How to Get Your BSN While Still Working

With the healthcare industry booming, are you worried that recent nursing grads are leaving you behind? Did the Institute of Medicine’s call for 80% of nurses to have a BSN by the year 2020 motivate you to consider going back to school? Since 2002, the percentage of nurses graduating with a BSN has increased from 45% to almost 59% today, and more importantly, healthcare organizations are increasingly requiring a BSN for job vacancies. For nurses who have yet to earn a BSN, there is often unnecessary trepidation about being able to go back to school while still working full-time. Fortunately, the efforts to increase the BSN workforce have included streamlining nursing programs to accommodate working students. Here are a few tips for earning your BSN while still working as a nurse full-time.

  1. Understand what a BSN focuses on. Data has shown improved quality of care when administered by a BSN over a RN. The goals for today’s RN to BSN programs are to provide nurses with intermediate and advanced skills and technical proficiencies allowing them to treat a wider array of patients. BSN programs also focus on leadership, communication, critical thinking and other skills that foster greater levels of collaboration within a nursing team.
  2. Know what is required to get into a BSN program. While each program contains specific requirements, generally a RN will need the following to gain access to a BSN program:
    • Nursing License
    • Criminal Background Check: Some RN to BSN programs require the passing of a criminal background check, physical exam, or drug screening.
    • Exams: Some programs require prospective students to complete the Elsevier’s HESI Admission Assessment (A2).
    • Miscellaneous: Varies by program, but some require a GPA of 2.0 or higher, completion of a personal essay, and transcripts.
  3. Determine your best individual learning environment. Some RN to BSN nursing programs are conducted almost entirely online except for clinical rotations. These programs are typically favored by nurses who are working full time while continuing their studies, although online learning doesn’t work for everyone. If you are the type of learner who benefits more from classroom settings, you will need to manage a school schedule that is conducive to your work schedule.
  4. Overcome the “Intimidation Factor.” Going back to school can seem intimidating for even the best of students. The best thing you can do is accept the fact that it may not be easy, but in no way is your undertaking impossible. Thousands of nurses nationwide are currently in BSN programs while they are still working. Thousands more are graduating each year, and there is no reason you can’t join the ranks. In fact, nursing program administrators are looking for applicants who can handle the added responsibility of managing school and a career.
  5. Be prepared for the time commitment. Typically, a RN to BSN program will take up to 120 credit hours or two years to complete. Another consideration that some nurses may want to consider is an accelerated BSN program which can reduce the length of the program to 12 or 18 months. An accelerated BSN program is much more intense than a standard RN to BSN program, but many nurses still find that they can successfully handle it while working.

No matter what your preference is for the educational setting or length, the most important decision you will make is determining which program is right for you. In researching different programs, always make sure that program accreditation is a top priority. Another benefit to choosing an accredited program is that you may be eligible for scholarships and more federal student aid.

Supplemental Health Care is an employer who understands the educational investment you have made to become a healthcare professional. We also want to help you advance your career to achieve whatever personal and professional goals you have set for yourself. Contact one of our recruitment professionals today, and learn about how we can help you find your perfect nursing or allied opportunity.

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