Why RN to BSN Programs Are Increasingly Popular

Colorado Mesa offers a high-quality RN to BSN program online.

The aging population of the U.S. and recent expansion of healthcare coverage to more citizens due to healthcare reform are two of the factors fueling the projected nursing shortage in this country. However, it is not just a shortage of nurses in general, but a growing need for BSN-prepared nurses who can competently tackle technological and professional challenges that is pushing many employers to emphasize the importance of RN to BSN programs.

Calls for increased higher education for RNs, such as the one made in the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) 2010 report, “The Future of Nursing,” show that only about 55 percent of the current nursing workforce hold bachelor’s level or higher degrees. The IOM’s recommendation is for that number to increase to 80 percent by 2020. This recommendation has further increased the popularity of RN to BSN programs. The IOM became the National Academy of Medicine in July 2015.

Aging Workforce

Another reason for an increased demand for BSN-prepared nurses is the fact that the current nursing workforce is aging. More than half of working nurses in the United States are at least 50 years old, and the Health Resources and Services Administration says that more than one million currently practicing nurses will likely retire within the next 15 years.

Advantages of a BSN

The increasing popularity of RN to BSN programs reflects the understanding among healthcare professionals and patients alike of the high demands placed on nurses today. While there are many competent nurses who have achieved excellent skills through hospital diploma and associate degree programs, the importance of higher levels of education for nurses has become more apparent. As the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) points out, a BSN encompasses all the training RNs typically receive but goes further in helping to prepare nurses to understand and meet diverse health needs.

New Ways of Delivering Nursing Education

RNs can complete a BSN through traditional, campus-based programs or through accelerated online RN to BSN programs. With nearly 700 nursing programs nationwide, more than 400 of them offer at least part of the degree online. Some, including Colorado Mesa University, offer 100 percent online coursework. Enrollment has been increasing in online programs for more than a decade.

More qualified nurses lead to better health outcomes including lower mortality rates, better patient safety and more comprehensive care. With a shortage of qualified nurses and a growing demand for good healthcare, it is expected that many nurses will continue to take advantage of the availability of RN to BSN programs.

Learn more about the CMU online RN to BSN program.


AACN Fact Sheet on Degree Completion Programs for Nurses

Campaign for Action

National Workforce Survey of Registered Nurses

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