A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree can be a crucial stepping stone to a successful nursing career. If you earn one, there will be a wider range of career opportunities available to you.
After all, BSN nurses are qualified to perform more responsibilities than other nurses. That’s because they have gained new leadership skills in health care and case management through the BSN program.
While professional experience may be invaluable to nurses, higher education is also an important factor for professional development. A BSN degree is worth pursuing if you are interested in achieving leadership roles in the nursing industry.
So what exactly is the process that you must go through to become a BSN nurse? If you are determined to work toward getting a BSN degree, you should complete the five steps listed below.
1. Gain a High School or GED Diploma
A basic requirement for enrolling in a BSN program is a high school diploma or GED. Secondary education is an important foundation that will prepare you to achieve more advanced levels of knowledge through a BSN program, especially in Science, Math, and other subjects that are applicable to the healthcare profession.
A high school education will also help you develop written, verbal, and comprehension skills in the English language, which you will need in your journey as a nursing student.
Although the specific qualifications for different nursing colleges may vary, here are examples of common admission requirements:
- Above-average cumulative GPA
- Above-average GPA in science subjects
- Coursework and education in science branches – Some examples of science branches are biology, anatomy, chemistry, and physiology.
2. Choose an Accredited BSN Program
Find a BSN program that will help you reach your professional goals as an aspiring BSN nurse. Here are essential criteria that you should consider when selecting a BSN program:
Before anything else, make sure that the educational institution and the BSN program you are interested in meets the proper accreditation requirements, both on a national and state level. This is crucial because your BSN educational credentials at the right college or university will determine your eligibility for job opportunities in the nursing industry after you graduate.
Look for a BSN program that offers all the fundamental subjects in general nursing. While the particular courses and classes may differ with each nursing school, typical subjects that most colleges offer are nurse leadership, nursing theory, medical and surgical care, health promotion, community health, family planning, adult care, pediatric care, mental health, home health care, management, and more. It will also be an extra advantage if the program offers clinical training that will prepare you for your future nursing specialty.
Choose the type of nursing education that suits your personal preference, lifestyle, and schedule. If you are leaning towards a traditional education, you may attend a nursing college that offers physical classes that allow real-life interaction with professors and schoolmates. If you prefer a more modern approach to education, you can enroll in an online university that offers virtual nursing programs.
Online education is also a viable alternative for you if your work schedule or personal responsibilities make it impossible for you to attend classes in person.
On a realistic note, be sure that the tuition, fees, and miscellaneous expenses required for the BSN program match your budget. In case you need financial aid, you may apply for educational scholarships, fellowships, and grants for nursing students. Another option you may consider is to apply for a student loan.
3. Complete an Accredited BSN Program
Enroll in the accredited BSN program of your choice. Complete all the requirements so you can earn a BSN degree and start your nursing career:
Most programs typically take four years to complete if you plan to study on a full-time basis, although other factors could also affect the total length of your educational period. Take all the classes in your curriculum, including nursing classes and general education classes, to complete the necessary educational units.
Clinical Training Hours
Meet all the clinical hour requirements for the BSN program. While every program calls for a specific number of hours, the common ratio is three clinical hours for every single hour of classroom instruction.
4. Take the NCLEX-RN Exam
Finally, you must apply for an RN license, in case you do not have one yet. Afterward, you should take the National Council Licensure Examination. More popularly known as the NCLEX exam, this standardized test is used by state regulatory boards to check if a candidate is qualified to be licensed as a nurse. There’s also the NCLEX-PN, which is meant for potential Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs).
5. Take Additional Steps to Prepare for a BSN Nursing Career
Although you can become a BSN nurse by fulfilling the basic requirements, a potential nurse leader like you can go the extra mile via additional venues for professional development in the healthcare field:
Nursing Organization Membership
Joining nursing associations is an excellent way for you to learn from mentors and colleagues in the nursing industry. Most organizations have membership options for nursing students, which typically have lower rates than regular memberships for nurses. There are many types of nursing organizations so it’s very likely that you can find one that is especially dedicated to the nursing specialty you are interested in.
Volunteer work is not always mandatory, but it can give you an edge through additional hands-on experience with patients. You may choose to serve as a volunteer at local hospitals, healthcare facilities, non-profit organizations, and other settings where you can develop your practical and intellectual skills as a nurse.
Read, Watch, and Learn
Boost your nursing knowledge by reading informative books and watching instructional videos. Stay updated on the latest news and developments in the nursing world by reading medical journals. You may visit your local library or you may go online to access educational materials. There is a lot of useful information online; just make sure that the sources you select are credible.
Admittedly, it will take a significant amount of time and effort for you to earn a BSN degree. However, the potential advantages that a BSN degree can add to your nursing career — like a possible increase in job opportunities, higher compensation, and more leadership responsibilities — are certainly just as significant to make your effort and time worth it.