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How BSN Programs Expand an RN’s Knowledge

According to the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP), a bachelor of science in nursing prepares nurses to manage care along a continuum, working as peers within interdisciplinary teams. In this fashion, nurses can integrate clinical expertise with knowledge of community resources.

Such practice requires critical thinking and problem-solving skills; a sound foundation in a broad range of basic sciences; knowledge of behavioral, social and management sciences; and the ability to analyze and communicate data.

Among the three types of entry-level nursing education programs, NACNEP found that a BSN program with its broader scientific curriculum best fulfills these requirements and provides sound training for today’s complex healthcare needs.

On Course for Success

The biggest difference between a diploma- or associate-degree-registered nurse (RN) and one with a BSN is the bank of knowledge that informs their decision-making. The University of North Carolina Wilmington’s RN to BSN program offers coursework common to industry-standard nursing baccalaureate programs — for example, a focus on evidence-based practice.

Pathophysiology and Pharmacological Evidence-Based Care is one course the program offers, which builds on basic knowledge of pathophysiology and pharmacology to enhance nursing management of health, wellness and disease. The course also analyzes current pharmacology-based research and best practice clinical practice guidelines to develop evidence-based practice. Case studies involving physiological, pathophysiological and pharmacological concepts explain the rationale behind treatment decisions.

Modern Healthcare and Cultural Awareness

A BSN program will also cover content that addresses nursing from population- and community-health standpoints. Students explore topics like social and ecological determinants of health through ethics, public policy, health education, epidemiology, leadership and case management.

Of particular interest are case studies demonstrating evidence-based culturally sensitive practice, highlighting how cultural awareness can affect healthcare delivery to underrepresented populations. By showcasing the values and belief systems influencing the health behaviors of culturally diverse groups, an RN to BSN program can teach nurses to recognize the cultural, social, political and economic forces that influence their patients’ access to healthcare resources.

To help students apply this knowledge to effective care, some schools also require a capstone project that challenges students to rely on their coursework in an active field experience that ultimately contributes to an e-portfolio.

A First Step in Continuing Education

Many consider an RN to BSN program a springboard to a nursing career because BSN coursework introduces research design and analysis necessary to examine and apply nursing science. Students will synthesize results from recent studies and conclude how those results can affect their practice. The courses also provide an overview of current issues in healthcare and how evidence-based practice and research has affected nursing in recent years.

Critical thinking skills and core knowledge have made BSN programs a subject of interest. Research teams, for instance, have found that patients who received 80 percent or more of their care from BSN-prepared nurses had 18.7 percent lower odds of readmission and 1.9 percent shorter lengths of stay. These findings and others support a transition to a new kind of nursing workforce — one that leverages evidence-based practice to improve the ever-developing healthcare landscape.

Learn more about the UNCW online RN to BSN program.


AACN: Baccalaureate Nursing Programs

AACN: The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: The Business Case for Having At Least 80 Percent of Nurses Hold Bachelor’s Degrees

AACN: The Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing as Minimal Preparation for Professional Practice

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