Why an RN-to-BSN With No Prerequisites Can Hurt Your Nursing Career

Why an RN-to-BSN With No Pre Reqs Can Hurt Your Career

Many nurses choose to start their careers as an RN with an ADN (associate’s degree in nursing) because it is a faster and cheaper way to get registered as a nurse. As a registered nurse, you have the option to advance your career with an ADN-to-BSN bridge program (also known as an RN-to-BSN). Most nursing programs will require prerequisites to make sure you receive the full benefit of the BSN program.

What Are Nursing Prerequisites and Do They Really Matter?

Prereqs are classes that you need to take before you take higher-level classes.

Every program and institution will have different prerequisites and different appreciations for other programs. A class that has a prereq may signify how difficult the class is — especially if you have a good idea of what those prerequisite classes expect. Most course requirements are based directly on your academic record and profile. Some classes require a certain level of a high school class, but others may require first-year college-level classes. When you take classes to move from an ADN to a BSN, you will find that there are requirements before you begin the BSN. This ensures you are equipped for more intense coursework.

If you were to sign up for a traditional baccalaureate program, you would need a certain level of math, biology, English, and other prerequisites before starting. Typically, the course registration list will clarify what prereqs exist for a given glass. This ensures you are fully prepared for your degree’s required courses.

Why Are Nursing Prerequisites Important?

The BSN path to nursing will always have prereqs because of the nature of the classes. Students can explore topics in-depth since they already have the basic building blocks in the sciences and general education needed.

When it comes to the ADN-to-BSN program, your prereqs will be taken in the first year or so of a traditional nursing program. If you have not taken introductory nursing, science, and general education classes, then they must be done before the bridge program can truly be started.

Knowing which prerequisites will count toward your chosen bridge program at a specific college or university will factor into the length and cost of the program. If the college or university doesn’t want to apply certain credits to the RN-to-BSN program, then you may want to look into other programs at other schools. Different schools will have different requirements and some schools will “play nice” with competing programs better than others.

If a school feels that another school does not meet the criteria or demand equal to its own program, some credits may not transfer. If you earned your ADN from a good community college program or online nursing school, then the college offering the BSN bridge program will likely be able to convert many credits over to count toward the BSN degree program.

What Does It Take to Get Into a Good RN-to-BSN Program?

It can be hard to get into a traditional nursing school — especially a renowned program from a good college or university. Some professionals find it is easier to get their foot in the door with an ADN and RN license before applying to a BSN program. Most nursing program entry requirements will include:

  • Minimum SAT or ACT scores
  • Minimum GPA
  • Three years of math (including algebra II and geometry)
  • Three years of science (including chemistry and biology)
  • Four years of English classes
  • Two years of foreign language
  • Proof of a current RN license

Since the BSN bridge program is designed to meet working nurses in the field and builds on the abilities and knowledge they already have, nursing students cannot start this program without a current license as a registered nurse. Your status as a registered nurse will serve as proof that you already have the experience and understanding that comes with that profession.

If you have your nursing license but have not yet had a chance to actually work in the field, you can still register for a bridge program. Some programs will have opportunities to gain experience beyond the required clinicals for those nurses that haven’t worked in the field.

Do I Really Need Prereq GE Classes for a Bridge BSN Program?

What about the “non-nursing” classes?

Common GE (general education) courses that are typically considered prereqs include math, English, foreign language, human anatomy, human physiology, pathophysiology, communications, and more. Many schools will require you to earn a minimum grade to count the classes as transferable. While you might technically pass a class with anything above a D, a college or university bridge BSN program could decide to only count credits where you earned grades higher than a C or B.

How Long Does an RN-to-BSN Program Take?

Most colleges will have a maximum number of transferable classes as well. You won’t be able to enter the program and be finished or close to finished. However, many reputable programs will allow you to count more than half of the required program credits if your past degree and experience are applicable.

The length of the course will vary based on the school you choose and how that school is willing to apply credits toward their program requirements. Some schools will let you finish in about 18 months or three semesters. If you must take more prerequisites or go at a slower-than-full-time pace, it could take two to three years or more.

Can I Find an RN-to-BSN Program Without Prerequisites?

If you are joining a program that has no requirements for previous educational standards, you may need to evaluate the program carefully. Most colleges try to only require classes that form a basic understanding required for a nurse. If you are joining a BSN program mid-stream (starting as a registered nurse), you should be expected to know the basics of nursing. You are taking a shortcut to a BSN, so the ADN you hold should meet a certain standard to be fully counted.

While you might wonder why a class like algebra is relevant to your nursing degree, you need the math class to move on to statistics. And you need statistics to better understand research and improve nursing practices. This is an example of two common prereqs that nearly every nursing school will require an ADN-to-BSN program. Many classes become building blocks for other important classes, and the BSN-prepared nurse should be well-qualified for a career in healthcare.

There will be many aspects of the degree that do not require a specific class, only a specific class type. These are called electives. You can choose electives in the arts, humanities, social sciences, history, and more. This gives you flex room to pursue interesting classes that support the direction of your career.

The BSN degree itself is a building block that a nurse could use to get a Master of Science in Nursing degree and open even more doors for a career as a nurse. If you are ready to get your BSN, check out the best online nursing schools with RN-to-BSN bridge programs!

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