Bachelor's degree programs in nursing can help individuals gain or advance their skills in patient care while working toward a degree, which is usually offered as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN. Depending on the school, students with previous nursing experience may have the option of pursuing an accelerated program. Schools generally provide accelerated nursing programs as an RN to BSN or an LPN/LVN to BSN degree, which may take one to two years for full-time students. Before entering degree programs students typically need to have already completed prerequisite courses, such as anatomy, physiology, and microbiology.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Nursing: Coursework and Overview for the Accelerated Track
Students in accelerated nursing degree programs take a variety of electives and, depending on the program, may need to fulfill clinical work requirements. Although curriculum varies by school, there are several courses that overlap. Below are some examples:
- Nursing Care for Adults: Students review skills in nursing care and health assessments of adults and oftentimes elderly adults. Depending on the program, individuals may examine care processes for adults with acute and/or chronic health conditions.
- Nursing Care for Children and Families: Students are exposed to family-centered practices in providing nursing care to infants, children, and adolescents. Courses often cover health promotion and health problems in children.
- Nursing Care for Childbearing Families: Courses explore concepts and applications of the nursing process for women and their families throughout the childbearing process. Common topics include pregnancy-related health concerns for both the mother and child.
- Nursing Ethics: Students discuss and analyze ethical issues pertaining to nurses and other health care professionals. For example, individuals may study patient rights.
- Community Health Nursing: Students apply epidemiology and public health principles when determining how to assess and preserve population and community health.
Potential Careers for Individuals with a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing
Clinical and theoretical course requirements help prepare students for a variety of nursing careers. While a bachelor's degree cannot guarantee job placement, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that it may improve one's employment prospects.
Below are some careers toward which individuals may be able to apply their degree:
- Addiction nurses work with patients dealing with drug, alcohol and other substance addictions. More general responsibilities may include providing treatment and medicine to patients and assisting with and analyzing diagnostic tests. In health assessment and pharmacology courses, students can determine how to assess a patient's health and administer medication.
- Neonatology nurses care for newborn children. Additional responsibilities may include describing post-treatment procedures to patients, operating and monitoring medical equipment, and explaining disease symptoms and warning signs to the public. Students interested in neonatal nursing may develop specialized, relevant skills through courses in child and childbearing nursing. Community health and nursing technology courses, where available, can help prepare students for the more general responsibilities of nursing.
- Nurse-midwives assist women with family-planning advice, gynecological tests, prenatal care, and child delivery. They also help care for newborns. By taking nursing courses in childbearing, students can examine best care practices and potential health issues for pregnant women and newborn children. According to bls.gov, nurse-midwife positions typically require at least a master's degree.
- Clinical nurse specialists offer direct patient care and consultations in a specific nursing specialty. Individuals interested in this career may benefit from courses geared toward their desired concentration. For example, nurses specializing in psychiatric-mental health can study effective techniques in dealing with patients through psychology and mental health nursing courses. Required clinical work in BSN programs can also help students gain experience in delivering patient care. The BLS states that individuals in this career generally need a master's degree.
Instead of pursuing a career immediately, students may want to continue their education after earning their BSN degree. A master's degree in nursing may expand an individual's employment opportunities. For example, bls.gov mentions that Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) typically need a master's degree. Schools may also offer combined bachelor's and master's degree programs in nursing. Students interested in furthering their nursing education can speak with an admissions counselor to assess their qualifications and determine next steps.
Additional details regarding accelerated BSN degree programs can be found in the Guide to College Majors in Nursing: RN to BSN.
American Nurses Association, http://www.nursingworld.org/default.aspx
"Registered Nurses," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm