The demand for registered nurses is growing faster than average for other fields, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and more than 700,000 jobs are expected to be created by 2020. To become a registered nurse, you can complete a certificate in nursing, get an associate's degree or obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Those who choose to complete the BSN can expect to have more job opportunities and receive higher salaries.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing typically takes four years to complete, just like any other bachelor's degree. Most programs require the completion of 120 credit hours. Many programs admit students as pre-nursing majors for the first year or two while they complete required coursework. If courses are completed successfully and other requirements are met, such as a minimum GPA, students are able to declare their nursing major and proceed to advanced coursework.
The coursework for a BSN program provides a foundation of scientific and medical knowledge. Depending on the program, courses may include science classes such as anatomy, biology, microbiology and physiology. Courses specific to nurse training may include a review of different health care approaches, psychological health, community health, nurse management and health care ethics. The curriculum will vary by program, but courses should prepare nurses to provide patient care and education.
Nurses are required to be licensed in the state in which they plan to work, and one requirement of licensing is a certain number of hours of clinical practice. Most BSN programs include clinical practice as part of the curriculum. Hours will vary according to the program, but clinical practice may be carried out in settings such as local hospitals, clinics, outpatient facilities, long-term care units and community health agencies.
Some colleges and universities offer accelerated programs for the BSN, which may be completed in three years or less. Students may be able to take additional courses each semester or during the summer to speed up the time to graduation. Some other accelerated programs can be completed in as little as 16 months if students already have a bachelor's or associate's degree and can transfer in credits or show competency in the core subject requirements.