Top 3 Obstacles to Getting a BSN - And How to Overcome Them

Top 3 Obstacles to Getting a BSN – And How to Overcome Them

Mar 22, 2015 | 10:00 am

Many nurses start their academic journey wondering which path to take between getting a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) or earning a two-year degree and starting work sooner. With the growing expectation that nurses will increase their level of education, the choice seems clearer—in 2010 the Institute of Medicine called for 80 percent of nurses to hold a bachelor’s degree by 2020—but the path is not without its obstacles.

While common road blocks keep some nurses from getting a BSN, there are ways to overcome them. Keep reading!

Nursing Faculty Shortage

You might wonder how a faculty shortage could become an obstacle for getting a BSN, but when there’s a shortage of faculty, there’s a limit on nursing program enrollments. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), nursing schools in the United States turned away 79,659 qualified applicants from BSN and graduate nursing programs in 2012 due to the following:

•Lack of faculty
•Insufficient classroom space
•Too few clinical sites
•Budget constraints

The AACN notes that while they saw a 2.6 percent enrollment increase in BSN programs in 2013, the increase still isn’t enough to meet the projected need for nurses.

Don’t Let It Stop You from Getting a BSN

As the need for nurses grows, so does the need for programs that can accommodate the demand. Keep looking and applying! The AACN says that nursing schools are forming more strategic partnerships and seeking private support to help meet the needs of a growing student population. One example can be found in the University of Minnesota, which partnered with the Minnesota VA Health Care System last year to expand enrollment in the school’s BSN program.

Time commitment

The BSN is a four-year degree, just like almost all bachelor’s degree programs. While other avenues exist to become an RN more quickly, such as earning an associate degree or diploma in nursing, surveys show that employers have a preference for hiring new nurses with a bachelor’s degree. Nonetheless, for those interested in getting a BSN quickly, it might feel like an obstacle to plod through the required courses. And for second-degree students, going back to school another four years is out of the question. Luckily there are options.

Don’t Let It Stop You from Getting a BSN

For undergraduate nursing students who plan on getting a BSN in four years, think of it as an actual timesaver. The time might feel long when other nursing students who pursue associate degrees of diplomas graduate sooner and start working earlier, but the growing trend among employers to hire BSN nurses has more nurses going back to school and getting a BSN, writes Richard Pérez-Peña in his 2012 New York Times article, “More Stringent Requirements Send Nurses back to School.”

For career changers who hold a non-nursing degree, accelerated nursing programs help students catch up on credits and transition into nursing careers quickly. Though courses are often taken full time without breaks between sessions, completing a BSN through an accelerated program often takes between 11 and 18 months. Programs exist in 46 states, with many new ones forming, so check out this list to find a school closest to you.

Cost of Education

For nurses who decide to return to school for a higher degree, there is the question of how to afford it. But really, this is the same question for career changers and new students alike. While cost of education creates an obstacle for some, it is not always insurmountable.

How to Overcome the Obstacle

Multiple avenues exist to help nurses afford getting a BSN. Aside from checking out grants and school-specific resources, the AACN lists links to nursing program resources such as scholarships, financial aid options and loan repayment and forgiveness programs for all levels of nursing education. With the desire for employers to have nurses with higher levels of education on staff, tuition reimbursement and other incentives are becoming more popular. Other reputable sites, such as, also provide pages on how to afford your BSN.

While these obstacles might seem more like mountains to some, nurses who have a drive and passion to succeed will barrel through them. Welcome to the journey!