Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) is becoming a requirement across the field of healthcare. It’s beneficial for employers: it helps hospitals earn the Magnet Recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which is an important indicator of quality care. It’s also a value-add for your career: it can open the door up to interesting and rewarding job opportunities.Whether you’re just starting to consider R.N. to B.S.N. programs or you’ve been enrolled for a few terms, here are a collection of tips that can help you succeed.
1. Find the Right Program for You
When selecting an R.N. to B.S.N. program, there is a mix of both practical and personal qualities that you should seek out. The practical traits, such as transfer credits and accreditation, will help you find a program that will give you a positive academic experience. Meanwhile, the personal qualities, like flexibility and location, will complement your lifestyle and schedule in a way that will work for you. Here are a few areas to consider in your search:
To avoid taking pre-requisites or general education requirements that overlap with courses you’ve taken in the past, you’ll want to identify a college that will maximize your credits in transfer. Not all nursing programs are the same: one college will transfer in more of your credits than another. In fact, about 67% lose all or some of their credits when they transfer, according to data analyzed by the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (table 6). This makes finding the right program especially important in saving time and money when completing your degree.
Nursing Licensure Requirements by State
Another critical factor to consider for those pursuing a B.S.N. online is the Nursing Licensure Requirements in your state. Each U.S. state features laws that govern whether or not an out-of-state college can offer online programs to its residents. If you plan to complete your degree with an out-of-state college, ensure that the program is available to residents in your state before applying.
To ensure that your R.N. to B.S.N. program is strong academically, search for regionally accredited nursing programs that are recognized by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accreditation.
Lifestyle & Schedule
After you've considered your search from a purely practical perspective, go one level deeper to align your personal preferences and priorities to your R.N. to B.S.N. program. If you work and have a family, as well as other commitments, you may seek out colleges with flexible course options such as online classes or hybrids. If sticking to a budget is a top priority, find options that have the lowest cost per credit. If you value face-to-face interactions, either in your courses or through advising or tutoring, find a campus with a location that’s close to home.
2. Build Relationships
For some nurses, earning a B.S.N. is a requirement—not necessarily a choice. However, your experience as a student will present rewarding opportunities to connect with other healthcare providers. Through the process, you’ll encounter staff, faculty, and peers in your class that help you gain new perspectives and grow as a nursing professional.
Because R.N. to B.S.N. programs are built to complement your previous nursing education, such as a diploma programs or Associate Degrees in Nursing, you will rely on the expertise of the admissions staff and your advisor to help you maximize your transfer credits and select the proper courses. Strong communication with these individuals will help set you up for success.
The faculty of R.N. to B.S.N. programs have experience in diverse areas of nursing, so they can help relate some of the concepts you learn in your classes to real-life situations you’ll encounter at work. From evidence-based practices to nursing care for an aging population, you’ll be able to learn new concepts that are relevant to the work you do every day.
Students in R.N. to B.S.N. programs have a diverse range of nursing backgrounds. Nurses with decades of experience learn alongside those who have just recently passed their NCLEX exam. In the online classroom, this range of experience comes together in a way where students learn from each other, creating a supportive community-based environment.
3. Use Tuition Assistance from Your Employer
More than 50% of employers offer undergraduate tuition assistance, including many healthcare facilities. Begin by asking Human Resources about the particulars of this benefit and see how it can be applied to your tuition and fees. To learn more about tuition assistance, read Tuition Reimbursement 101: Five Things to Know.
4. Remember: It’s Not a Race
One great benefit of R.N. to B.S.N. programs is that they can be finished quickly. You may feel compelled to take a heavy course load and finish quickly, while others will want to go at their own pace. Whatever your preference, be sure to make sure it’s manageable for you. Finding time for you and prioritizing self-care will keep you balanced and help you be the best nurse, student, parent, partner, friend, and sibling you can be.