U.S. News and World Report listed registered nurse as one of the top 50 careers for 2010. Nursing has flourished during the recession compared to most other occupations. And job growth is expected to be much faster than average in the years to come — with 582,000 new R.N. jobs expected to be added between 2008 and 2018, a growth rate of more than 22 percent.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) maintains the position that a BSN degree should be the minimum educational requirement for professional nursing practice. While graduates can begin practice as an RN with an associate degree or hospital-based diploma, the BSN degree is essential for nurses seeking to perform at the case-manager or supervisory level or move across employment. In recent years, the BSN graduate has become the nurse preferred to practice in all health care settings and preferred by many employers who use the words “BSN preferred” more frequently in classified ads for registered nurses nationwide.
With a growing awareness about the positive outcomes associated with advancing to higher levels of education and increasing encouragement from employers who provide tuition support for RN-to-BSN programs, more and more nurses are returning to school to complete a BSN degree. In order to meet the demand for BSN completion, nursing programs have responded by offering curriculum that is delivered in the online setting, the traditional classroom setting, or by using combined methods. Online learning has provided the RN student, who is usually employed and juggling multiple roles, with greater accessibility to attend class at times of the day that meet their needs.
In the typical RN-to-BSN curriculum, the nurse is prepared for a broader role that includes enhancing professional communication, theoretical perspectives, community and population-based nursing care, and leadership. The senior practicum hours are often spent working with nurse-preceptors in acute care settings as well as in community-based settings where the nurse can build on previous knowledge and enhance their effectiveness across the continuum of care. Many programs incorporate professional projects designed to meet the needs of the clinical agency from an evidence-based perspective while other activities include projects related to nursing leadership, health promotion, disease prevention, and the care of vulnerable populations. Overall, the BSN enhances nurses’ concepts of the profession and provides a wider range of experiences, allowing them to better adapt to an ever-changing health care environment.
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