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Why should I get my bachelor’s in nursing?

Nurses earn their license to practice by successfully passing the NCLEX, or National Council Licensure Examination. But there are many academic pathways to becoming a registered nurse, and students often wonder: if a bachelor’s degree isn’t required for my RN license, why should I earn it?

Here are a few reasons to get your BSN:

1. It’s required by your state or employer.

Depending on where you live or work, you might be required to hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Two nurses stand at a Nurses Station and talk to a nurse behind the desk.
Earning your BSN can open up new career possibilities and increase your positive impact on patients.

For RN-BS student Tate Klacsmann, “it’s not a matter of if you want to go back to get a bachelor’s, it’s just a matter of when,” he said.

Klacsmann lives in New York, a state requiring nurses to earn their bachelor’s within ten years of licensure.

While your state might not mandate it, some employers do. Facilities often require their new nurses to earn their BSN within a certain period of time of being hired. Usually this is because existing research indicates that bachelor’s-level preparation is tied to better patient outcomes.

Hospitals employing more bachelor’s-prepared nurses also have reduced lengths of stay and lower mortality rates for their patients. Additionally, Magnet hospitals can only earn that prestigious designation if their nurses have bachelor’s degrees.

2. Expand your knowledge and impact patients.

A bachelor’s degree gets you more than just a few extra letters after your name, and coursework covers nursing concepts more in-depth than associates programs.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing describes BSN nurses as “prized for their skills in critical thinking, leadership, case management, and health promotion, and for their ability to practice across a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings.”

Klacsmann is dual-enrolled in an associates degree program, and he was pleasantly surprised by his healthy aging class. The material is “not really emphasized at the associate’s level,” he said. “I ended up really liking that course.”

A man studies on a laptop at a break room table with a sink in the background and a water bottle that reads "Bronco Nurse" in the foreground.
Boise State’s Online RN-BS Completion program equips nurses to be familiar with current research and evidence-based practices.

He’s also grateful for the research training he’s received from Boise State’s Online RN-BS Completion program.

“We don’t do a lot of research at the associate’s level, but anytime we do, I cite my things all correctly and my professors are always extremely impressed,” Klacsmann said.

Alissa Godinez (‘24) is a Boise State alum who also gained a new appreciation for evidence-based practice because of her RN-BS courses. She learned to “understand the why” behind her work as a nurse.

“The National Library of Medicine is your best friend in this program,” Godinez said. “You have to cite everything under the sun…but it’s really nice, because now I use that in my practice, even when patients ask me a question.”

Instead of relying on general online search engines, Godinez points patients toward the same scholarly databases she used in class, like the National Library of Medicine. She has also shown patients where to find relevant information within academic articles, helping them understand the research and what it means for their lives.

“You can Google anything nowadays, right?” she said. “It’s been really nice to actually see ‘Okay, this is the actual research that was done to get to this point.’”

3. Launch your career.

Pursue advanced practice nursing

Godinez earned her ADN from the College of Eastern Idaho and chose to pursue her bachelor’s by dual-enrolling in the RN-BS program. She selected Boise State with an eye to the future, thinking about the possibility of graduate school after earning her bachelor’s.

“I really wanted to make sure I was going somewhere that was either AACN or CCNE accredited,” she said. “For me that was the biggest thing, because no [nurse practitioner] program will take you without AACN or CCNE accreditation,” she said.

Godinez appreciated the program’s flexibility, choosing to take as many classes as she could over the summer even though that’s typically a season of relaxation. “I wanted to get it done because I wanted to apply for graduate school,” she said.

Looking back, she now considers the ability to complete her bachelor’s in only a year-and-a-half the most rewarding part of the program.

“Everyone in the RN-BS program is so supportive, too,” she added.

Take on leadership roles

For alum Misti Leavitt (‘12), the ability to hold leadership positions played a critical role in deciding to earn her bachelor’s.

Leavitt had been on her unit at Saint Alphonsus for about ten years when she considered going back to school.

Two women work on laptops together at a table.
RN-BS alumni say they most appreciated the flexibility of Boise State’s program. They could learn at a pace that fit their personal and professional responsibilities.

“I knew I needed to focus on getting my bachelor’s done before [my manager] retired so I would have the opportunity to become manager on my current unit,” Leavitt said.

Leavitt began the online RN-BS completion program at the same time as a co-worker at Saint Alphonsus.

“I loved that I had flexibility of getting my work done during the week on my days off and turned in by the end of the week,” she said. “I also loved doing projects from the real work I was doing on the floor at that time.”

Shortly after graduating the program in 2012, Leavitt became nurse manager of the medical oncology unit, which she credits for launching her career in nursing leadership.

“I recently moved into the CNO/VP of Operations role and it has brought on new experiences and opportunities to learn and grow,” Leavitt said, which is what she has “always loved about nursing.”

Is RN-BS for you?

Think you want to earn your bachelor’s degree in nursing? The Online RN-BS Completion program might be your next right step. It’s ideal for students who already hold their RN license as well as students enrolled in an associate’s degree program who will have their license soon.

Want to learn more? Connect with an advisor today.

Contact an RN-BS advisor