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Nursing as a Career

Deciding on a career is a life defining moment... and BSU nursing faculty celebrates your decision. This section provides a quick overview of the nursing profession. You'll find out what you need to know, what you can expect, and where you can learn more. Congratulations on starting your journey towards becoming a nursing professional.

Thinking About a Career in Nursing?
To become a Registered Nurse (RN), you will need to apply to a nursing program. Each program is slightly different in what is required and how and when to apply. If you're still in high school, be sure to learn about the requirements of the programs of interest, particularly as they relate to prerequisite high school coursework.

What You Need to Get into Nursing
Nursing is a science based program. If you are in high school, helpful courses are sciences, particularly biology, anatomy and physiology, and chemistry. You will also need math/algebra, and excellent written and oral communication skills. We recommend writing classes, speech, and humanities that will challenge your thinking and writing.

If you are a high school graduate and are considering a nursing program, lower division classes essential for most programs include: chemistry, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, nutrition, algebra, lifespan development, English composition, sociology, and psychology. How many of these classes will depend on whether you choose an ADN or BSN.

Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) - not offered at BSU
An ADN is available from community colleges and usually requires two to three years of coursework. Northwest Technical College offers an ADN program. The focus of the ADN nursing programs is direct patient care in a variety of settings. Nurses who graduate with an ADN may take the NCLEX exam, which is the exam you take to become a Registered Nurse.

Bachelor of Science with a major in nursing (BSN) - offered at BSU
A BSN is a four-year college degree in nursing. BSU's Department of Nursing is offering two unique tracks, each leading to a bachelor's degree in nursing. In addition to direct patient care nursing, BSN coursework includes family and community nursing, leadership and management, and research. The BSN graduate must also take the NCLEX exam to become a Registered Nurse. Graduates from BSN programs have the most opportunities for advancement. A BSN is required if you are interested in leadership and management, public health nursing, school nursing, forensic nursing or nursing in the military. A BSN is also required if you want to go to graduate school to become a nurse practitioner, a clinical nurse specialist, a nurse anesthetist, a nurse midwife or a nurse educator.

Master's Degree in Nursing (MSN, MS) - not offered at BSU
A master's in nursing is a graduate degree in nursing. There are a variety of graduate programs and specialties that award a master's degree in nursing. You must have a BSN to get a master's in nursing. Master's degree programs prepare nurses to work as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse educators, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists and nurse administrators.

RN to BSN Program - offered at BSU
The program is specific for RNs with an Associate's degree that are looking to complete their four year nursing degree. These programs typically take one to two years to complete. BSU has offered the RN to baccalaureate degree option for over 20 years.

RN to MS Program - not offered at BSU
This option allows RNs with a BSN to secure their Master's in Nursing.

Alternate Entry Bachelor's and/or Master's Program - not offered at BSU
This program is for individuals with a Bachelor's degree in other fields who seek to enter the nursing profession. Some programs are for those seeking a BSN and others are designed to complete a Master's program as the initial entry to nursing.

Doctoral Degree (PhD, DNSc) - not offered at BSU
Doctoral degrees prepare nurses to serve in leadership roles within the profession. Nurses who have doctoral degrees teach in colleges and universities, conduct research programs in health care facilities as well as universities and organizations, and serve a nurse executives and health policy experts.

Job Outlook
As the largest health care occupation, Registered Nurses held about 2.3 million jobs in 2002 and job opportunities for RNs are expected to be very good. Employment of Registered Nurses is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2012, and because the occupation is very large, many new jobs will result. In fact, more new jobs are expected to be created for RNs than for any other occupation. Thousands of job openings also will result from the need to replace experienced nurses who leave the occupation, especially as the median age of RNs continues to rise.

For a list of BSN, graduate, and accelerated nursing programs, contact:
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
1 Dupont Circle NW, Suite 530
Washington, DC 20036

Information on Registered Nurses is also available from:
American Nurses Association
600 Maryland Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20024-2571

Information from the State Board of Nursing regarding BSU's 4-year track program approval:
Minnesota Board of Nursing