What Can I Do With a BSN Degree?

Summary: A BSN is your ticket to endless career opportunities in the nursing profession. You can do a lot with a BSN degree. It can take your career into different practice settings, from hospitals to urgent care clinics, and different nursing specialties, from flight nurses to urology nurses.

Image of helicopter in sky with text "nursing careers: the skys the lini."

Nursing has changed significantly over the past decade. Everything from education options to career diversity has evolved. It used to be that you could get a job with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) with no problem. And while it’s still possible, most health care employers prefer to hire nursing graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Before we go any further, it’s also worth mentioning that the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recognizes a BSN as the minimum education requirement for professional practice.

You ask, what can I do with a BSN degree? That’s a great question, with an even better answer. When you have a BSN, the sky’s the limit. This post explores the diverse settings and specialty areas that employ baccalaureate-level nurses. We’ll also discuss why it matters where you get your nursing degree, and what makes our 16-month ABSN program a great second-degree option.

Where Do Nurses Work?

Nursing is one of the most diverse professions available today. And the more education you have, the more opportunities there are for career advancement.

Having a BSN degree allows you to practice the profession in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings. You can also choose to pursue certification in any number of specialty areas.

While hospitals are the largest employers of nurses, you’ll find registered nurses hard at work wherever there’s a need for patient care. Work settings include:

  • Correctional Facilities
  • Corporate Clinics
  • Cruise Ships
  • Military Bases
  • Nursing Homes
  • Patient Homes
  • Private Practices
  • School Systems
  • Urgent Care Clinics

There are also travel nurses contracted to work in any one of the above settings. Because of COVID-19, these nomad nurses are traveling like never before ― many hopping from one city to another to help combat surges of coronavirus cases. In this New York Times article, you’ll see firsthand what it’s like for travel nurses racing behind a devastating pandemic.

Lastly, a BSN enables you to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in the future. With this advanced degree and the proper specialty certification, you have access to some of the highest-paying jobs in nursing ― such as a nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, and clinical nurse specialist.

Did You Know?

According to the AACN website, studies have shown that nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level have stronger communication and problem-solving skills. They also have higher proficiency in their ability to make nursing diagnoses and evaluate nursing interventions.

Types of Nurses

In addition to diverse employment settings, registered nurses can choose to work in a specialized area of practice. For instance, you could work with patients within a specific age group or patients of all ages who have issues with a particular organ or body system. Below are just some of the different nursing specialties that are out there.

Cardiac Care Nurse

Working closely with cardiologists, these nurses provide cardiac care to patients of all ages in hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities. The patients they serve have heart disease or related conditions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. As a result, cardiac care nurses are in high demand. To specialize in this area of practice, you need an ADN or a BSN, a registered nurse license, relevant work experience, and cardiac-vascular nursing certification.

Family Nurse Practitioner

One of several specialty areas available to nurse practitioners, FNPs are advanced practiced nurses who provide comprehensive and continuous primary care to individuals and families across the lifespan. These nurses are some of the most compassionate and intimately connected providers in healthcare. After all, many of these nurses have the opportunity to care for a patient from early childhood through adulthood. FNPs typically work in physician offices, clinics, and community centers. To become an FNP, you need an MSN, a license to practice, relevant work experience, and the proper NP certification.

6 Steps to Becoming a Nurse Practitioner With a Non-nursing Bachelor’s Degree

Becoming a nurse practitioner with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree takes about five years to complete if you choose accelerated program options, otherwise, it will take around seven to eight years to complete. 

Flight Nurse

Working with paramedics and other medical professionals, flight nurses care for critically ill or injured patients in transit to a trauma center by aircraft. With most every flight being an emergency, these nurses must think fast and work well under pressure. To become a flight nurse, you need an ADN or a BSN, a registered nurse license, critical care work experience, and certification in emergency nursing.

Forensic Nurse

Working as part of the criminal justice system, forensic nurses care for victims of sexual abuse, violence, and assault. These nurses gather evidence and testify on behalf of patients in court. Many times, these nurses are the go-betweens for patients, families, social services, and law enforcement. To become a forensic nurse, you need an ADN or a BSN, a registered nurse license, relevant work experience, and certification as a sexual assault nurse examiner.

Gastroenterology Nurse

These nurses help care for patients who have disorders or illnesses involving the gastrointestinal tract or digestive system. Working alongside nutritionists, they also teach their patients how to control digestive issues through diet. Gastroenterology nurses serve patients of all ages in settings that include hospitals, private practices, and surgery centers. To become one of these nurses, you need an ADN or a BSN, a registered nurse license, relevant work experience, and certification in gastroenterology nursing.

