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Is a BSN Required for Some Jobs?

Healthcare is in a constant state of expansion. New technologies and improved access to care via urgent care centers and telemedicine — not to mention the Affordable Care Act — have forced healthcare workers to keep up with these advances.

One career which has focused its efforts on improving quality of care is nursing. Per Abby Schneider, MSN, RN, “Nursing in the 21st century is more complex than ever before. The complexity of this care requires transitioning from skill-based competencies to those that assess knowledge and competence on health policy, system improvement, research, evidenced-based practice, teamwork and collaboration, complex decision making and leadership,” she noted in her article.

Specifically, registered nurses (RNs) are being encouraged to explore further education by obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. A BSN not only makes you more marketable as a nurse, you’ll be a better nurse for having earned the degree.

And some nursing specialties actually require a BSN.

Which Jobs Require a BSN Degree?

One nursing specialty that calls for a BSN or higher is school nursing — including public, private, parochial and charter schools. They may also be employed by local boards of education, departments of health, and universities. While parents and teachers may not fully understand the scope of a school nurse’s responsibilities, their job involves much more than applying Band-Aids. Their role is integral to the health and safety of an entire school environment, from immunization tracking to mental health concerns.

In the military, nurses must hold a BSN; the only exception is the Army Reserve, which accepts nurses with only an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). The focus on critical thinking and decision-making in the RN to BSN program is highly applicable in a military nurse’s career.

Magnet hospitals are often viewed as attractive employers, due to their reputation of higher job satisfaction, better working environments and exceptional patient outcomes. Achieving Magnet status is challenging, evidenced by the fact that only 505 hospitals in the U.S. have been granted this status. The low number of hospitals to have achieved Magnet status only makes competition for these jobs all the more fierce. To work as a nurse leader at a Magnet hospital, you must have a BSN.

Considering These Jobs? Raise Your Competitive Advantage

While not required, there are nursing positions that overwhelmingly prefer nurses who have earned a BSN. This doesn’t mean a nurse with an ADN will automatically be eliminated, but it does improve your potential if you have further education. Here are a few examples:

  • Hospital nurses: Hospitals are the largest employers of nurses, and many of those nurses choose to work in specialties like pediatrics, geriatrics, emergency care or intensive care.
  • Leadership nurses: Nurse managers and educators both require expertise in the “business” side of their roles, in addition to being skilled in training and staff development.
  • Clinical research nurses (CRNs): These nurses play an important role in progressing clinical trials of drugs or other medical treatments. CRNs typically work in hospitals, specialized clinics or at pharmaceutical companies.
  • Public health nurses: Responsible for serving communities, public health nurses take a proactive approach to patient care. They often work with government services or community healthcare programs to advocate for improved access to care.
  • Case management nurses: For patients who need long-term, comprehensive care, case management nurses coordinate treatments, surgeries, and rehabilitation and may even advise avenues of care that best benefit the patient.

With these and other nursing positions continuing to push for higher education, it will become increasingly important for established nurses and those just entering nursing programs to look ahead to the future. This is particularly true as regulatory measures are being initiated and enforced.

Will New York’s BSN in 10 Law Affect You?

The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, a report released in 2010 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) — now known as the National Academy of Medicine — recommended that 80% of RNs obtain a BSN degree by 2020. While that goal has not yet been achieved, initiatives are in place to ensure more RNs are actively working toward a BSN degree. One state, New York, is the first to implement this recommendation into law.

The BSN in 10 law states that any nurse who wants to practice in New York — including travel nurses and nurses who completed their training in another state — must complete their BSN within 10 years on initial licensure, though parameters allow certain RNs to be grandfathered in and not be held to regulatory requirements.

Looking to the Future

Even those nurses who are grandfathered in under the BSN in 10 law should consider advancing their education. As more states and more healthcare organizations understand the implications of not having BSN-prepared nurses on staff, the list of “must have BSN” positions will grow beyond the pool of available candidates.

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s online RN to BSN program.

Sources: Driving Factors Behind the 80% BSN by 2020 Initiative

Inside Higher Ed: Debate Continues on Nursing Degrees

VeryWell Health: Differences Between BSN and MSN Degrees

Campaign for Action: Number of Hospitals in the United States With Magnet Status

Johns Hopkins Medicine: The Johns Hopkins Hospital Achieves Magnet Recognition Again

National Academy of Medicine: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health What Is a Military Nurse?

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