BSN registered nurse talking to a patient

A BSN nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program, a four-year program. However, this isn’t the only way to become an RN. The minimum amount of schooling you need to practice as an RN in the US is an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), a two-year program.

While this is an acceptable degree for RNs, a BSN better prepares students for the work ahead and is the degree employers prefer. In addition, those with a BSN get higher pay and more opportunities if they wish to advance their career.

What are the steps to becoming a BSN nurse?

To become a BSN nurse, you need—you guessed it—a BSN. But that’s not the only thing you need to be a practicing RN. You must also pass an exam and a license to practice in your state.

Earn a BSN nursing degree

There are four types of BSN programs you can choose from, depending on your previous experience:

  • A traditional BSN degree program

  • An LPN-to-BSN degree program

  • An RN-to-BSN degree program

  • A second-degree BSN

A traditional BSN degree program is a four-year program geared toward students who are fresh out of high school and who don’t yet have any healthcare experience.

An LPN-to-BSN degree program is also called a bridge program. It allows those who already work in healthcare to get credit for the experience they can put toward their BSN.

An RN-to-BSN degree program, also called an ADN-to-BSN program, is for people who already have an associate’s degree and want to apply the credit they’ve already received to a new BSN to get their degree faster.

A second-degree BSN is meant for people with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field who want a second degree. It allows them to transfer some of the credits from their first to a second degree so they can shave off some time to get a BSN.

Pass the NCLEX-RN nursing exam

The NCLEX-RN is the official computerized exam you must pass to practice as an RN. It’s graded as pass/fail, and you must answer anywhere from 75 to 265 questions.

The test comprises four main categories:

  • The Safe & Effective Care Environment

  • Health Promotion & Maintenance

  • Psychosocial Integrity

  • Physiological Integrity

Before registering for the exam, you must apply for licensure and complete any other requirements, which vary by state.

Decide which area of nursing you wish to pursue

There are a variety of positions available for those who hold a BSN, including:

  • Registered nurse

  • Health educator

  • Pharmaceutical sales representative

  • Nurse manager

  • Medical researcher

  • Director of Nursing

  • Nurse consultant

  • Medical writer

  • Insurance Specialist

  • Health coach

  • Chief nursing officer

  • Travel Nurse

Read More: What are the different levels of nursing?

Gain work experience

You’ll likely be required to renew your license every two or three years. You may complete a certain number of clinic hours. Hands-on experience is essential if you wish to continue working as a nurse. It allows you to practice what you’ve learned.

Apply for nursing jobs

Once you’ve completed your BSN, obtained a practice license, and passed the exam, you can start applying for nursing jobs. BSN nurses can work in lots of different settings. You can apply for jobs in hospitals, schools, correctional facilities, camps, law firms, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, physician’s offices, public health centers, and private homes.

Can you become a BSN nurse online?

Several accredited programs are available online for BSN nurses, whether you’re looking for a traditional, fast-track, or bridge program. However, you must take the exam and log your clinical hours in person.

What positions can you progress to from being a BSN nurse?

A BSN allows you lots of opportunities to advance your career. You can enroll in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. These programs allow you to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) or a Nurse Practitioner (NP). Then, if you go back to school and get an advanced certification, you can do almost any type of nursing you want.

How much do BSN nurses make?

BSN nurses’ salaries vary by state, but they make more money than ADN nurses. While they may not make more money doing the same job as an ADN nurse, more opportunities are generally available to those with better educational credentials. BSN nurses also have more job opportunities in the future if they wish to move up the ladder as a healthcare professional.

Read More: How much do Nurses make in each state?

How long does it take to become a BSN nurse?

You can become a BSN nurse in four years. A traditional BSN program takes four years to complete, and if you register for licensure and pass your exam right away, you can work as an RN immediately. On the other hand, if you have previous experience and complete a fast-tracked program with some planning, you might be able to start practicing in two years.

Read More: How long does it take to become a nurse?

Extra FAQs about becoming a BSN nurse

Is a BSN the same as an RN?

A BSN is a route you can take to become an RN. BSN stands for Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The other route you can take is getting an ADN, which stands for Associate Degree in Nursing. While they’re both acceptable ways of becoming an RN, more opportunities are available to those who complete a bachelor’s degree program.

What comes first, RN or BSN?

You can do it either way when you’re writing out your name—for example, either John Doe, RN, BSN, or John Doe, BSN, RN. However, for academic purposes, the correct way to write it is John Doe, BSN, RN, because you’re supposed to write your degree first, followed by licensure.

Can I get a BSN without being an RN?

Yes. A BSN is a degree you get from completing an academic program. The title of RN represents your license to practice nursing. If you complete a BSN program, you will have a BSN without being an RN.

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