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University of Maine at Fort Kent • 23 University Drive, Fort Kent, ME 04743

The Difference Between an RN and BSN

June 5, 2017
Posted by: David Sands

RN versus BSN - what's the difference?

Registered nurses (RNs) and those who have received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) use their certifications for very similar things. It’s common for most nurses who have a BSN to be certified RNs, but not all RNs earned their BSN. This important distinction can be a cause of confusion for many aspiring nurses. To help you understand what’s what, here are some of the biggest differences between an RN and BSN program.

Education Requirements

Nurses and nursing students become officially registered by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam after completing an accredited training program. An aspiring nurse could earn their BSN before taking the NCLEX-RN, but an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) fulfills the same requirements. Most associate degrees can be earned within two years, allowing students to take the NCLEX and begin working as a nurse relatively quickly.

Bachelor’s degrees, on the other hand, usually require four years of education. The degree is offered by many accredited universities and academic institutions. A BSN provides further or more advanced education, which often leads to more rewarding career options and higher salary potential in the future.

Job Opportunities

Any registered nurse, regardless of their education, is capable of performing the usual tasks that nurses are associated with. This includes consulting with doctors, working directly with patients and educating the public about diseases and illnesses. The nursing field is currently booming; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the job outlook for nurses will increase by 16 percent over the next decade, much faster than the national average.

Having a BSN opens up significantly more doors than just an RN certification alone. Nurses with a BSN can perform general RN tasks, but are also qualified to work in public health or as an educator. Further education allows nurses to work within their communities, either teaching the next generation of nurses or working closely with organizations focused on spreading medical knowledge to the general public. If you pursue higher education, such as a Master’s or Doctorate in Nursing, you could become a nurse practitioner or other type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).

According to the BLS, the median pay for RNs in 2016 was $68,450 per year; this includes nurses with and without a BSN. While nurses with just an associate’s degree or RN certification could reach that pay scale in their careers, workers with more experience and education are generally paid higher wages. Nurses who pursue even further education after their BSN have the potential to earn more. The median pay for nurse practitioners in 2016 for example, a position that usually requires a BSN, was $107,460 per year.

BSN Program Options in Maine

If you’re looking for a rewarding career, University of Maine at Fort Kent offers a number of options for you to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Our traditional BSN is a four-year program for students of any age who have at least a high school diploma. We also offer an accelerated BSN for students who have already earned an undergraduate degree. Accelerated students can earn their BSN in as little as 14 months. Licensed nurses looking to earn their bachelor’s degree can enroll in our online RN to BSN program to further their career options. Contact us online today for more information or to submit an application.