Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
Nurses play a significant role in the healthcare industry, communicating between patients and doctors, helping the sick regain their strength, administering medicine and supervising nurses’ aides. They make up the biggest healthcare occupation in the United States. With such job duties, it comes as no surprise that most nurses feel like they are making this world a better place.
Some, if not most, bachelor of nursing degree programs requires students to have completed some relevant prior qualification such as an associate degree or a diploma in nursing. Others require prospective students to have completed prerequisite science and liberal arts courses.
What are BSN, ADN, RN and MSN?
The following are perhaps the most used terminology in the field of nursing.
- An ADN stands for an associate’s degree in nursing.
- A registered nurse (RN) is someone who has earned either an ADN or a bachelor’s degree in nursing and passed the NCLEX-RN examination.
- A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree holder can go on to earn the Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.
Course Work for a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
To prepare yourself for the coursework associated with the BSN, you are advised to start early. At the high school level, make sure you take relevant courses in anatomy, biology and chemistry. This will help you create a strong base of medical knowledge that you can build on during the BSN studies.
As for the coursework, it will be divided into core courses, technology-focused courses and clinical experiences. Core courses will expose you to the basics of nursing, with a mix of science courses including anatomy, biology, sociology, psychology and chemistry. You will also be taught management courses in order to help you effectively manage and communicate with other nurses and doctors.
Technology-focused courses will keep you updated with the constantly changing technologies in the medical world. Courses such as nurse informatics, healthcare delivery systems, and data management prepare students to operate in an increasingly digital environment.
Clinical experiences are medical internships or volunteer programs for students where they are required to put in clinical hours at a hospital or a medical facility in order to gather hands-on skills.
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
The online bachelor’s degree nursing option allows students to participate in online discussions and exercise their clinical knowledge in virtual classrooms. Advanced technology is utilized to provide students with the ideal online education experience. However, due to the nature of the field, nursing degrees cannot be offered 100% online and students will be required to attend on-campus lab work.
Careers in Nursing
A BSN degree opens up a wide variety of careers and provides a strong earning potential. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2012 median pay for registered nurses was $65,470 and the job growth was 19%, which is significantly faster than all other occupations.
Other careers that BSN graduates can go for include working as medical case managers, charge nurses, nurse case managers, registered nurse supervisors, nursing directors and nursing managers.
The potential employers for most nursing degree graduates are not just hospitals. With this degree, you can also work in nursing and resident care facilities, doctor’s offices, government health organizations, home healthcare services, ambulatory care centers, schools and community centers and even the military.
RNs perform the following duties:
- Perform physical exams and collect health histories
- Administer health counseling and education
- Provide medication, injury care, and recovery options to patients
- Analyze and interpret patient information and aide the decision making process accordingly
- Coordinate the healthcare activities relevant to the patients, across departments and with a wide array of healthcare professionals
- Document and record information regarding patients in written or electronic form
Degree requirements for particular jobs depend on the employers you are applying to work for. Some employers might require all nurses to have a four-year nursing degree. Your educational qualifications might help you advance into management level positions, which tend to pay higher.
Nurses who wish to advance their careers can also go for a master of science in nursing degree programs. This option is available to all nurses who hold a bachelor’s degree, or those who have earned RN credentials. Getting an MSN degree can help you advance into careers such as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists or clinical nurse specialists.
Professional Associations for a Nurse
If you do not wish to work in a typical hospital environment, you might have the option of joining a professional association. For nurses, the major option in this regard is the American Nurses Association. Other organizations such as the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses may offer certifications for career advancement.