Oklahoma City University Online Nursing Blog
Bachelor of Science in Nursing overview

Bachelor of Science in Nursing: Overview of curriculum, careers and advancement opportunities

two women starting their nursing career

A bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree is the foundational training path in nursing. BSN programs offer current registered nurses a chance to deepen their knowledge in areas like community health, leadership, and research. The BSN curriculum also includes clinical training—such as a health assessment course—which focuses on key nursing skills, and practical courses, such as statistics.

There are a number of paths for earning your nursing degree. A traditional BSN program is made for non-registered nurses so that they can earn a BSN and then take the NCLEX to attain RN licensure. Another common path was created for those who have earned their RN through an associate degree program and are returning to collegiate nursing education to expand their skills. These are referred to both as "RN-BSN programs" and RN to BSN programs. Regardless, obtaining a BSN degree shows that you’ve elevated your training and tells potential employers that you're dedicated to the profession and have the skills they want for their nursing workforce.

This blog focuses primarily on RN-BSN degree pathway, but read on to learn what a BSN overall could mean for your career advancement goals and how to get started developing your nursing career with an online RN-BSN program.

Choosing your BSN degree

Before you choose an RN-BSN program you should look at the requirements for admission, as well as what will be required to graduate. Some programs will award credit for past experience, such as showing that you have a registered nurse license, certain professional nursing certifications and prior associate degree or bachelor's degree courses you may have taken.

Curriculum overview

RN-BSN students typically take core nursing courses along with elective coursework in specialized topics. A strong RN-BSN degree program curriculum will provide training in critical competencies and knowledge on topics like ethical and legal issues in nursing practice and care, critical thinking for problem solving and making effective clinical judgements, promoting holistic health (physical, mental, and spiritual) for patients of all ages and cultures. A nursing bachelor's degree will also touch on care coordination and management across the healthcare system, exemplifying acceptance and respect for patients.

Core BSN classes may include:

  • Professional Nursing
  • Health Assessment
  • Community Health Nursing
  • Nursing Research and Nursing Leadership

BSN degree program electives may include a wide variety of subjects such as:

  • Written Communication
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Science
  • Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences

Traditional bachelor of science in nursing programs require extensive examinations and lab hours but many online nursing degree programs offer classes that are 100% online with no on-campus requirements. Some other nursing schools even provide asynchronous lesson delivery and don't require traditional clinical hours in order to provide maximum flexibility to BSN students.

Benefits of earning a BSN

With the fast pace of health care and advancing technology, more and more health care facilities rely on a nursing workforce with advanced training. In 2022, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing found that more than 28% of hospitals and health care organizations require new hires to hold BSN degrees along with relevant licensure. 72% of hospitals and health care organizations express a strong preference for nurses with BSNs, and 95% of students graduating from a BSN program are employed within six months of graduation, compared to under 53% of all students graduating with a bachelor’s degree.1

In 2017, the New York State Senate passed legislation requiring that all RPNs get a bachelor’s degree within ten years of initial licensure, and other states may follow suit.2

The demand for BSN-qualified nurses is because of the quality of care they're evidenced to provide. The additional training from a BSN program gives nurses more advanced clinical skills and enhances critical thinking. Multiple studies have demonstrated that increasing the amount of patient care provided by BSNs results in significantly lower readmission rates and shorter lengths of stay.3
In some places nurses with a BSN can command higher salaries as well. The average salary for a nurse with a BSN is $102,263 annually,4 compared to $73,573 annually for RNs.5

Nursing career paths for BSN graduates

Completing an RN-BSN program can position you to take more complex nursing positions, such as pediatrics or surgical nursing.6 Nurses with a BSN can also work as health coaches, travel nurses, perioperative nurses or nurse consultants.7

BSN programs like the Oklahoma City University RN-BSN online program offer nurses the opportunity to pursue additional nursing education like a Master of Science in Nursing program. Your BSN will prepare you with crucial knowledge to be ready to take on topics such as public health, education, leadership and more that are offered in master's level nursing programs to prepare you for specialized nursing positions.

Preparing for BSN admission

The admission requirements for many RN-BSN programs require you to show evidence of your current qualifications and past academic experience. You may need to submit materials such as:

  • Proof of an active, unencumbered U.S. RN license
  • Proof of completion of an associate’s degree RN program approved by a state board of nursing
  • Transcripts from your past academic institutions
  • Current Basic Life Support (BLS) and/or CPR certification
  • Documentation of continuing education units (CEUs) from an accredited source in nursing
  • Proof of RN employment
  • Nursing skill certifications
  • Transcripts of any prior courses taken that are not required by the associate’s degree RN program where the degree was awarded

You will also need to submit your official transcripts from every institution you previously attended. In addition, you'll likely need to submit your resume as well as letters of recommendation from past instructors, managers, and colleagues.

Financial considerations

Navigating tuition for an RN-BSN program can be a primary concern for some nursing students. Schools may charge per credit hour or per course, so costs will depend on how many classes you need to take. There is often financial aid available to make affording a BSN program more accessible to all students. Check with your university to see what type of aid students can receive from the school. You may be eligible for academic-, merit-, or talent-based scholarships.

In addition, the university’s financial aid team can help you identify and apply for grants and scholarships. Some workplaces offer tuition assistance for continuing education. Your HR department can tell you what support your workplace offers.

You can continue to work and earn a living while enrolled in many RN-BSN programs. Online BSN programs are often designed to make it easy to schedule classes around your work hours and complete experience hours while you're working at your job.

Advancing your nursing career

If you’re ready to provide outstanding patient care and explore new nursing opportunities, check out Oklahoma City University’s online RN-BSN program. With flexible scheduling, expert faculty, and professional networking opportunities, the Oklahoma City University RN-BSN can help you take your career to the next level. Schedule an appointment with one of our admissions outreach advisors to learn more.

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