Geriatric Nurse

Geriatric nurses assist doctors with the mental and physical care of elderly patients at high risk for injury and disease. To help their patients live the best life possible, these nurses work hard to keep them mobile and independent. Geriatric nurses work in settings that include nursing homes, retirement centers, outpatient care centers, and patient homes. To become one of these nurses, you need an ADN or a BSN, a registered nurse license, relevant work experience, and certification in geriatric nursing.

Managed Care Nurse

Serving society’s most vulnerable, managed care nurses help elderly and underserved patients on government-funded healthcare plans stay as healthy as possible. These nurses are often the liaisons between patients and government agencies. Working in hospitals, telephone triage centers and for health insurance companies, these nurses keep tabs on the physical, emotional, and psychological state of their patients, ensuring they receive the right care. To become a managed care nurse, you need an ADN or a BSN, a registered nurse license, and managed care nursing certification.

Missionary Nurse

Working through humanitarian groups or religious non-profit organizations, missionary nurses travel the world to care for patients in underdeveloped countries. They help people who have limited access to healthcare and resources such as medicine, vaccinations, and clean drinking water. Additionally, these nurses provide spiritual support to individuals in the communities they serve. To become one of these nurses, you need an ADN or a BSN and a registered nurse license to practice. Because certification in missionary nursing doesn’t exist, it’s helpful to have life support certification from the Red Cross.

Nephrology Nurse

This type of nurse works with patients who have kidney problems, from kidney disease to abnormal kidney function. They carry out treatment plans such as dialysis and acute care. These nurses work in diverse settings, including hospitals, clinics, physician offices, and patient homes. They’re also placed in transplant units to care for patients who receive new kidneys. To become a nephrology nurse, you need an ADN or a BSN, a registered nurse license, relevant work experience, and certification in nursing dialysis.

Nurse Midwife

These advanced practice nurses specialize in women’s reproductive health and childbirth. And with many women with low-risk pregnancies preferring at-home births, nurse midwives are in high demand. These nurses guide these women through their prenatal visits, labor and delivery, and postpartum counseling. To become a nurse-midwife, you need a master’s level nursing education that includes relevant courses, a license to practice, and certification in nursing midwifery.

Obstetrics Nurse

OB/GYN nurses are in high demand. They care for women during pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, as well as patients with reproductive health issues. These nurses also assist doctors in performing prenatal screenings and mammograms. Obstetric nurses work in settings that include hospitals, community clinics, private practices, and gynecology offices. To specialize in this area of practice, you need an ADN or a BSN, a registered nurse license, relevant work experience, and certification in obstetric nursing.

Urology Nurse

These nurses care for patients with health conditions and diseases related to the urinary system, including kidney stones and bladder infections. They also spend time guiding their patients on topics such as preventive care and proper hygiene. Urology nurses work in settings that include hospitals, physician offices, and outpatient care centers. To become one of these nurses, you need an ADN or a BSN, a registered nurse license, relevant work experience, and certification in urology nursing.

Practice Nursing by Land, Sea, or Air. Northeastern University

The field of nursing is more diverse than ever. There are so many nursing careers outside of the hospital and knowing your options is key to starting your career path.

Unconventional Jobs for Nurses

While most nursing employment surrounds direct patient care, there are several unconventional jobs for nurses who no longer wish to be at the bedside.

Informatics Nurse

These nurses help design, test, and implement information and communication technologies that use medical data to improve patient outcomes. Managing various technology-based projects, informatics nurses rely on their analytical skills and critical thinking to innovatively solve problems. They work in settings that include hospitals, healthcare consulting firms, IT companies, and nursing schools. To become one of these nurses, you need a BSN, a registered nurse license, relevant work experience, and certification as an informatics nurse.

Legal Nurse Consultant

These nurses work as medical experts in legal cases, helping lawyers understand healthcare-related issues, medical technology, and medical terminology. Working as a legal nurse consultant allows for schedule flexibility and varied work environments such as insurance agencies and hospitals. To become a consultant, you need an ADN or a BSN, a registered nurse license, relevant work experience, and certification as a legal nurse consultant.

Nurse Educator

Readying the next generation of nurses, these educators work at teaching hospitals and higher learning institutions. They teach, mentor, and evaluate nursing students, which includes overseeing them as they apply their skills in lab and clinical settings. Also, nurse educators often speak at nursing conferences. To teach nursing, you need an MSN, a license to practice, work experience, and the proper certification.

