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AORN Blog - The Periop Life

BSN vs. RN: Why Earning Your BSN Matters

A Conversation with H. Charlie Lin, MSN, APRN, NP-C, RNFA, CNOR, FCN


BSN vs. RN: Why Earning Your BSN Matters

March 17, 2019   

As we get closer to the IOM’s (Institute of Medicine) 2020 goal for 80% of nurses to have a BSN degree, one perioperative nurse shares why having a BSN and committing to lifelong learning is imperative for nurses and their patients.

Perioperative nursing practice is not getting any easier.

As a nurse practitioner in a surgical role, I see the care of the surgical patient becoming ever more complex. Nurses need every advantage to adapt to the shift toward an aging patient population who have increased comorbidities, while using new products and devices for their care.

Having a BSN as a baseline for nursing preparation lays a strong foundation for the critical thinking, leadership, and management skills we use throughout our career—as well as knowledge of evidence-based care approaches.

While I have certainly worked with very skilled associate-degree prepared nurses, the higher level of training that comes from earning a BSN introduces students to a wider range of competencies that better prepare them for what our patients require today.

Achieving an Ambitious Goal

Next year we will see if the Institute of Medicine’s goal for 80% of nurses to earn a BSN by 2020 will be realized.

From my vantage point, I would say this target is on track, especially as more and more hospitals require a BSN for entry into practice. The trend toward requiring a BSN is also growing as more hospitals pursue Magnet designation.

Our practice continues to evolve with new evidence and the development of new evidence-based practice standards. The education that comes with a BSN provides better understanding of clinical, legal, and technologic advancements influencing nursing and prepares us to lead change and advance health.

Most important, knowing more about all the aspects that impact our patients makes the care we deliver that much better.

Seeking Lifelong Learning

Our choice of perioperative nursing as our career path comes with a responsibility to commit to lifelong learning through advanced degrees, conferences, continuing education activities, and pursuing certifications.

I am always seeking new opportunities to learn throughout the year to empower myself with the knowledge I need to provide the best possible care for my patients.

Perhaps the most exciting part of always learning is that we get the opportunity to interact collaboratively with fellow nurses of all disciplines to improve patient care across the healthcare continuum. It’s so fulfilling to share new information and research with my colleagues that inspires them to pursue a deeper breadth of knowledge and become even stronger advocates for the care of the surgical patient.

Pursue your personal goals for lifelong learning at AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo this April 6–10 in Nashville, Tenn. To learn about new strategies to overcome barriers to obtaining a BSN or higher nursing degree, make plans to attend education session, "To BSN or Not to BSN? That is the Question” on April 9.

H. Charlie Lin, MSN, APRN, NP-C, RNFA, CNOR, FCN, is a Surgical Nurse Practitioner at UConn Health in Farmington, CT and Adjunct Faculty at Delaware County Community College in Media, PA.