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What is the difference between an RN and BSN?

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Quick Answer

NurseJournal.org says one of the main differences between an RN and a BSN is that an RN is able to start in the nursing field with just a one- or two-year process, whereas the BSN takes four years to complete. The RN is available to start as soon as she passes the NCLEX exam after her training is complete. Someone pursuing a BSN needs to earn a bachelor's degree in addition to passing this test.

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Full Answer

Those who are registered nurses do basic nursing care, such as using simple medical equipment, teaching patients about illnesses and diseases, recording symptoms, and working with doctors. Those with a BSN are able to do all of those jobs plus they sometimes become nurse educators, specialize in certain areas of nursing, or are public health nurses.

In 2014, according to Payscale.com, RNs made on average $39,100, while those with a BSN made $69,000 yearly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that RNs are eligible for 51 percent of nursing jobs, while the BSN holder is qualified for 88 percent of these jobs.

For many nurses, being an RN is a stepping stone to earning a BSN, which the Institute of Medicine recommends obtaining. The BSN is the precursor needed to go on to become a nurse practitioner, a nurse midwife or a clinical nurse, all of which require a master's degree in nursing.

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