If you’re questioning whether a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree program is right for you, weigh the benefits. Earning a bachelor’s degree can improve a current or aspiring registered nurse (RN)’s career in several ways. Here are just five of the most important reasons RNs pursue a bachelor’s degree.

1. Prepare for Future Requirements

Today, you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to get your first entry-level nursing job. A diploma or associate’s degree (ADN) is sufficient preparation to become a registered nurse, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, there’s no guarantee things will stay that way.

Many professional associations are pushing for more nurses to have BSNs. Some are recommending that the BSN become the minimum requirement for entry-level positions, while others recommend that RNs who enter the field attain a bachelor’s degree within 10 years. Already, many states are considering making this recommendation state law, reported Monster.com’s Nursing Link. For candidates who won’t be earning their degrees for some time – for example, those who plan to study nursing part-time – these requirements might be in effect by the time they begin their careers. Even for current nurses who are grandfathered in, having only a diploma or ADN when all of your colleagues have bachelor’s degrees may make career advancement difficult.

2. Make More Money

Who doesn’t want to make more money? Earning a BSN can increase your salary somewhat in and of itself. More importantly, it can help you attain positions where the earning potential is significantly higher than the entry-level nursing roles available to RNs with diplomas and ADNs.

3. Be a Better Nurse

What makes the truly great nurses stand out? They strive to provide the best care. Studies have linked an increased number of nurses with BSN degrees to better patient outcomes – including decreases in mortality rates, Nursing Link reported. Aspiring nurses in BSN programs spend twice as much time studying as those in ADN programs, so they have the opportunity to cover coursework in fields like nursing innovations, informatics, health assessment, abnormal psychology, holistic nursing and geriatrics. Throughout their studies, they cultivate skills in management, leadership, critical thinking and communication – important, though non-technical, skills for success in the field.

4. Prepare for Your Master’s Degree

If becoming a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthesiologist or nurse midwife is your ultimate career goal, then you’re going to need a graduate degree, anyway. Why not earn your BSN now so that you’ll meet the prerequisites necessary to start your graduate studies?

5. Open New Doors

Some nursing roles, both in hospitals and in non-hospital settings, now require candidates with a BSN. Some of the most sought-after nursing jobs, like nurse educator positions at community colleges, are only available to bachelor’s degree-holders. A BSN can improve your marketability to help you get the job you want – including jobs that weren’t available to you before earning the degree.

Also see:

Top 10 Most Affordable Online RN to BSN Programs