RN vs. BSN: What Difference Can It Make for My Nursing Career?

RN vs. BSN: What Difference Can It Make for My Nursing Career?If you are serious about pursuing a career in nursing, then before moving forward with these aspirations, you need to decide whether you plan to earn either an RN or BSN. Earning a quality RN diploma or associate’s degree in nursing can be done in as little as 2 years, while a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) will take 4 years on average. Both degree programs can help you successfully become a registered nurse, but there are some differences between the two degrees in terms of your career potential. Here’s what you need to know before working toward earning either a RN diploma or a BSN.

Typical Roles and Responsibilities

Whether you hold a registered nurse degree or BSN, in both cases you will be playing a meaningful role in the lives of patients and directly care for them. You’ll be responsible for administering medication, monitoring patient symptoms, and updating their medical charts. A traditional RN job also includes operating medical equipment and educating patients and their families about their condition. Comparatively, a BSN will be responsible for a few additional complex procedures under the supervision of doctors and are more likely to be in charge of the nursing staff. With more advanced levels of education, the more leadership responsibilities you could earn as you advance in your career. With a BSN, there are more opportunities to work in certain specializations.

Educational Differences

The major difference between an RN and BSN is the length of time it takes to complete each program. BSN programs most commonly have twice the amount of credit hours required to graduate, thus are more expensive and time-consuming. With an associate’s degree program, you can start your career more quickly in as little as 2 years. Meanwhile, BSN programs offer more extensive clinical experience and can go further in-depth in your respective courses of study. BSN degrees support a more holistic education curriculum with courses also emphasizing the social sciences, management, research, and leadership aspects of the nursing field. This educational background will give you a much better base to understand the social, cultural, and economic issues that affect the lives of patients and the healthcare system as a whole.

Abounding Job Opportunities and Salary Potential

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of nursing is continuing to grow significantly with job openings increasing by 16% within the next 10 years. As the population continues to grow and age, our society will continue to need qualified nurses and medical practitioners now more than ever. Whether you possess an RN or BSN, your expected income will likely be well above the national average within a few years of working.

To attain a higher annual salary, specialization and experience both play a critical role. If you earn your BSN, in comparison to just an Associate’s, there are many more opportunities to specialize and attain higher positions within your healthcare institution. It is estimated that approximately 51% of nursing job opportunities require an associate’s degree with an additional 37% requiring a BSN at a minimum to succeed on the job. If you are interested in teaching or working in an administrative role, then it is best to work towards a BSN.

Emerging Trend toward BSN Requirements

While there are currently many job openings requiring only an associate’s degree, BSN degrees have come in high demand. The Institute of Medicine is currently recommending that the number of nurses who possess a BSN should increase from 50% to 80% within a few years. There has even been a proposed law stating that nurses who don’t possess a BSN degree should earn one within 10 years of practice. While this possibility is just speculation, it’s an important idea to keep in mind while deciding which degree program is best for you.

A BSN Degree Can Make You Better Qualified

Obtaining a BSN degree could perhaps make you more qualified to succeed on the job and improve your quality of care for patients. Additional educational experience, thorough curriculums, and extensive clinical hours can make a meaningful impact. One recent study out of the University of Michigan found that a 10% increase in the proportion of BSN nurses working within a hospital was associated with a possible 10.9% decrease in patient mortality. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has also discovered positive outcomes when increasing numbers of nurses pursue a BSN. Multiple research studies suggest that earning a BSN can improve your abilities to proficiently diagnosis patients and implement quality interventions.

Pursue Incredibly Rewarding Career Paths

Whether you are seeking to earn your degree more quickly and start working right away or take part in a few more years of classes, both a RN degree and BSN will provide you with the vital skills, knowledge, and academic credentials needed to succeed in the medical profession. Making a direct impact on the health and well being of others as a nurse can be a highly rewarding and fulfilling career path for millions around the globe. If you start working immediately after your RN degree is awarded, you could always go back to school and earn your bachelor’s. Whatever educational opportunity you decide to pursue, FNU is here to help.

Earn a Quality RN or BSN Degree from Florida National University

At Florida National University, we offer a number of quality degree programs in the medical field including both an Associate of Science in Nursing program and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Both programs will prepare you to succeed both personally and professionally for many years to come. If you’re interested in learning more about either program, don’t hesitate to contact an FNU advisor right away.

FNU Accreditation


The baccalaureate degree program in nursing at Florida National University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org).


The master’s degree program in nursing at Florida National University is pursuing initial accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org.) Applying for accreditation does not guarantee that accreditation will be granted.