What is the Difference between RN to BSN and BSN?

by NU Online on 3/8/21 10:57 AM

There are a variety of pathways for a person to obtain a registered nurse status. From two-year degrees to master’s degrees and beyond, different levels of education play an important factor for nurses in their career paths. Understanding each level of education for registered nurses is the first step to reaching your nursing goals.


What is an RN?

Simply put, an RN is anyone who holds a registered nursing license. In order to obtain an RN, a person must take and pass the NCLEX-RN (The National Council Licensure Examination) exam; however, in addition to taking and passing the NCLEX exam, a person must earn a college-level education. The starting level education for registered nurses is an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), which is typically offered at community colleges or vocational schools and takes two or three years to complete. ADN programs build on general education and nursing and clinical practices while focusing on foundational nursing and biology courses. Requirements to earn an RN vary by state, but most ADN programs require supervised clinical hours at a hospital or healthcare facility.

While ADN and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) registered nurses work together to care for patients, earning a BSN can boost nurses into their career path of choice by providing students with the foundation to build leadership skills. Employers often seek out nurses with a bachelor’s degree, which means BSN nurses often earn a higher salary than ADN nurses.


What is a BSN?

stethoscope-chart-smallA four-year degree can also earn you an RN but with more benefits. Similar to the ADN, BSN students have to take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam at the end of their studies. With two extra years of education, BSN students are better prepared for the NCLEX-RN exam, which has a reputation for its difficulty, even for top-performing students. BSN program curriculum includes more general education courses than an ADN degree program, including math and humanity courses, and BSN program curriculum will cover more nursing theory and topics, such as ethics and public health. BSN students complete lab requirements and clinical hours on campus, and BSN students are expected to participate in supervised clinical hours at a hospital or healthcare facility.

Although a BSN is the standard and preferred level of education for entry-level nursing jobs, a BSN can put you on the path for leadership roles in nursing. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing can put nurses in a better position to teach and to move into case management and nurse manager roles. Depending on the position a nurse is moving into, a BSN can double the salary of an entry-level ADN registered nurse.


What is an RN-BSN?

A person who has already earned their registered nursing license through an associate’s degree program can use that to his or her advantage through an RN-BSN program. Unlike a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, an RN-BSN program will earn a student a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in less than two years due to the student holding a registered nursing license through their previously earned Associate Degree in Nursing. Due to the unique nature of RN-BSN programs, the program curriculum focuses on building off of prior work experience and education to build a better understanding of patient care and deepen clinical and analytical skills. Although the RN-BSN program curriculum may be similar to a traditional BSN program, RN-BSN students are expected to complete direct care clinical coursework at their place of work.

An RN-BSN program could be the best fitting program for ADN nurses interested in moving up in the field or expanding their nursing knowledge without attending a four-year college. RN-BSN programs are held at colleges and universities across the U.S. in multiple formats, including at both traditional and online schools.


Norwich University’s Nursing Programs

Norwich University offers traditional and online nursing programs designed to help students reach their full nursing potential based on their individual academic needs. To prepare nurses for the critical demand in their field, Norwich University offers the following nursing programs:

  • Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN)
  • Online Master of Science in Nursing
  • Online Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing


Norwich University Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing

The Norwich traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program is a four-year, in-person program held at the Norwich campus in Northfield, Vermont. With clinical affiliations such as Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and the University of Vermont Medical Center, Norwich students can access community and clinical resources for excellent experiential learning. Students also use various technological applications in the classroom and in clinical settings, including electronic health records, handheld PDAs, and innovative applications for accessing timely clinical information.

With the demand for nurses growing, Norwich’s traditional BSN program puts nurses in a great position to work in numerous leadership roles at medical centers and hospitals across the U.S. Norwich also offers an in-person accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program for those with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree so that students can earn their BSN in 18 months.


Norwich University Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN)

The Norwich online RN to BSN degree completion program helps nurses enhance their skillset to stand out in the increasingly changing healthcare industry. Nurses in Norwich’s online Bachelor of Science in Nursing program can advance their career, prepare for a master’s degree, or expand into a different area of healthcare.


Taught by subject matter experts in the field who hold master’s degrees, the online RN-BSN program will allow those accepted into the program to transfer up to 90-semester credits towards their degree and choose from several start dates per year for enrollment. Upon completing Norwich’s RN-BSN program, those who wish to earn a master’s degree in nursing may enter Norwich’s online Master of Science in Nursing program.


Norwich University Online Master of Science in Nursing

The online Master of Science in Nursing program helps nurses to pursue advanced roles in healthcare systems leadership, nursing education, or nurse practitioner by strengthening the crucial critical thinking, communication, and decision-making skills. Students can tailor their online nursing degree by choosing a concentration, which includes:

  • Healthcare Systems Leadership
  • Nursing Education
  • Nurse Practitioner
    • Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
    • Family Nurse Practitioner
    • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


Healthcare Systems Leadership

For nurses interested in leading healthcare organizations as a nurse administrator, the healthcare systems leadership concentration can provide nurses with the needed finance, human resources, business management, and strategic planning understandings to assist running a healthcare organization.


Nursing Education

Through learning advanced clinical concepts, nurses can qualify themselves to take the National League for Nursing (NLN) Nurse Educator Certification Exam. Norwich’s online nursing education concentration helps to teach nurses advanced clinical concepts, such as pharmacology and health assessment, curriculum and instruction, as well as measurement, assessment, and evaluation.


Norwich University Online Master of Science in Nursing – Nurse Practitioner

The mentoring and evidence-based care role of nurse practitioners continues to grow as many people across the U.S. switch from their primary healthcare physicians to nurses. Nurses can become part of the growing nurse practitioner field through Norwich’s online Master of Science in Nursing-Nurse Practitioner concentration. Norwich’s online nurse practitioner concentration offers three paths – adult gerontology, family, and psychiatric mental health. Once completing the online Master of Science in Nursing core curriculum, students select the nurse practitioner program of their choice.


Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

Norwich’s online Master of Science in Nursing: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track can help nurses grow their skills in providing advanced care to acutely ill adult-gerontology patients.


Family Nurse Practitioner

To better assess patients, order and interpret diagnostic tests, diagnose and initiate, and manage treatment plans, nurses can enter Norwich’s online Master of Science in Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner track.


Practitioner In Psychiatric Mental Health

To be better prepared in assessing and diagnosing mental health conditions, integration and implementation of care, psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, and related mental health treatments, nurses may enter Norwich’s online Master of Science in Nursing: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track.


Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing

Norwich’s online Master of Science in Nursing: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track is also offered as a post-master’s nurse practitioner certificate program, which allows students to earn the APRN certificate after completing the master’s degree program


Learn More

At Norwich, we put our students first and aim to provide an education that best fits each student’s individual needs. Please email learn@norwich.edu to talk with a Norwich admissions advisor to find which nursing program is right for you.

Norwich University Online
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This post was written by NU Online

Norwich University Online offers several master’s degrees and bachelor’s degree completion programs as well as certificate and enrichment programs. Designed to accommodate students’ varied work schedules and lifestyles, our programs are delivered through a virtual and highly interactive learning platform that connects Norwich’s exceptional faculty and curricula to students across the country and around the world.

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