Prepare for Nursing Management With a BSN

It is no secret that some of the fastest job growth is happening in healthcare. Registered nurses (RNs) will hold more of those new jobs than any other healthcare providers. Along with the overall job growth comes an increasing need for RNs in leadership and management roles, such as nurse manager.

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the first step in landing these jobs. The RN to BSN online degree program at the University of New Mexico (UNM), for example, includes coursework that helps RNs advance their clinical skills while developing essential nurse management and leadership skills.

How Can Earning a BSN Help?

Nurses who graduate from associate programs take the same national licensing exam as those with a BSN. However, graduates of BSN programs develop the higher-level skills and competencies that today's complex healthcare environments demand.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) points to evidence that links BSN-prepared nurses to better patient outcomes. This includes a decrease in medication errors, patient deaths and failure to rescue. It is not a surprise, then, that nurse leadership and management roles typically require a BSN at a minimum.

UNM's RN to BSN program prepares RNs to respond to the need for nurse leaders. Areas of emphasis include:

  • Professional standards of care
  • Research and evidence-based practice
  • Professional communication
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Health policy and systems thinking
  • Leadership and management

RNs who earn their BSN are likely to find that the investment pays off — not only in better job prospects but also in salary. RNs in general have an average annual salary of $73,550. RNs with a BSN may see a salary bump. According to PayScale (July 2019), BSN-prepared RNs earn an average of $81,000.

What Are Some Leadership Opportunities for BSNs?

For many years, an associate degree in nursing was the entry level education for RNs. Today, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists a BSN as the typical entry-level education for RNs.

RNs who want to advance their career in leadership and management roles will find a broad range of opportunities. As the following examples demonstrate, promotion to these positions will typically require a BSN.

  • Magnet hospitals, recognized for nursing excellence, require all nurse managers and nurse leaders to have a BSN or higher.
  • The Veterans Health Administration, the nation's largest employer of RNs, requires a BSN for RNs who want to advance beyond entry-level positions.

Whatever the healthcare setting, management and leadership roles offer RNs a range of opportunities for advancement. A sampling of these roles includes:

  • Nurse Case Manager
  • Charge Nurse
  • Head Nurse
  • Nurse Manager
  • Nursing Director
  • Director of Patient Care
  • Nurse Unit Manager
  • Nurse Supervisor

RNs who take on these and other leadership roles may see a salary increase. For example, according to PayScale (July 2019), nurse managers earn an average of $84,337. Nursing directors are making close to $89,393. Both of these positions may come with bonuses.

As the nursing workforce grows, more RNs are being called on to fill leadership and management roles. Earning a BSN can open the door to these rewarding opportunities. UNM's online RN to BSN degree program is an affordable option to help RNs get where they want to go. For RNs aspiring to top leadership positions such as chief nursing officer, earning a BSN puts the very credential on their resumes that these positions may require.

Learn more about the UNM online RN to BSN program.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing: The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017

PayScale: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Projections and Worker Characteristics

American Nurses Credentialing Center: Eligibility Requirements

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Nursing

PayScale: Nurse Managers

PayScale: Nurse Directors

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