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What to Expect in an Online RN to BSN Program

Nurses preparing to enroll in an online registered nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program should know how these programs operate. With over 650 RN to BSN programs offered at least partially online, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), prospective students have many options. However, certain elements of this type of online study are common to most reputable programs, including the 100% online RN to BSN program offered by the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW).

Differences Between ADN and BSN Coursework

BSN coursework differs from associate degree in nursing (ADN) coursework in several regards. A primary difference is that BSN programs require a capstone course prior to graduation that applies comprehensive program knowledge to solving problems through identification, analysis, synthesis, plan implementation and evaluation.

Baccalaureate-level coursework also includes applying evidence-based practice through research in nursing — for example, evaluating evidence and basing decisions on research findings. In addition, BSN courses implement direct and indirect care practice exercises to bring real-world application to conceptual practices.

Clinical Requirements: A Pathway to Direct Care Practice

Though clinical requirements vary considerably from one online RN to BSN program to another, they all comprise some portion of the degree program. In fact, 60 hours of clinical work per course is not uncommon. However, UNCW’s online RN to BSN program does not have a required number of clinical work hours. Clinical practice experiences are integrated into various course assignments throughout the program.

Practical Considerations of an Online RN to BSN Program

RN to BSN programs vary greatly in cost, depending on factors like in-state discounts, per-credit-hour tuition and additional fees. Online RN to BSN programs typically require two years to complete, but some accelerated options, such as UNCW’s, reduce program duration to as few as 12 months. Many online programs are flexible enough to offer working nurses the ability to earn a BSN part time. By continuing to work and make a full-time wage while earning a BSN online, nurses can avoid the substantial opportunity costs associated with less flexible on-campus programs.

BSN courses differ from ADN coursework in several ways, and the advanced training they offer can improve nurses’ career opportunities. Employers look favorably upon nurses with BSN degrees; some healthcare systems like the Veteran’s Administration and Magnet hospitals now require a BSN for advancement to mid-level or managerial positions. In fact, AACN reports that 25% of hospitals and other healthcare settings require that all new-hire nurses hold a bachelor’s degree, and nearly 70% of employers strongly prefer it.

RNs eager to advance their nursing education can take comfort in the knowledge that, despite which program they choose, they will share a knowledge base common to all accredited, high-quality RN to BSN programs.

Learn more about the UNCW online RN to BSN program.

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