March 21, 2011, 5:07 pm

RN-to-Infinity And Beyond

Ah, another exciting Saturday night at the nurses’ residence!

I’d love to make fun of this, but I was geeky enough to view this as absolute heaven at thirteen years old!

Living in the dorm, wearing my cape (and lord almighty wearing my cap!), being casually professional and just all that and a huge bag o’ chips!

And I’m still geeky enough to love every bit of it. Including the dolls on the shelves!

Found the picture in the Library of Congress collection. Bless them. What a treasure trove!


I’ve been sitting here, sort of quiet, watching the blogosphere.

Watching nurses take up the eternal discussion of entry level into practice. It’s been around forever. I have articles from the American Journal of Nursing from the 1940’s talking about an entry level BSN. I wrote an article about the impending demise of ADN programs for my college newspaper in 1977.

My ADN instructors were rather amused.

I’m sensing a change in the tone of the dialog since the release of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report on the Future of Nursing, with its focus on “seamless academic progression” (p. 163). The goal is a nursing workforce that is 80% BSN prepared by 2020 (p.173), including currently licensed RNs.

This encompasses all of today’s nursing force, taking this highly educated, experienced group, recognizing the value of (and the need for) advanced education and developing the current workforce while the future of nursing education is redesigned.

It takes the focus off of where you started and puts the focus on where you want to end up.

And that, my friends, is huge.


Remember the bad old days when it seemed like ADN = BAD! BSN = GOOD! MSN = BETTER! DNP = SAINT! PHD = GOD! LOL! Now, instead of seeing fierce turf wars and nurses at each others’ throats fighting to defend how well prepared they are or how they are just as good as another nurse with a higher degree…

All I hear now is……quiet.

Quiet…contemplation. And, yes, believe it, civil discussion!

For someone who participated in, and triggered, a few of the heated versions, this is amazing!

I swear, you live long enough, you really do see it all!


And I hear questions.

Why? Why should I get a BSN? What would I do with an MSN if I did get it? I don’t want to teach, or be a manager. What else is there? Is it worth the money?

Well, as someone who was never, EVER going to darken the hallway of a BSN course as long as she lived and who is now applying to MSN programs, maybe I can provide some perspective.


IF you are looking for a bigger paycheck or a huge pat on the back and a sparkle in the eye of your employer, well, you won’t find it by adding alphabet soup after your name. I’m just bein’ real, as Randy Jackson would say.

On May 13th, 2010 I went to work as an ADN and on May 14th I went to work as a BSN. My pay was exactly the same. My patient assignment was exactly the same. My name tag now said “RN, BSN” and I received a heartfelt “Congratulations!” from my co-workers that night and my boss in the morning. [crickets]

The immediate external rewards were few.

The internal rewards are innumerable:

  • A sense of accomplishment. I have a stunning diploma that I still stare at with a stupid grin every time I enter the den. I am so proud of the work, dedication and stamina that went into actually earning that BSN after 31 years of nursing.
  • A better understanding of the complexity of our health care system and nursing’s place in that system. My perspective has broadened, my public health experience linked health disparities to economic and educational disparities in a clear, visceral fashion. Anyone can learn about it. My program educated me on what can be done about it.
  • A heightened sense of professionalism. I’ve always been professional. I am now a Professional. It’s hard to describe, most of these intrinsic changes are, but there is something in the BSN curriculum that broadens the understanding of Nursing as a profession, the place of Nursing in health care and the place of individual nurses as health care leaders.
  • A better nurse. I was good before. I’m better now. I see the whole picture. I thought I saw the whole picture, but I didn’t know enough to know what the whole picture was. It’s like playing Angry Birds on an iPhone. You can be great at it, but then you get an iPad and you see things you didn’t know were there. You know what to shoot for. You know where to aim to hit the Pig.


Okay, that was a little simplistic.

What I’m trying to say is this: the rewards that come from getting an advanced degree in nursing are going to be intrinsic, at least at the beginning. The better opportunities, the offers you could not consider before, those will come later. At first, you are going to have to want this for you.

Your coworkers, your manager, your employer, they will think it is very nice. And that’s the last you will hear of it. Or they will tell you you’re nuts for spending the money for nothing, that they have better things to do with their time and their paycheck.

I will tell you that you will experience an unbelievable personal and professional growth that you cannot even imagine right now. I can’t even explain it because it is different for each one of us. And that’s just what you will get out of it.

It’s a win-win situation. You get personal growth. The nursing profession wins through your education.

Now multiply that by every single patient you take care of for the rest of your career.

Now tell me it isn’t worth it.

It’s so worth it I’m onto an MSN in September!

What are you waiting for?


Committee On The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative On The Future Of Nursing, At The Institute Of Medicine (2011). Transforming Education. In The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. (pp. 163-220). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.


  • Adrienne

    March 22, 2011 at 3:36 am

    I’m entering a BScN in the fall, but as a new nurse. Thanks for the inspiration – and congratulations! – now I’m even more excited! Oh and can I still have a cape? They’re adorable.

  • Gracie

    March 22, 2011 at 8:16 am


    I really enjoyed this blog post. I’ve always been curious as to how ADN’s and BSN’s were perceived in the workplace. One question I have for you- you said one day you came to work ADN and the next BSN and your salary did not change. I was under the impression RN, BSN required a higher salary than ADN?

  • New Nurse

    March 22, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Love this post!!

    We all need to exlore our ambitions, whatever they may be!!

  • RehabRN

    March 22, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    My husband told me if I was going to spend so much time trying to get into nursing, I should just get a BSN and start there.

    He was so right! I wouldn’t be anywhere I am today without it. And I’ll keep on going until the MSN is done. There are more than just management jobs for MSNs and I’m so happy.

    Yes, I do feel professional, not better than anyone, mind you, just professional. Bring it on!

  • Stephanie Wilborne

    March 22, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Great blog post and comments.

    I am a 2nd generation nurse. My mom insisted that I graduate with a BSN. She had found it very difficult to go from an LPN to RN and then pursue her BSN. It was much easier to go back for my NP with a BSN.

    Yes, I still miss the ICU:(

  • sarah g

    March 25, 2011 at 3:52 am

    nurses are continually learning; whether reading up on something old or new, etc. it makes since that nurses would seek higher degrees.

  • The Nerdy Nurse

    March 27, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Will be interesting to see if that 80% is reached. Most of the nurses I know, almost all of them ADN prepared, have no desire to pursue further education.
    I encourage and tell them all the great things it can do for them and nursing, and they have no interested. They state there will be no benefit for them, their pocketbooks, and that feel they are “good enough”… whatever that means.
    I think we need to encourage continued education, rather in be at the college level, CEs, or whatever else. We cannot become complacent in assuming we “know enough” or are “Good enough”

  • Beth

    March 28, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Thank you for posting this. I teach in a RN-BSN program where I get questioned about this topic all the time. May I use your comments in a handout to students? It is so much better than anything I’ve seen in books/journals/etc. I am really impressed with your definition of “Professional” vs. “professional”. Students struggle with this all the time.

  • Doctor

    March 31, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Don’t assault patients or allow doctors to assault patients. Demand better from the American medical system which is presently a dangerous disgrace.

  • Michele Roberts

    April 2, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Congratulations, everything you said in this blog regarding the value of having a BSN is TRUE!
    I will be done after 15 more credits, it feels awesome to be so close to the proverbial light 🙂

    BTW – I am completely addicted to your blog – you are awesome!

  • Michael Kim

    April 27, 2011 at 7:28 am

    This post is fun and informative. I especially loved the “geeky” find of the caped crusader nurse photo. 🙂

    Thank you for your insight.

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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