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Within the healthcare industry, several levels of nursing are available to pursue. Commonly, aspiring nurses start in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program to gain foundational knowledge about the field.

But what is a BSN? And what does that program entail? 

Let’s dive in. 

What Is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing?

A BSN is typically a 4-year undergraduate nursing degree program designed to prepare students for a career in nursing. During the program, a BSN student will gain the educational, lab, and clinical experience necessary to provide expert patient-centered care in a healthcare setting—a hospital, clinic, long-term care facility, or rehabilitation center. 

The specific courses offered in a BSN degree program will differ from one program to another. However, some common classes include: 

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Emergency Care
  • Family, Community, and Population-Based Care
  • Health Assessment
  • Microbiology
  • Nursing Ethics
  • Nursing Research
  • Nursing Theory
  • Nutrition
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychology
  • Public and Global Health
  • Statistics

In addition to class and lab work, students are expected to garner supervised experience in a clinical healthcare setting. Although it depends on the state, typically, the minimum threshold will be in the hundreds of hours. 

What Skills Will Students with a BSN Graduate With? 

BSN degree holders gain knowledge through their class work and clinical experience. Students will be able to perform the following daily duties: 

  • Assess the patient's health conditions
  • Administer medications, injections, and treatments
  • Change dressings 
  • Conduct routine lab work
  • Create treatment plans
  • Draw blood samples
  • Document patient cases  
  • Treat patients for illness, injury, or other health conditions 
  • Operate complex medical equipment 
  • Perform diagnostic tests
  • Perform physical exams 
  • Sanitize equipment and rooms 
  • Set up treatment rooms 

Naturally, the specific duties will depend on the nursing career options and setting. Regardless, nursing offers plenty of variety, especially regarding daily workflows. 

What Is the Difference Between an RN and a BSN? 

There are plenty of acronyms to consider when becoming a nurse (and even more once you start your nursing journey), so it’s easy to get them mixed up. 

An RN is a registered nurse, while a BSN is a degree that can be used to become a registered nurse. Another common acronym is an ADN—let’s run through these terms and the differences in detail: 

  • Education – A BSN is typically a 4-year degree program where students graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Students with a BSN tend to graduate with the title of “professional” nurse, although there are still a few steps before becoming employed. Students can also become an RN by completing a 2-year associate's degree in nursing (ADN). Those that do graduate with the title of “technical” nurse. 
  • Skillset – An ADN program focuses primarily on clinical training, whereas a BSN program includes advanced theory, clinical training, and leadership classes. Generally speaking, a BSN prepares students for more advanced classwork or a nursing specialty within the field of nursing care. 
  • Career path – As mentioned, a BSN program is more comprehensive, which better equips students for leadership and more advanced roles across the gamut of clinical settings, whereas an ADN nurse may be able to work in a variety of settings but often have limited opportunities for career advancement. 
  • ResponsibilitiesWhat does a registered nurse do? An RN will primarily provide clinical patient care and support. An RN with a BSN background can do that and teach, supervise, lead, conduct research, and manage a patient’s care.

How to Earn a BSN 

There are several steps students must complete to graduate with a BSN. For example, the vast majority of programs will require nursing students to:

  • Apply to the nursing program – Students must have graduated high school or earned their GED, with a minimum GPA. Additionally, they may need to satisfy the program's requirements for prereqs, clinical work experience, and entrance exams. 
  • Finish the BSN nursing program – To graduate, students must complete the required classroom instruction, lab training, and clinical experience.  
  • Pass Exams – Once the educational portion of the BSN is complete, nursing students must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam. 
  • Apply for licensure – Students who graduate with a BSN and pass their exam can then apply to their state’s medical board for their state-certification nursing license. 

Once the license is granted, BSN-educated nurses can pursue various nursing subspecialties or continue their higher education with a Master’s or Doctorate degree. 

Completing A BSN With Alliant International University

A BSN in nursing prepares students to become professional healthcare workers. 

If you want to advance your nurse education, Alliant International University is excited to announce our new School of Nursing and Health Science. This accredited program is designed to equip nursing professionals with the instruction, support, and experience they need to make a difference in the healthcare industry. 

Ready to get started? Apply today. 


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