You may ask yourself if this is a good time to go back to school for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Perhaps you are working and wonder what advantage a BSN would offer. The pandemic is changing the future of healthcare, creating more resources and opportunities for nurses.
7 Reasons You Should Consider a BSN Now
- Nursing Shortage
There is currently a nursing shortage due to multiple factors: retiring nurses, complex healthcare needs, people living longer and nursing faculty shortages. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) projects the demand for almost a quarter of a million nurses to fill new or retiring positions in the next three decades. This number increases each day as nurses resign.
- More Government Aid
As a result of the pandemic, there are more resources to advance nursing education. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019. This legislation authorizes financial resources for nursing workforce development programs through 2024. Specifically, this bill "reauthorizes (1) loan repayment and scholarships for nurses; (2) loans for nursing faculty development; (3) advanced education nursing grants; (4) grants for increasing nursing workforce diversity; and (5) nurse education, practice, quality, and retention grants."
- Waived Requirements
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, several states, including Texas, are waiving certain board of nursing regulations. These changes could allow graduate nurses to delay taking licensure exams, nursing students to begin working earlier, and retired nurses to practice again more easily. Some colleges are even waiving requirements for their nursing programs due to the crisis. These changes may provide more flexibility for students.
- Job Security
While the economy remains uncertain, nursing positions will remain in demand, particularly for BSN graduates. The AACN supported the recommendation by the Institute of Medicine to increase the proportion of BSN-prepared nurses in the workforce to 80% by the end of 2020. New York state passed BSN in 10, which requires registered nurses (RNs) to obtain a BSN within 10 years of initial licensure. While healthcare needs are rapidly changing, many facilities, such as Magnet hospitals, require a certain percentage of BSN-prepared nurses.
- Better Employment Opportunities
A BSN degree can expand your employment opportunities as you will be better prepared for leadership roles fulfilled by charge nurses, supervisors/managers or administrators. Some systems like Children's Health call for a BSN to qualify for initial employment. In contrast, others like the Veterans Administration (VA) require it for advancement. Most nontraditional roles, such as clinical nursing educator, pharmaceutical industry, case management or research usually want a minimum of a BSN. Additionally, most specialty nursing roles (pediatrics, oncology, gynecology, psychiatry, etc.) will either highly prefer or require a BSN.
- Potentially More Pay
RNs with a BSN can earn about $5,000 more per year than nurses without them. They also often hold higher positions, resulting in bigger paychecks. While not all nursing jobs require a BSN, some of the highest-paying nursing positions do, such as legal nurse consultant or industry nurse.
- Expanded Options
No doubt healthcare will change after the COVID-19 pandemic, with more positions in rural areas and telehealth. Faculty and nurse educator positions will be in higher demand. Nurses with a BSN will see expanding career options with the shift to more public health and wellness.
The pandemic demonstrates the great need for nurses to bolster the workforce not just in size but also in professional scope. Our society must prepare better for future pandemics, where nurses will again be patient care leaders. If you are looking for the right time to go back to school, there is no time like the present.
Learn more about the University of New Mexico's online RN to BSN program.
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