There are many paths one can take in the field of nursing. Many consider the designation of Registered Nurse (RN) to be the gold standard. Being an RN means you’ve achieved a certain level of education and status in the world of healthcare, and it’s also a great stepping stone toward more advanced roles in hospital or healthcare settings. The BSN designation is an educational one, not a job title. BSN means Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing—it’s a college degree that allows you to become an RN or other positions in healthcare, although you don’t necessarily need a BSN to become an RN.
Let’s examine what it takes to become an RN, how you can earn your BSN, and what might be the right choice for you.
Becoming An RN
To become a Registered Nurse, you have a few options. You can earn your Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) from a board-accredited program, college, or university. Or, you can earn your Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an approved college or university. Either path gets you the education requirements you’ll need to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam, which gives you RN licensure in the state where you choose to practice.
Take note, however, that many employers look for a BSN degree when hiring. Your job options may be somewhat limited if you become an RN while only holding your ADN.
Earning Your BSN
You’ll need to attend a four-year program at an accredited college or university to earn your Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. If you already have a Bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing-related field, you may be able to take advantage of certain programs that allow you to use your prerequisites to earn your degree faster. And healthcare professionals who already hold other certifications, like LPN or CNA certifications, can enroll in “bridge programs” that can shorten that four-year timeframe, too.
What Path is Right For Me?
When you earn your BSN, you can choose to become an RN, or you can explore other areas of healthcare—specialties, advanced nursing degrees above a BSN, and more. If you choose to forgo your BSN, you can still become an RN, if that’s what your goal is. You can always return to school later if you’d like to earn your BSN in the future. At the end of the day, the decision is yours and yours alone.