Nurse Writer

Contributing to educational materials, articles, books, and Hollywood scripts that involve nursing, these writers are always in high demand. After all, the healthcare field is in a continuous state of change. To become a nurse author, you need an ADN or a BSN, a registered nurse license, relevant work experience, and a flair for the written word.

icon resembling an Oscar

Hollywood Hoaxes
Even with the existence of nurse writers, Hollywood still gets the nursing role all wrong. Nurses aren’t backups for doctors, yet many on-screen portrayals would make you think so. It’s a total ruse when doctors are on the big screen sitting at the patient bedside or monitoring patient vitals—nurses do that! Plus, nurses don’t all do the same thing, but Tinseltown often presents them as one and the same.

Choosing a Nursing Specialty

Having not gone through nursing school, it’s tough to know what type of nurse you want to be. There are many students who come into our 16-month ABSN program wanting to specialize in a specific area of practice—only to graduate and go on to pursue something altogether different.

As an ABSN student, you’ll experience what it’s like to work in big-name hospitals and small suburban clinics caring for patients of all ages across the healthcare continuum. Your first clinical rotation will take place in the first semester of the program and focus on women and families. By the time you graduate, you’ll have practiced in areas that involve adult health, pediatrics, mental health, acute and critical care, and public health.

Choosing a nursing specialty isn’t always easy—especially when there are nearly 100 to choose from—but your experiences in nursing school should give you some direction as to where you might want to practice.

Choosing a Nursing School

Now that you have an idea of what you can do with a BSN degree, you need to find and apply to the nursing school and program that suits you best.

First and foremost, you need to choose an accredited nursing program. Being accredited means the program curriculum has been properly vetted by either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). It’s also important that the program has the approval of its respective state Board of Nursing.

Northeastern ABSN student - Shaelyn

“Northeastern is a great school with a great ABSN program. Employers are going to look at your application and know you have the right nursing education and that you’re prepared.”

―Shaelyn, ABSN Program Graduate

From there, you’ll want to check the nursing program’s National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®) pass rates and retention rates. If both come back as high percentage rates (85% to 100%), it shows the program is setting its students up for success. An accredited program with consistently low NCLEX pass rates runs the risk of losing its state Board of Nursing approval and accreditation status.

And don’t forget the admissions requirements. Every nursing school has a different set of admissions requirements, so make sure you’re eligible to apply. For example, if you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, you can apply to our 16-month ABSN program in Charlotte, North Carolina, or Burlington, Massachusetts (near Boston).

If you’re able to apply to our program, the following section covers what it’s like to be an accelerated nursing student at Northeastern University.

Northeastern ABSN Program Overview

Whether you enroll for our accredited ABSN program in Charlotte or Burlington, you can expect to receive the same quality nursing education taught by experienced, highly supportive instructors.

Because it’s a second-degree option, our full-time ABSN program builds on your non-nursing bachelor’s degree so that it’s possible to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months.

Our nursing curriculum follows a blended format that combines online accelerated coursework with substantial experiential learning opportunities. These opportunities involve hands-on nursing skills and simulation labs at a designated program site and in-person clinical rotations in diverse areas of nursing practice.

Also as part of the curriculum, we start preparing you for the NCLEX-RN exam as soon as you begin nursing school. We also provide extensive test preparation during your final weeks in the program.

Northeastern provides an excellent education. The university definitely prepared me for the NCLEX. I passed in 75 questions.

-Stephen, ABSN Program Graduate

By graduating from our ABSN program, you’ll be able to sit for the NCLEX-RN with confidence and enter the workforce prepared to:

  • Provide safe, effective, and compassionate care to patients.
  • Exhibit clinical judgment within best evidence-based practice.
  • Work effectively as part of an interdisciplinary healthcare team.
  • Demonstrate leadership in the provision of patient-centered care.
  • Use modern technology and information systems to monitor patient care.

Best of all, you don’t have to wait to get started on your accelerated nursing education. Both of our ABSN program locations have three start dates a year and are enrolling for the 2021 summer term, with classes starting in May.

Ready to Earn a BSN Degree?

If you have questions about or want to apply to our ABSN program in North Carolina or Massachusetts, contact our admissions team today! And remember, we make it possible for you to earn a respected BSN degree in as few as 16 months—a degree that opens the door to countless nursing career opportunities.

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