April 29, 2008, 9:22 pm

RN-to-BSN – It’s The Way to Go


Now this is the way to deal with overcrowding in emergency departments!

Too many patients for the number of rooms? Stack ’em up vertically!

You know those big sliding ladders they use to reach books on the high shelves at Barnes and Noble? Just hook one of those to the side rails and roll your way from patient to patient!

Simply outfit each berth with it’s own monitor and blood pressure cuff.

Hmmm…HIPAA could be an issue….I know! Every patient signs an affidavit stating they will not ever tell another living soul what they see or hear!

The curse of immediate bedding solved – simply add levels as you add patients.

(Looks like that guy in the front is pretty happy, got himself some Charles Dickens and it’s time for orange juice rounds. What more could you ask for?)


I’m almost done with my “Theoretical Foundations of Nursing Practice” class and it has been very enlightening. I can tell you with absolute certainty that I would not have appreciated this material in nursing school.


Because I did not have the experience needed to relate to the concepts and approaches to nursing.

I can tell you with absolute certainty that after thirty years at the bedside, it has changed my practice.


I look at my patients differently. I find myself more culturally sensitive. I recognize assumptions that affect the way I provide care. I can look at a patient and understand that one theory does not “fit all” and choose the approach that is best for the situation.

I view the environment of my workplace differently. I’m more aware of the ethical dilemmas I see almost every day.

But most importantly, I see my profession differently and it affects my behavior and my interactions with other members of the health care team.


I’m an ADN graduate and have functioned at a very high level with that eduational background for three decades. I am proud of my ADN and would argue that the ADN program produces excellent nurses until I’m blue in the face. Call me a “technical” nurse because I don’t have a BSN and you might find yourself needing an ice pack.


Eventually, this profession is going to need to go to a BSN requirement.

Hear me out…..don’t start typing yet!

Notice I did not say a BSN as an entry level. I don’t believe a BSN is required to begin to practice nursing.

In fact, as an entry level, I don’t think a BSN is any better than an ADN!

So what am I saying?

I’m saying that all entry level programs whether ADN or BSN have one thing in common: they all must teach with an eye on passing the NCLEX. That makes the programs very inflexible as to what can be taught, and neither program can provide what you really need to appreciate nursing education at the baccalaureate level.



It is my opinion that when you put an ADN graduate in a BSN program, they will get more out of it than a student in a generic entry-level BSN program.

After you have worked as an RN, that foundation of experience allows you to take subjects like nursing theory and really absorb them, make them a part of your practice. It also allows you to contribute your experiences to the classroom – in my case an online classroom – enriching your classmates and learning from them in turn.

I really do believe it is worth it to go back to school for a BSN, if not financially, at least professionally. Once you are a working RN, an online BSN program allows so much flexibility it makes it fun to go to class. If you need a physical classroom, there are a ton of programs that you can work your schedule around.

I should have done this ten years ago.

Maybe it’s just me, but there is a value to this BSN I’m in the process of obtaining. Some of this value is tangible, some is not.

It’s making me a better nurse.


  • Candy

    April 30, 2008 at 8:04 am

    I see the latte has worked for you and I have only one thing to say: AMEN!!!! (If I could type this in a bigger, bolder font, I would.)

    YOU GO, GIRL. You know my theory on nursing education (since I’ve forced you to listen to it over and over) but the way you’ve articulated it should be shouted from the rooftops of every hospital, nursing school and governmental building in the country. The California legislature really needs to hear what you’ve said, then make funding available for bridge programs — along with health systems, which would only be buying themselves happier, more satisfied, less-likely-to-leave nurses.

    GOOD FOR YOU!!! (and go GB Phoenix!)

  • Katie Bee

    April 30, 2008 at 9:29 am

    You shouldn’t have to be embarrassed by saying that you think BSN is the way to go. As a profession, if we want to be taken seriously, and we want to make strides in the corporate healthcare environment, we have to prove we are developing ourselves in the highest form possible. That’s not elitism, that’s reality, that’s progress, that’s elevating nursing.

    Way to go, when do you start the MSN? LOL 🙂

  • NurseExec

    April 30, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    While I appreciate your obvious enthusiasm for the BSN, I have to disagree that it makes a difference professionally or financially in some parts of our profession. I am the DON in a 120 bed short term rehab, and I am an ADN, with almost 20 years of critical care, operating room, and rehab experience. I attained the highest position for a nurse in my profession without a BSN, and don’t feel any less prepared to do my job. If I did have a BSN, I wouldn’t be paid any more than I am now. It simply isn’t that big of a deal in our market.

    For the record, I am a semester or two shy of a BSN, but decided not to finish, as it would only cost me MORE money. Sounds silly, I know, but I can’t see the benefit. I started the program back in the day when I thought I wanted to be an ARNP. Changed my mind…

    Love your blog, and this was a very interesting post.

  • carol

    April 30, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    I honestly believe if something is not done to make it easier for a nurse to be a nurse and do her or his job it won’t matter what kind of a degree one has. Nurses are leaving the profession left and right. We are going to have a real crisis on our hands in this country. You can open more schools, hire more instructors,obtain higher degrees, and etc, but those nurses that do graduate will not remain in this profession for long unless conditions drastically change.

  • […] from Emergiblog tells us why RN to BSN is the way to go. As someone who last year completed a Masters and has a Bachelors in Nursing after many years as a […]

  • Nurse K

    April 30, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    As someone who started out with a BSN, I think the nursing theories gave me 0.000% benefit and were overall a waste of time, but I think BSN addresses more critical-thinking/leadership type issues and offers more clinical time, including public health clinical time which was beneficial.

    Nursing theories though? Not. Helpful.

  • Mon

    May 1, 2008 at 2:32 am

    I always wonder where you get your photos.

  • greenie

    May 1, 2008 at 6:26 am

    I am a new nurse (ADN) who personally is leaning away from getting a BSN. Why? Well because 20 years ago I attained a bachelors degree and do not feel that getting a BSN in nursing is going to make me a better nurse. I feel that all of the skills I obtained as a project manager in the design industry and through other manager positions I held do me just fine. I do not desire to go into the management side of nursing and personally I would like to see my degree (BAA) count for something.


  • Disappearingjohn

    May 1, 2008 at 8:11 am

    I’m on the edge on that one. I just finished my RN to BSN, and am moving on to my Master’s. I am a fairly new nurse, so maybe I haven’t seen enough to see the difference. I do know that I have found I enjoy the process of learning, so that is why I am continuing, as well as wanting to achieve a goal…

  • nurse regina

    May 7, 2008 at 10:21 am

    I agree that many nurses have attained the highest level of nursing in their agency or professional area wihtout a BSN and that many ADN’s make more money than a BSN. HOWEVER, until I finished my MSN and NP, I did not know what I did not know. When I completed my doctorate, I was and am still positive I will never know enough to be the best for patients and students! Lifelong learning is critical in a rapidly changing profession, like nursing, with its technological advances and continually improved patient care through nursing research. I encourage everyone to continue to learn and grow, with the BSN as the starting gate.

  • Jeff

    July 17, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Great post. More education is always going to help you. It always takes your understanding to a much deeper level.

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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