America needs more nurses. Unfortunately, although the need is well-known, many institutions have been slow to address this growing national crisis. As a result, some of the states most in need of nurses are home to universities with limited capacity in their nursing programs, making it difficult to educate new nurses and meet the workforce demand.
California is a prime example. In the Golden State, reports of nursing school waitlists in excess of six years are not unheard of — and that doesn’t even include the time it takes in the program to earn a nursing degree. There, as in many places, nursing schools have struggled to expand their programs to accommodate more students; in part because nurses in these high-demand job markets can often earn more as practicing RNs than they can educating the next generation of nurses.
This has led to some universities taking innovative approaches to admit greater numbers of qualified nursing students. From offering an Accelerated BSN program that can be completed in as few as 16 months to an online Pre-Nursing program designed to prepare students to apply for ABSN programs, Concordia University–Portland is working to reduce the deficit of nurses on America’s West Coast.
Today, we’ll be discussing these two nursing degree paths — how they work and who they are for — as well as why it’s important that you earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to become a nurse.
Multiple Paths to Earning Your BSN
Despite the crowded applicant pools and stories of well-qualified students being turned away from nursing school, you do have options. Whether you have 60 college credits, a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, or no credits, you may be able to earn your BSN sooner than you think at Concordia University–Portland.
In addition to offering a four-year BSN program for students seeking a more traditional college experience at our main campus in Northeast Portland, we also offer Accelerated BSN and Pre-Nursing degree paths. Which is right for you depends on your academic experience.
Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program
If you have at least 60 credits from an accredited university and want to earn your nursing degree as soon as possible, our Accelerated BSN program could be your best option. This 16-month accelerated nursing track consists of online coursework, hands-on skills and simulation labs, and diverse clinical rotations working together to create a synchronous learning experience.
Translation? Our program is laid out so that the material you learn on your own via assigned readings and online coursework directly relates to what is being covered during your in-person labs and clinicals at the same time. The result is a thorough understanding of the concepts and information necessary not only to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), but most importantly, to thrive as both a nurse and a leader.
Is an Accelerated BSN Worth It? Learn why one graduate is happy she chose Concordia University’s ABSN program.
In addition to offering three program starts a year — in January, May, and August — at our ABSN learning site near Beaverton, Concordia University–Portland is expanding its ABSN program offerings. Beginning in summer 2020, we will be adding a second hybrid ABSN program combining online coursework and hands-on labs and clinicals in Portland, as well as one in Utah — Concordia University Salt Lake City. And for students who prefer campus-based lectures over online coursework, we will also be offering a campus-based ABSN program in Portland.
All of this means more options for you to fast-track your nursing career at a university deeply committed to producing nurse-leaders who are ready to face the challenges of an increasingly complex healthcare system.
What if you don’t meet the requirements for admission into our ABSN program?
Associate of Arts in Pre-Nursing Degree Program
Maybe you started school at another university but decided to switch to nursing before earning enough credits to be eligible for our Accelerated BSN program, or you simply wish to sidestep the traditional four-year college path. If you don’t have enough credits to get into an accelerated nursing program, our Associate of Arts in Pre-Nursing degree program could be the opportunity you’re looking for.
Offered 100% online, this associate’s degree program provides prospective nursing students the credits and academic foundation needed for admission into an accelerated nursing program. What’s more, you may be able to graduate from our Pre-Nursing program in as few as eight months. That means you could be ready to start an accelerated nursing program in less than a year!
Why You Need a BSN Degree to Become a Nurse
At this point, you may be wondering whether it’s absolutely necessary to begin your nursing career with a BSN degree. Technically speaking, you don’t need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree to practice as a nurse … not yet, anyway. However, the industry is changing fast, which makes starting your nursing career with a BSN a very smart decision.
Here are three reasons you should consider a BSN degree.
1. BSN-Educated Nurses Provide Better, Safer Care
When the Institute of Medicine unveiled its ambitious goal of 80% of registered nurses holding a BSN degree by 2020 nearly a decade ago, it did so on the strength of a growing body of research showing a link between better-educated nurses and improved patient outcomes. In the care of BSN-educated nurses, patients were found to have lower rates of mortality and hospital re-admission within a month. Additionally, BSN nurses have been found to make fewer mistakes. All of these benefits of a BSN degree are attributed to rigorous schooling, higher knowledge, and thus more autonomy to make critical and life-saving decisions at the bedside.
2. More and More Healthcare Facilities Are Requiring RNs to Have BSN Degrees
Of course hospitals want to see better patient outcomes. After all, the goal is to provide the best care possible. Hiring BSN-educated nurses doesn’t just make sense from a care perspective, though. In today’s competitive hospital environment, the percentage of nurses with a BSN is a matter of prestige, especially as the industry rushes to meet the goals of the 80% by 2020 initiative. This is why many top hospitals will not hire new RNs who do not hold a BSN — meanwhile, others have set strict deadlines by which current RNs must hold a BSN. Not to mention, better patient outcomes and a higher percentage of nurses with BSN degrees are factors in whether a hospital or health system achieves much-coveted Magnet® status.
3. A BSN Degree Means More Opportunities and Greater Earning Potential
So if BSN-educated nurses lead to better, safer care for patients and hospitals are increasingly hiring only those RNs who hold a BSN degree, it would make sense that a BSN equals greater opportunity. While there isn’t a lot of data available comparing RNs with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) to those with a BSN, according to the latest national data from PayScale, nurses with an ADN degree and less than one year of experience earn an average of $57,874 a year compared to an average salary of $73,482 for BSN-degree holders with less than one year of experience.
However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Not only can nurses with a BSN degree earn more; they also have far more opportunities in the workforce. For example, most hospitals require nurse managers to hold a BSN degree. Additionally, many of the most exciting positions aren’t available to nurses with just an associate’s degree.
Where Will a BSN Degree Take You?
Give us a call today to talk to an enrollment specialist, or fill out the form to have someone reach out to you. He or she will be able to help you decide which program is right for you and set you on the path to success.