What is the Difference Between an RN and a BSN?

When people hear or see the abbreviations RN and BSN, they often think they are the same things, but there is a difference between an RN and a BSN. In fact, they are two very distinct and different things. An individual with a BSN is going to be an RN, but an RN does not necessarily always have a BSN. Sound confusing? Here is a more in-depth description of the differences between an RN and a BSN.

What is an RN?

The letters RN are used to designate the credential of Registered Nurse. A registered nurse is an individual who provides and coordinates patient care, educates the community about health issues, educates patients on healthcare and provides support to patients and their families. Beside every doctor, you will probably find an RN assisting. To become an RN, an individual must complete a formal training program, which consists of coursework, lab studies and clinical rotations.

Once the training has been completed, the student must pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain licensure, which is required in all states. An individual can become an RN in one of these three ways.

  • Complete an associate's degree in nursing (ADN)
  • Complete a diploma nursing program
  • Complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program (BSN)

What is a BSN?

The BSN, which stands for Bachelor of Science in Nursing, is a degree level program in nursing. Unlike the associate's degree and diploma nursing programs, which can be completed in two years, the BSN requires four years of study. The student completes the same nursing curriculum but also takes general education courses. A graduate of a BSN typically also has more career opportunities available to them than the individual with the associate's degree or the diploma.

Career Opportunities for RNs with a BSN

There are many career opportunities for RNs who complete the BSN program. Nurse Journal states that many nursing students choose the diploma or associate degree program so they can begin their careers sooner but choose to pursue the BSN later in their careers. Since they already have nursing degrees, they can typically earn the BSN in two years rather than the usual four years. Having a bachelor's degree allows RNs the chance to pursue specialized areas of nursing and earn higher wages.

Some of specialized areas of nursing can be obtained after a few years of experience working as RNs, and some require some additional training. Here are some career opportunities for RNs with a BSN.

• Pediatric Nurse

• Critical Care Nurse

• Oncology Nurse

• Clinical Nurse Manager

• Research Nurse

• Nurse Informaticist

• Clinical Nurse Educator

• Surgical Nurse

• Public Health Nurse

Career Outlook for RNs

RNs are highly in demand and are expected to see a job growth of 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The gaining population continues to be in need of qualified healthcare professionals like RNs. As RNs retire, there will also be a need for more RNs. As of May 2017, RNs earned annual wages that ranged from $48,690 to more than $104,100.

Related Resource: The 25 Best Bachelors in Nursing Online Degree Programs

While an individual can become an RN through a couple of different paths, RNs with a BSN typically find the best career opportunities and wage potentials. Knowing the difference between an RN and a BSN can help an aspiring RN choose the right program and degree level.