There are a number of considerations that registered nurses (RNs) should keep in mind when applying to an online RN to BSN program. These programs provide a bridge for diploma- and associate-prepared nurses who wish to advance their careers by developing stronger clinical reasoning and analytical skills. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), RN to BSN programs build on initial nursing preparation and work experience with coursework that enhances professional development, preparing the nurse for a broader scope of practice and providing a better understanding of the cultural, political, economic and social issues that affect patients.
An RN to BSN Snapshot
According to a June 2017 update from AACN, there are about 747 RN to BSN programs available nationwide, including more than 600 offered at least partially online. The number of institutes offering an online RN to BSN program has grown considerably over the last few years, mirroring a trend in the healthcare industry that has seen many professional facilities and institutions beginning to require or prefer the baccalaureate as the entry-level degree. To compete, students have been enrolling in RN to BSN programs in record numbers, with 2015 to 2016 marking the 13th consecutive year of enrollment increases in RN to BSN programs.
Making a Commitment
Completing an online RN to BSN program can take 1 to 2 years depending on the school’s requirements, program type and the student’s previous academic progress. Costs vary from $75 to $300 per credit hour, with factors like in-state discounts driving some of the biggest fluctuations. When choosing a program, prospective students should ensure that their school and its nursing program have earned accreditation from a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accreditation agency such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
An online RN to BSN program includes a curriculum that teaches students core nursing competencies such as critical thinking, cultural awareness, communication, science, human biology, pharmacology and chemistry. Specific BSN courses include clinical pathophysiology, evidence-based practice, nursing management and chronic illness nursing. Students also gain practical experience through clinical rotations — each course requires several dozen hours of dedicated clinical work.
With over 600 RN to BSN programs offered online, there are many to evaluate and choose from. Prospective students can narrow down a search by looking for affordable, accredited programs that offer a strong support network to help with requirements like clinical rotations.
Learn more about the Arkansas State University online RN to BSN program.