How the RN to BSN Program Prepares Nurses for Graduate Studies

Completing an RN to BSN program online provides several career opportunities for registered nurses, including the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree. In addition to advanced assessment skills and knowledge, an RN to BSN program teaches nurses several academic skills required for graduate degree work. Bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees can provide better income and specialized career opportunities for nurses.

How Does a BSN Prepare a Nurse for Graduate School?

In an RN to BSN program, nurses learn how to analyze information and think critically. They also learn the importance of evidence-based research, which can improve patient outcomes. Nurses in an RN to BSN program may also develop improved study skills, allowing them to read and interpret research studies and write academic papers better. All these skills serve as a steppingstone to graduate-level academic preparation.

What Skills Can a Nurse Gain From a BSN Program?

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), “BSN nurses are prized for their skills in critical thinking, leadership, case management, and health promotion, and for their ability to practice across a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings.” BSN nurses also develop improved communication skills and critical and analytical thinking. Nurses who have earned a BSN are better prepared to implement patient care and treatment plans. Their advanced skills and knowledge can also enable them to mentor other nurses.

Why Is Educational Preparation Important for Nurses?

Employers increasingly require bachelor’s degrees from nursing applicants. According to data collected in 2020 by the AACN from 647 schools of nursing, “41.1% of hospitals and other healthcare settings are requiring new hires to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, while 82.4% of employers are expressing a strong preference for BSN program graduates.”

A BSN and graduate degree with specialty concentrations is required for nurses who want to specialize in advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) roles such as clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, midwife or nurse anesthetist.

Similarly, nurses who would like to pursue nursing management roles or leadership positions, conduct research or teach nursing at a college or university will need graduate preparation at a master’s or doctoral level.

In What Healthcare Settings Are BSN and Graduate Degrees Useful?

BSN-prepared nurses are often sought-after for their advanced skill set and can work in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings. These include hospitals, surgical centers, physician practices, home health care and long-term care facilities. The military, magnet hospitals and federal agencies also value the skills and knowledge of BSN-prepared nurses, often requiring the degree.

Due to the shortage of physicians in rural and remote areas, APRNs such as nurse practitioners are in great demand to provide various healthcare needs and care for patients of all ages. APRNs in rural and remote areas function with a great deal of autonomy as generalists, which requires advanced practice skills since physicians are often inaccessible. APRNs are also well qualified to work in private practice.

Nurses with BSN and graduate-level preparation are increasingly sought after by administrators, medical practices, the military and healthcare facilities across the country. BSN and graduate-level preparation allow nurses the ability to specialize and work in almost any nursing role they choose. With an increasing number of employers requiring nurses to have a BSN, nurses should plan to ensure they have the education necessary for their career goals.

Learn more about The University of New Mexico's Online RN to BSN.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing:
American Association of Colleges of Nursing: The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice
Employment of New Nurse Graduates and Employer Preferences for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses

Daily Nurse: Planning for Graduate School

National Conference for State Legislators: Meeting the Primary Care Needs of Rural America: Examining the Role of Non-Physician Providers

Nursing Journal: Top 10 Advantages of a BSN Degree

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