What is the difference between a Registered Nurse (RN)
and a Bachelors in Nursing (BSN) degree? The first difference is that
the bachelors in nursing program requires 2 more years of training. The
bachelor of nursing degree is considered the degree for entry into
professional nursing. Training for the BSN degree generally includes
more theory, leadership skill training, and community based training.
Overall it prepares the nurse for a much broader role.
The 4 year BSN degree is becoming more and more common as an entry into nursing. It is often the minimum level of education required for many higher level positions such as nurse educators and managers. A BSN degree offers more flexibility in your choice of nursing career. Upon completion of the BSN program you must write the NCLEX exam to become a registered nurse.
Although it is becoming a requirement for many higher positions that does not mean it is not realistic to look at an RN program then return for your BSN. There are many RN to BSN programs available, including some fast track programs. This option allows you to complete the 2 year RN program then you are able to work and earn an income while working on your BSN. Many of these programs are offered online as well, which allows more flexibility due to the various shifts that we work as nurses. In this case the NCLEX-RN is written when you complete the RN program. There is not a separate exam for the BSN degree at this time.
So which is the right path for you? Well, that all depends on you. If you are young and focused you may want to take the 4 year program right from the start. If you want to get out into the work force you may want the 2 year RN program first so you can earn money as you take the remainder of the degree program. There really is no difference in the end, but I do think that experience as an RN does count for something. Of course, that means starting work earlier equals more years of experience and more real life nursing training.
Another great thing to keep in mind.. many hospitals and other nurse employers offer tuition assistance. If you are a working RN and are looking at taking an RN to BSN program, check with your human resource benefit staff regarding tuition assistance. Many will pay at least 1000/ year, often even more. College is expensive but if you can be working, have your employer pay part of your tuition and maybe qualify for some scholarships, it may be less than you would expect. Online classes do cost more, but you have to weigh the convenience and flexibility and the cost and decide what is the best way for you to achieve your nursing career goals.
Everyone has an idea of what kind of nursing they are interested in, but I am proof that things change. I have made several changes throughout my career and I love what I do. My current role is quite different that my original nursing career goals but that is the flexibility that the nursing profession offers. The BSN degree adds even more flexibility. You can change areas often or stay in the same area of nursing for your entire career, the choice is completely yours!