RN To BSN Bridge Programs

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RN to BSN: Furthering Your Education, Expanding Your Options

When you got your RN degree, you may have rejoiced thinking that you were done with schooling.  Most RNs who do not have a BSN have obtained an associate’s degree in nursing, although some diploma RNs may still be actively working.


With an ADN, you were able to complete your schooling in as little as two years.  This gave you the ability to earn more money and to work in acute care settings, but the doors to those with more advanced degrees were closed to you.

Many ADN nurses choose to go back to school to get their bachelor’s degree in nursing, or BSN.  This allows you to apply for supervisory and management positions, such as unit manager in a hospital or director of nursing in a nursing home.  Some BSNs get paid more than their ADN counterparts, but the amount is usually not significant.  One of the most important reasons to obtain your BSN is to pursue advanced standing degrees, such as nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, and clinical nurse specialist.  These degrees can allow you to explore every opportunity that the profession of nursing has to offer.


The RN to BSN route is aimed at working RNs who want to further their education.  You already have a background in nursing, and these programs tend to focus on the other aspects taught in BSN programs.  For instance, you will learn about nursing leadership and how to write care plans for nursing units in addition to patients.  You will learn how to apply the nursing process to a group of nurses, and you will learn how to lead them.  It also includes a great deal of advanced nursing knowledge, such as in-depth nursing ethics and nursing theory.

A great deal of the preparation for a BSN focuses on classes that are not typically nursing classes.  This is because a bachelor’s degree carries with it a certain ideal of a well-rounded education.  You may be asked to take classes that directly impact nursing, such as chemistry or pharmacology, but you will likely be asked to take other classes, as well.  For instance, you will have to take several English classes to improve your written communication skills.  This is important for nurse managers, but it isn’t typically thought of as a nursing class.  You may also be asked to take literature classes, history classes, and art appreciation classes.

RN to BSN Programs

Most RN to BSN programs can be completed in two years full time.  However, if you work and have a family to care for, you may not be able to attend class full time.  In this event, the degree may take up to four years to achieve, but it is worth it for the advantages that it brings to your career.  Many colleges have evening programs where you can attend two or three nights per week.  In addition, many weekend programs are also a viable option for working nurses.  Your facility may even help pay for some of your education, since you are working on a degree that improves your nursing license.

You can also work out time off for your classes.  If you have a class that will meet every Tuesday and Thursday, you should ask your manager if he or she can work your schedule so that you have those times free.  Many facilities are willing to work with you to achieve your educational goals.  Although you will have less free time, you will have the pride of achieving an advanced degree, and you can pursue dreams of advanced standing after you have completed your BSN degree.

Another item to consider about RN to BSN programs is the clinical rotations.  Although the clinicals are not at intense as the ones for becoming an RN, they are still necessary to achieve your degree.  You may be asked to shadow a nurse manager or director of nursing for your clinical portion of the degree.  It also helps to realize that the clinicals are in addition to any class work, and you will likely need to make provisions with your job to accommodate both the classes and the clinicals.

RN to BSN Bridge Programs

Online RN to BSN Programs

Online RN to BSN programs are currently one of the most popular degree tracks in many colleges.  Unlike RN programs, the RN to BSN program online can be completed through a distance learning college.  You would take all of the necessary classes via the computer, including nursing theory and classes for your degree.  It is highly convenient because you can do your class work on any day that you are free.  A great deal of the work is done via internet chats, forum posts, PowerPoints, and other reading material.

If you have trouble learning by reading, you may struggle in a distance learning course.  You also need to be able to speak up and ask questions of the instructors.  This may mean sending an email, speaking up in a chat, or calling the person on the phone.  If you learn by doing or seeing, you may have a problem with the intense reading that is required for the online program.  However, with PowerPoint and the internet, you should be able to see diagrams and pictures that can aid you if you learn this way.

Although the clinicals for online RN to BSN programs are not as intense, they are still necessary.  If you take the class through your local college, they will most likely set up the clinicals with local facilities.  In the case of distance learning classes, you will likely have to set up the clinical rotations yourself.  This would include calling the facility, speaking with the educational director, and then attending the clinicals as scheduled.  If you work for a facility, this may be simple as you can tap your employer to help you with clinicals.  When looking outside your work facility, though, you will have to show initiative and assertiveness to get the clinicals scheduled.

Getting your BSN is a big step in furthering your nursing career.  You can find a way to make these programs work with your lifestyle, and that makes them helpful to the working nurse.  If you decide to go the online route, be sure to understand exactly what you are getting into and ensure that you will succeed in that format.  If not, many local colleges offer RN to BSN programs.  Either way, furthering your education will open many doors to you that are generally closed to the ADN RN.