The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (October 2017)
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN, BScN) also known in some countries as a Bachelor of Nursing (BN) or Bachelor of Science (BS) with a Major in Nursing is an academic degree in the science and principles of nursing, granted by an accredited tertiary education provider. The course of study is typically three or four years. The difference in degree designation may relate to the amount of basic science courses required as part of the degree, with BScN and BSN degree curriculums requiring completion of more courses on math and natural sciences that are more typical of BSc degrees (e.g. calculus, physics, chemistry, biology) and BN curriculums more focused on nursing theory, nursing process, and teaching versions of general science topics that are adapted to be more specific and relevant to nursing practice. Nursing school students are generally required to take courses in social and behavioral sciences and liberal arts, including nutrition, anatomy, chemistry, mathematics, and English. In addition to those courses, experience in physical and social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking is required for a bachelor's degree. BSN programs typically last 2-4 years. Someone who holds a BSN can work in private or public medical and surgical hospitals, physician's offices, home health care services, and nursing facilities. Having a BSN can result in more opportunities and better salary than just an associate degree.
The bachelor's degree prepares nurses for a wide variety of professional roles and graduate study. Course work includes nursing science, research, leadership, and related areas that inform the practice of nursing. It also provides the student with general education in math, humanities and social sciences. An undergraduate degree affords opportunities for greater career advancement and higher salary options. It is often a prerequisite for teaching, administrative, consulting and research roles.
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is not currently required for entry into professional nursing in all countries. In the US, there has been an effort for it to become the entry-level degree since 1964, when the American Nurses Association (ANA) advanced the position that the minimum preparation for beginning professional nursing practice should be a baccalaureate degree education in nursing. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) affirmed in 2010 that nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) are the accreditation bodies for Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs in the United States. Both Commissions are officially recognized as national accreditation agencies that ensure quality standards for undergraduate to graduate nursing programs by the United States Secretary of Education.
Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs allow those who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field to obtain their nursing degree at an accelerated rate, which is why they are also commonly referred to as "Second Degree Nursing Programs." These programs usually have strict prerequisites because the program coursework focuses solely on nursing. Accelerated BSN programs are typically anywhere from 12-24 months.
These programs are intended specifically for nurses with a diploma or associate degree in nursing who wish to "top-up" their current academic qualifications to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. In order to keep the programs up-to-date and relevant to the current healthcare system, the course material is updated regularly with feedback from registered nurses, nurse managers, healthcare professionals and even patients.
Among nurse educators, arguments continue about the ideal balance of practical preparation and the need to educate the future practitioner to manage healthcare and to have a broader view of the practice. To meet both requirements, nurse education aims to develop a lifelong learner who can adapt effectively to changes in both the theory and practice of nursing. Degree programs were created in the 1950s and 1960s to quickly fix the nursing shortage, and while today there is still a nursing shortage concern due to the fact that the current nursing census is made up of more than 50% of nurses above the age of 55 years old and upon retiring will create a huge nursing deficit, there is still the aim to promote higher level educated nurses at the entry level into one's nursing career. "Recent changes in the scope of nursing practice have many hospitals are looking to select only BSN-trained nurses and are requiring current AD nurses to further their education to acquire the BSN degree. Magnet hospitals typically employ greater numbers of BSN-prepared nurses and currently require that all nurse managers and nurse leaders hold degrees at the BSN level or higher."
In 2011, The Institute of Medicine recommended that by 2020, 80 percent of RNs hold a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. This was also noted in a report titled: Institute of Medicine's report on the Future of Nursing, and has been followed by a campaign to implement its recommendations. In this report a 2nd recommendation was made to focus on increasing the proportion of registered nurses (RNs) with a baccalaureate degree to 80% by 2020. Towards that effort the report recommends that educational associations, colleges, delivery organizations, governmental organizations, and funders develop the resources necessary to support this goal. These recommendations are consistent with other policy initiatives currently underway; for example, legislation requiring that nurses receive a baccalaureate degree within 10 years of initial licensure has been considered in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
There are numerous states that are looking to propose a "BSN-in-10" legislation in order to increase the number of BSN-prepared nurses. "This legislation would require newly licensed AD or diploma nurses to earn a BSN within 10 years of initial licensure." The Department of Health and Human Services have noted that they feel that in light of the fact that many RN-to-BSN programs offer distance learning options, the 10-year deadline is thought to be appropriate.
Many of these recommendations are being driven by recent studies regarding patient outcomes and nursing education. Hospitals employing higher percentages of BSN-prepared nurses have shown an associated decrease in morbidity, mortality, and failure-to-rescue rates. Increasing the percentage of BSN nurses employed decreases by 10 percent the 30-day inpatient mortality and failure-to-rescue rates. Studies that provide this type of evidence-based practice encompass the ultimate purpose of a higher level of educated nurse workforce. It adds to support the ultimate mission of the Texas Board of Nursing (BON or Board), which is to protect and promote the welfare of the people of Texas by ensuring that each person holding a license as a nurse in this state is competent to practice safely.
In an effort to improve patient outcomes, boost quality and lower costs healthcare leaders and institutions have increased expectations for evidence-based practice (EBP). The Institute of Medicine (IOM) aim is that 90% of clinical decisions will be evidence-based by 2020 (IOM, 2010). As the largest group of healthcare providers, nurses have a pivotal role in meeting this goal.