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RN vs. BSN: Your Guide to Nursing Jobs & Degrees

There are so many nursing positions and specializations out there. Discover the differences between an RN vs. BSN now.

The job outlook for nurses in the U.S. continues to look bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that nursing employment is expected to rise 15 percent by the year 2026 (more than double the average growth rate for all occupations). Additionally, Gallup polls have now deemed nursing the most honest and ethical profession for sixteen years in a row.

Without a doubt, nursing is a highly respected and solid career field to join. But there isn’t just one type of nurse, there are many different nursing positions and specializations out there.

With registered nurses (RN), nurse practitioners (NP), and degrees like the Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), the various professions, degrees, and acronyms can get pretty overwhelming.

Luckily, we’re here to help. Continue reading to discover the differences between an RN vs. BSN and how the career differs from the degree.


RN vs. BSN: What’s the difference?

First things first: RN and BSN are not equivalent things – one is a degree and the other a profession.  RN stands for registered nurse, while BSN stands for Bachelor of Science in Nursing. You can obtain a BSN to become an RN, but it’s not required. Here’s the breakdown.


What is an RN?

RNs, or registered nurses, are licensed nurses. Job responsibilities can include:

  • Working with doctors
  • Taking patients’ vitals
  • Recording patients’ medical histories
  • Performing diagnostic tests

To become an RN, you must have either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a BSN. An ADN is usually a shorter time commitment, as this degree typically takes less than two years to complete. A BSN is typically a four-year degree program.

Whether you have an ADN or a BSN, you must pass the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) to become a licensed nurse in the U.S. and Canada. All RNs have passed the NCLEX.


What is a BSN?

A BSN is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. It’s an undergraduate degree that takes roughly three or four years to complete. Courses often include some mix of the following:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Nursing theory
  • Nutrition
  • Anatomy

A BSN also touches on humanities, sciences, and more practical areas of study like communication and leadership.

If you’re an RN with an Associate’s Degree, you can still pursue a BSN through an RN-BSN program like the one offered at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

RN-BSN programs can be completed online and, in some circumstances, can take as little as sixteen months to finish.

With a BSN, RNs can then pursue more dynamic nursing roles, such as:

  • Nurse educators
  • Advance-practice nurses
  • Nursing directors
  • Consultants
  • Mental health specialists

These are just a few of the career opportunities that could be opened upon completion of this type of program.


Why RNs should consider a “bridge” program to obtain a BSN

RNs seeking to advance their career or gain a more comprehensive understanding of patient health care (including the impact of mental health in integrated, quality care) could stand to benefit from pursuing an RN-BSN degree program.

At The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, our Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) program can help open opportunities for current RNs to branch into different roles within the health care profession, including:

  • Professional provider of holistic patient‐centered care
  • Leading and managing nursing
  • Educating nurses and precepting nursing students
  • Consulting for hospitals and private companies
  • Evidence-based practice researchers
  • Advance-practice nurses in different specialties
  • Telehealth nurse specialist

Additionally, many hospitals will be more inclined to employ nurses with a BSN degree to help satisfy the requirements for Magnet Status, an award given to hospitals that demonstrate a commitment to developing strong, quality nursing staff.


Thinking about pursuing your BSN?

If you’re an RN and you’re interested in obtaining your BSN, check out The Chicago School’s Online RN-BSN degree program by visiting the program page, or fill out the form below to request more information.


The Chicago School


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