How Do I Choose the Best RN to BSN Program to Attend?
If you are in the process of choosing an RN to BSN to attend, you probably have some questions about how to select the right one. Below, watch our nurse expert Shanna Shafer BSN discuss the criteria she used to select the school she attended for this nursing bridge program.
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How To Choose the Right Nursing School for Your RN to BSN
“There are some extremely important things to think about when you are looking for an RN to BSN program. I will say that first and foremost. It is a big undertaking, especially if you intend to keep working as a nurse while you go to school. It can be a financial undertaking, depending upon where you choose to attend, so that is something worth considering.
And overall, you know, the first thing that you need to think about, when you are thinking about going to get your BSN after having your RN is — is it worth it to you, what’s it going to mean for your future in nursing — and that’s really going to drive your decision.
Some of the basic tips that I would say [are important for choosing a school are], number one: make sure that you start by looking at the schools that are near you. Many RN to BSN programs are offered online, but there are very very few who do not require clinical time. So, finding a school that is near you with clinical sites in your own community (again most of these are going to be like population based health and community health clinicals) so you’re going to want to be somewhere nearby so you’re not driving three or four hours to go do a clinical rotation that takes you an hour.
The second thing that I’d consider is obviously price. I think it’s important to be wise and consider what you are capable of. Be sure to look into scholarships, there are tons of scholarships out there and we offer one on our own site, so I hope you check it out. There are grants, make sure that you speak to your — if you’re working already– make sure that you speak to the hospital or the health care facility where you work about tuition reimbursement. This is huge! They want you, as an RN, to go ahead and get your Bachelor’s degree because this is going to make you a more effective, a safer, a more efficient nurse, so most of the facilities are totally willing to reimburse you for a certain amount of tuition. So take advantage of that! That’s a huge tip for completing an RN to BSN program.
You’ll also want to make sure that the program where you’re getting your RN to BSN is fully accredited. There is nothing worse than getting into a nursing program and realizing that it’s not going to apply. You obviously already have your RN license, so it’s not as huge of a deal as it might be if you were just getting into the field, but if you plan on going on to your Master’s or becoming a nurse practitioner or [pursuing] any sort of advanced degree, you’re going to want to make sure that the school is properly accredited.
Some other tips include making sure that they have flexible scheduling with classes. You’re not going to want to attend a program that is making you attend classes 8-5 Monday-Wednesday-Friday. Those days are over if you are a working nurse. I know I attended classes for like two hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which was completely feasible with my working schedule. So keep that in mind, make sure that your work schedule and your school schedule are compatible.
Take into consideration any life events you have going on. If you are planning a wedding, if you’re planning on expanding your family, if you are taking a big trip, if you are undertaking a huge fundraising project or anything that is going to compromise your ability to actually get down and study, learn the material and perform at your best– you may want to postpone your decision a little bit. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have to go back, but you might want to just be realistic and think about that.
Again, one of the most important tips is making sure that you utilize all of the funding that your employer will give you. Working nurses need all of the help they can get to get through school, so reach out about the tuition reimbursement.
Other tips for choosing an RN to BSN is to do your research. I think I looked at about 10 or 15 schools when I started looking for a program. I whittled it down to three, and then I spoke with admissions and the nursing program at each of those schools. I asked them my specific questions that I had, evaluated costs vs time, and looked at their curriculum and made sure that I chose the program that was the best for me.
You’ll also want to make sure that you have the support of your employer and your family, if you have one. [Depend on] whoever you can reach out to to just lend a hand and make things easier for you. We all know that nursing school is tough, and going back for your Bachelor’s is no different.
I think my biggest tip is just trust your gut. If you find a program and you think it’s right for you, then explore it! If it’s time, it’s time to go back. If you’re feeling like, maybe I don’t know – maybe I’m not ready for this, maybe you’re not ready. But I think trusting your gut, doing the research, making sure you have the support you need for an RN to BSN, and then really choosing the school wisely–those are my biggest tips for [choosing] an RN to BSN program.”