Health care has grown more complex and demanding.

As proof of that, in 2010, the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Health and Medicine) issued a formal recommendation that 80% of all nurses have bachelor’s degrees by 2020.

Why is that so important, and what effect will getting a BSN have on a nurse’s career? Bridget Roberts, DNP, faculty chair for Capella University’s RN-to-BSN program, provides some answers.

Addressing Gaps in Nursing Practice

Part of the reason the National Academy recommended the move to higher education was to address gaps in RN training. As health care has changed, what a nurse needs to know is changing and expanding.

“The BSN brings more depth and breadth of health care knowledge and skills to the nurse, who then takes those back to their workplace,” says Roberts. “They’ll learn about community health, management and leadership, patient education, clinical decision-making, and communication skills. The degree really prepares nurses to fill whatever gaps exists in their background and rise to new challenges.”

Some of those new challenges include addressing an aging population. “We need nurses to promote preventive care and to play a role in keeping the elderly healthy, so they don’t need to go to the hospital,” Roberts explains. “That’s going to take education.”

More Career Opportunities

“The main reason to enter a BSN program is to expand career opportunities,” Roberts says. “This is important for nurses who are interested in leadership and management roles, like team leader or clinical unit manager. It’s also necessary for an RN who wants to expand their practice out of health care facilities and into roles such as school nurse, primary care nurse, or community health nurse.”

Roberts points out that an RN who completes a BSN will have the skills to look for many new career possibilities as well. “The career choices are almost endless,” she says. “They can work in a hospital, in a primary care facility, home health and community settings, and even become entrepreneurs.”  And as hospitals move toward that 2020 goal of having 80% of their nursing staffs with bachelor’s, it won’t just be advisable, but almost necessary.

Roberts also notes that a BSN is still valuable for RNs who don’t plan an immediate career change. “Even if they’re not changing position, they can take the learned skills and apply them to their current practice, as well as share them with their peers,” she says. “There is a lot of personal growth involved in getting a BSN. These nurses learn so much about themselves, and they’re very proud of it. It’s a badge of honor.”

Hear from Real Students about FlexPath | A Modern Learning Format from Capella

Learn more about Capella’s online RN-to-BSN program, available in GuidedPath and FlexPath learning formats.

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