In general, the more education and experience an RN has, the better his or her rate of pay. RNs with a diploma or an associate degree can move up on the pay scale by enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program.
Many RNs receive their training through associate degree or diploma programs, which typically last between two and three years. Besides basic training in the sciences and in nursing skills, RNs in these programs receive hands-on training, with little to no advanced theory or research.
Offered at many colleges and universities, the B.S.N. is usually a four-year program. RNs, however, can earn credit for course work already completed and through related work experience, which can decrease the time it takes to acquire the degree.
Many programs offer a flexible schedule to ensure that working RNs can take the classes they need. Courses can be available in the evenings or on the weekends. A few B.S.N. programs offer RN-only classes.
Some employers help RNs foot the bill for the bachelor’s program. About 30 percent of graduates with a B.S.N. were enrolled in an RN-to-B.S.N. program.
Requirements for the B.S.N. vary depending on the program. An RN-to-B.S.N. student should have a high school diploma and either an Associate of Science in Nursing (A.S.N.) or a three-year diploma. In addition, the SAT or ACT exam should be taken. Students should carefully investigate B.S.N. programs to find one that matches their needs.
B.S.N. graduates are equipped with the management skills to supervise whole patient units, as well as to train new nurses. Furthermore, a B.S.N. lays the foundation for graduate-level study.