What Can You Do With a BSN?

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What can you do with a BSN? A BSN benefits you in many ways. If you’re an aspiring nurse, earning a BSN can open the door to careers inside the hospital, such as critical care nurse, surgical nurse, and oncology nurse. Potential nursing careers outside the hospital include home health nurse, hospice nurse, and school nurse.

nurses with durags and masks looking at clipboard

There are countless worthwhile professions to pursue, but an argument could be made that few careers have as significant an impact on the lives of others as nursing. If you’re considering switching careers and becoming a nurse, you can look forward to meaningful and fulfilling work making a positive difference in your community. However, the decision to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is only the first step. You also need to explore your specific career options.

What can you do with a BSN? (And just what is a BSN in nursing?) You’ll get those answers here. While planning your future, connect with an admission counselor at Xavier University to discuss enrollment requirements and the admission process.

What Is a BSN in Nursing?

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or a BSN, is one of two possible degrees aspiring nurses can earn to qualify to sit for the NCLEX-RN, the national licensure exam that all future nurses must pass. Another nursing degree is the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), which typically takes two years to complete. However, earning a BSN benefits aspiring nurses. Employers (both private and governmental) generally prefer to hire BSN-prepared nurses over ADN-prepared nurses, as there is significant evidence that a higher percentage of baccalaureate-educated nurses in health-care settings leads to better patient outcomes.

Typically, a BSN takes four years to complete. However, it’s possible to complete the degree in as few as 16 months if you enroll in an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program. An accelerated nursing program builds on your prior non-nursing college education. It offers the rigor of a four-year BSN degree, with the same blend of classroom instruction, skills labs, and clinical rotations that teach nursing knowledge, evidence-based practices, and clinical skills.

stethoscope with blue background

Are you thinking of pursuing nursing as a second degree? Learn more here!

What Can You Do With a BSN?

Now that you know what a BSN is, what can you do with a BSN? There are many nursing specialties you might consider pursuing, including specializations in and outside the hospital. During your clinical rotations, you’ll have the opportunity to work on different nursing units. This inside glimpse of various nursing specialties may help you choose the right path for you.

Bear in mind that while some nursing specialties may be in higher demand than others, the overall demand for registered nurses (RNs) is strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth rate for RNs from 2021 through 2031 is expected to be 6%, as fast as average. This indicates that health-care employers expect to hire about 203,000 new RNs annually through 2031.

What Can I Do With a BSN Inside the Hospital?

A BSN benefits future nurses by equipping them with the nursing knowledge and evidence-based practices needed to excel at direct patient care within hospitals. Here’s a look at some of the many nursing specialties you can pursue if you want to work in a hospital.

Critical Care Nurse

A critical care nurse may also be called an ICU nurse because they work in intensive care units. Patients are transferred to ICUs when they suffer from very serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries. For instance, after surviving a heart attack or stroke, a patient might wake up from surgery in the ICU.

Because they work with patients battling life-threatening health problems, critical care nurses must be ready to intervene immediately if a patient takes a turn for the worse. They also deliver routine care, such as administering medications, starting IVs, and monitoring vital signs. Critical care nurses must be empathetic, skilled communicators, interacting with patients and their family members and providing education, compassionate support, and patient advocacy.

a nurse using monitor above patient's bed

Surgical Nurse

The job title says it all. A surgical nurse, or perioperative nurse, works in the operating room to provide care to patients before, during, and immediately after surgery. Surgical nurses offer support to nurse practitioners and surgeons. They can do everything from preparing the operating room for the next procedure to assisting during surgery to monitoring the patient’s progress in the recovery room.

Within the surgical nurse specialty, there are a few subspecialties:

  • Circulating nurse – The circulating nurse meets with the patient before surgery to answer questions and do a preoperative assessment and then monitors patient safety and assists the team during surgery. This nurse may also keep family members informed about the progress of the surgery.
  • Scrub nurse – The scrub nurse is in the operating room during the surgery, ready to hand the surgeon the necessary instruments and support the surgeon.
  • PACU nurse – A post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) nurse works in the recovery area where patients are taken immediately after surgery. PACU nurses monitor patients’ progress as they come out of anesthesia, prepare patients for discharge or transfer to another hospital unit, and keep family members updated.

Oncology Nurse

Some of the most heart-wrenching words a person can hear are, “You have cancer.” It can be an overwhelming diagnosis, yet modern treatments offer hope. If you or a loved one have been affected by cancer, you might feel drawn to the oncology specialty. Oncology nurses provide compassion and hope to patients undergoing what will undoubtedly be one of the most challenging times in their lives.

Oncology nurses also serve as patient educators and advocates. They order tests, administer medications (including chemotherapy), monitor patients’ progress, and help them manage the side effects of cancer treatments. Oncology nurses must develop in-depth expertise in cancer and cancer treatments. They also assess patients’ emotional and mental health and refer them to psychological counselors as needed.

smiling nurse with other nurses standing in background

Get more helpful info on planning your nursing career path here!

What Can I Do With a BSN Outside the Hospital?

Although nurses are typically pictured working in hospitals and health-care clinics, many specialties take nurses outside these traditional settings. What can you do with a BSN outside the hospital? Consider the following options.

Home Health Nurse

It’s not always easy or ideal for patients to visit a hospital whenever they need care, particularly if they are seniors, recovering from surgery, or struggling with a debilitating medical condition. Home health nurses travel to patients’ homes to provide care. This job offers a great deal of autonomy and the opportunity to build long-term relationships with patients.

Typically, at the start of a shift, an RN will report to the facility they work for. They’ll receive their assignments for the day and stock up on needed medical supplies. Then, they’ll travel to patient homes to provide one-on-one care. A home health nurse may perform tasks such as the following:

  • Coordination of care among various providers
  • Case management
  • Assistance with the activities of daily living (ADLs), including mobility, grooming, bathing, and toileting
  • Administration of medications and IV infusions
  • Wound care
  • Patient progress evaluation
  • Patient and family caregiver education
  • Physical assessments

Hospice Care Nurse

One of the most difficult truths a nurse must accept is that not all patients will recover. When a patient is terminally ill and curative treatments are no longer possible, the patient can enter hospice. Hospice involves delivering palliative care, or comfort care, which is not designed to cure an illness or condition but will help make the patient more comfortable in the final days of life. Hospice care may be provided in a facility or the patient’s home, meaning some hospice nurses work in the hospital while others travel to private homes.

nurse holding elderly patient's hands

The role of a hospice nurse is to keep patients as comfortable and pain-free as possible and monitor their condition. Hospice nurses also educate family caregivers, particularly when care is provided at home. They monitor the patient and family’s need for psychosocial or spiritual support and provide referrals accordingly. Exceptional compassion and active listening skills are essential for this role, as is emotional resilience in difficult situations.

School Nurse

What can you do with a BSN that involves working with young patients? If you like working with kids but would rather work outside of a pediatrics unit at a hospital, you should consider becoming a school nurse. All types of schools—K-12 through college—need school nurses on staff. School nurses perform assessments, administer medications, evaluate behavioral health concerns, and develop and implement care plans for students with acute and chronic medical issues.

School nurses can also serve as an important resource for kids and families. They may be among the first professionals to identify potential signs of child abuse, neglect, or homelessness, and they can help families in need connect to community resources.

You can explore Xavier’s ABSN program eligibility requirements and prerequisites by clicking here.

Now that you know how a BSN benefits your career path, it’s time to connect with an admission counselor at Xavier. Our ABSN program will allow you to earn your BSN in as few as 16 months if you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Contact our admission counselors today for personalized, friendly support as you navigate the admission process.