Finding the Right BSN Program

Pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the first step towards a registered nurse furthering his or her education within the field. Finding the right BSN program involves meeting certain criteria for admissions and having a valid nursing license, which varies depending on location and the requirements of individual colleges. Receiving a BSN not only opens the doors to higher-paying job opportunities (hospitals tend to favor applicants with degrees over those with just a diploma), but also allows nurses to pursue more advanced degrees in the future.

Education Prerequisites

Depending on the chosen degree program, getting a BSN usually takes four years to complete. For example, it takes an average time of between 18 months to four years for a registered nurse with an associate degree to complete a BSN program.

Applicants for a BSN program typically complete some form of prior education, such as holding an associate degree in nursing or having a qualified course of study under his or her belt. Community colleges provide cost-effective education and training for students with an interest in pursuing a BSN.

Since math and science play an important role throughout a BSN program, students should prepare for a future statistics or biostatistics course by reaching a high-school level of intermediate algebra beforehand. Some nursing schools require applicants to take an introductory physics class or demonstrate a high school equivalent. In addition to meeting prior educational requirements, BSN applicants generally possess a current and valid nursing license.

Program Coursework

A BSN combines classroom (or online) learning with hands-on training called ‘clinicals,’ where students gain a first-hand experience on how it feels to work with patients within a medical setting. Typical coursework for a BSN student includes learning an extensive overview of the history and current state of the nursing profession; proper nursing procedures that address acute and chronic conditions; leadership and management skills; ethics and legal approaches related to patient care; pre- and post-surgical care; family-centered care; and how to respect social, cultural or religious attitudes toward health and wellness.

All BSN programs require at least two semesters of anatomy and/or physiology, which usually involve labs. Students also take biology and chemistry classes, such as microbiology and biochemistry.

BSN students are also most likely expected to perform an externship or gain experience in a medical setting to fulfill requirements to receive a registered nurse license. The length of field experience usually depends on previous experience as a licensed practical nurse, the state, and nature of an externship.

Factors to Consider

Prospective students must recognize that no two BSN programs are exactly the same or offer the same course of study. In addition to the time commitment a nurse agrees to, prospective students must address the following issues and factors to find the right BSN program that fits his or her needs:

  • Become familiar with the mission and philosophy of the school
  • Review state-related requirements for nursing programs
  • Tuition fees and the availability of financial aid
  • Required competency tests
  • Number of credits required to complete program

Options for Continuing Education

By pursuing a BSN, students come one step closer to enhancing his or her salary potential, expanding skills and boosting job security. However, continuing a nursing education doesn’t end with a BSN and a nurse may consider applying to a MSN, Ph.D. or DNP program in the future.

To get started exploring the different kinds of BSN programs available to prospective students, consider the following schools and programs: