Why Go From ADN to BSN?

The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) — now known as the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) — recommends the nursing profession increase the percentage of nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to 80% by 2020. Some states like New York require RNs to obtain a BSN within 10 years from receiving their initial license. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) supports the IOM’s “Future of Nursing” report, and strongly believes that the BSN should become the minimum educational requirement for registered nurses (RNs).

It’s clear why — patient outcomes, safety, and quality of care improve with BSN nurses, leading to lower patient mortality rates, fewer medical errors and higher patient satisfaction. Healthcare is complex, and nurses must progress from skill-based, technical competencies to a holistic understanding of patient care.

So, what does this mean for you if you have your Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)? It means you need to look into obtaining a BSN to distinguish yourself.

What Are 3 Benefits of a BSN?

There is a wide range of benefits to earning a BSN. Patients enjoy better outcomes, and health systems enjoy less turnover with BSN nurses, for example. But what are the benefits for the nurses themselves? Here are just three of the many benefits of earning a BSN.

1. Better Employment Opportunities: A BSN degree opens doors to employment opportunities that are unavailable to ADN-prepared nurses. Some employers, like Magnet hospitals or children’s hospitals often only hire RNs with BSNs. A BSN program prepares you to assume roles such as charge nurse, supervisor/manager and leadership positions. Advancement opportunities may favor BSNs and some employers even require a BSN to advance at all; the Veteran’s Administration (VA) requires RNs to have a BSN to even be considered for advancement.

Most non-traditional roles, such as positions in nursing education, the pharmaceutical industry, case management or research usually require a BSN. Additionally, most specialty nursing roles (pediatrics, oncology, gynecology, psychiatry, etc.) will either require or highly prefer a BSN. With only an ADN or nursing diploma, you may be very limited in your career options. It is difficult to advance beyond basic clinical care without a BSN.

2. Better Patient Care: ADN programs prepare you for the requirements of clinical care as a nurse. BSN programs include more theoretical background and information on system improvement, research, evidence-based practice as well as external factors that may impact the health of the patient. This adds to your current nursing knowledge, improving patient care. In addition, a BSN program offers you valuable professional skills like communication, team work, critical thinking and leadership. Employers value these skills for their contribution to a smooth operation, allowing more time for patient care.

3. Better Pay: RNs with a BSN can earn more than those with an ADN — about $14,000 more per year, according to PayScale. One reason for this is that BSNs often hold higher positions, resulting in a bigger paycheck. However, even within entry-level positions, RNs with a BSN can earn more than RNs with ADNs.

Although both ADN and BSN nurses practice as RNs, there are clear advantages for BSNs. While a BSN is not mandatory, it is clear that more organizations are working to raise their percentage of BSN-educated nurses, and more states could soon mandate a BSN. Some employers may reimburse you for all or some of your education costs, so be sure to check if this benefit is available where you work.

Though going back to school may be daunting for some, it’s important to remember that online RN to BSN programs are an affordable and convenient way for working nurses to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Learn more about the University of Southern Indiana’s online RN to BSN program.


Institute of Medicine: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health

Nurse.org: New York’s ‘BSN in 10’ Law and the Push for 80% of Nurses to Hold BSN by 2020

AACN: Academic Progression in Nursing: Moving Together Toward a Highly Educated Nursing Workforce

NCBI: Patient Safety Communication Among Differently Educated Nurses: Converging and Diverging Meaning Systems

Nursing2019: Magnet Hospitals Are Attracted to the BSN But What’s in It for Nurses

Nurse Journal: Top 9 Advantages of a BSN Degree

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses

PayScale: Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) Degree

PayScale: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree

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