you need to renew your nursing license depends entirely on the state you are licensed in. You will need to check with your state’s board of nursing to find this information. Usually, you can renew your license online with your state’s board of nursing website. Every state’s renewal policies are different, but most of them require three things…
- That you have no delinquent student loans.
- That you’ve completed your Continuing Nurse Education credits.
- That your license is not currently in delinquent or inactive status.
If you fit all of these criteria, it’s very likely that you can simply submit an online renewal and pay the fee right from the comfort of home.
The Basics of Continuing Nurse Education (CNE)
As mentioned above, to renew your RN license you will usually need to complete continuing education requirements. Sometimes the hospital you work for will also legally be required to have you take continuing education depending on your position. These credits can be gained in one of two ways…
- Workplace benefits will sometimes cover continuing education for you. They may train you themselves or instead reimburse you.
- You can take continuing education courses online.
There are many websites that offer continuing nurse education courses. By far, the best website to get your continuing education with is at Nurse.com.
- U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015), 29-1141 Registered Nurses, Occupational Employment Statistics. Retrieved November 1, 2015, from http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm
- The American Nurses Credentialing Center (2015), Magnet Recognition Program® Overview, American Nurses Credentialing Center, Retrieved November 1, 2015, from http://www.nursecredentialing.org/Magnet/ProgramOverview.
- Ali, N. S., Hodson-Carlton, K., & Ryan, M. (2004). Students’ perceptions of online learning: Implications for teaching. Nurse Educator, 29(3), 111-115.
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