The Path from CNA to BSN

Due to increasing healthcare demands and the constantly evolving medical system, nurses who possess a bachelor’s degree or higher are in demand. Healthcare professionals working as Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) have the opportunity to advance their careers in nursing by advancing their education to the baccalaureate level.

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The Path from CNA to BSN

The Call for Baccalaureate-Educated Nurses

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released The Future of Nursing in October of 2010, which addressed the serious need for nurses with higher levels of education to enter the workforce. According to the report, nurses who possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in nursing are better prepared for the ever-changing healthcare system and increasing healthcare demands. The IOM believes that increasing the amount of baccalaureate-level nurses will improve the quality of care patients receive and effectiveness of treatments. That is why the IOM committee initiated a call to increase the number of nurses with their BSN by 80% by the year 2020. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) shares the same opinion of the IOM and considers the minimum education requirement for registered nurses to be a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Education Options and Benefits for CNAs

For those holding a CNA, there are a few different ways to become a registered nurse. The most common method is through CNA bridge courses.  Most bridge courses allow the credits earned from your CNA program to transfer to the degree you wish to earn. CNA-to-RN bridge courses are the most common method and can be completed by earning an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Corresponding with the IOM’s initiative and AACN standards, we will focus on the CNA-to-BSN route today.

The choice to advance your career to become a registered nurse is a big decision. It can lead to many opportunities that weren’t previously available, as well as higher compensation and career advancement. Earning your BSN is a time commitment, but there are degree options available to meet different lifestyles. Traditionally, BSN degrees are earned through four-year programs. However, accelerated BSN programs are emerging that combine online and clinical learning that earn you your BSN in less than two years. Another option for CNAs is to complete a CNA-to-RN program and after sitting for the NCLEX. You can then apply for a BSN program.

An advantage that CNA’s hold over nursing students without a healthcare background is that CNAs can apply what they have learned in the workplace to their degree. Further, CNAs are familiar with healthcare settings, which can lead them to be even more prepared to reenter the field with as an RN and usually gives them a larger network when they apply to jobs.

To begin the process of transitioning from a career as CNA to a baccalaureate-educated registered nurse, browse our database of BSN programs. You can also learn more about your options in nursing by downloading our free nursing career guide.