Compensation is a hot topic among nurses currently, and for good reason. Long hours, demanding work, high stress, high patient acuity and low staffing contribute to nurses’ choice to exit the workforce. Yet, the need for nurses and healthcare providers has never been more dire in the United States.

Holding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree can be critical to addressing the nationwide nursing shortage, but it will also help you command a more lucrative salary and propel your career forward with further education and certification opportunities. Here are four benefits to earning a BSN degree:

  1. Prestigious Workplaces with Empowerment

If you want to push boundaries and work alongside some of the best-trained professionals in medicine and innovative, transformational nursing leaders, then consider a position in a Magnet hospital. A “Magnet” designation is an honor awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) that signifies a high standard of excellence in professional nursing practice. Unfortunately, less than 10% of hospitals nationally have this recognition, including some prestigious centers such as Henry Ford Health System, Cleveland Clinic and Loyola University Medical Center.

Magnet hospitals must employ a certain number of BSN-prepared nurses, and some organizations require all their specialty-certified nurses and nurse leaders to hold a BSN or MSN degree. As a result, Magnet facilities usually have lower nurse-patient ratios, better work environments, higher patient and nursing satisfaction and less staff turnover. In addition, most operate under a shared governance model or counsel system where nursing staff members help improve care through quality initiatives and evidence-based practice as part of professional development.

  1. High Earning Potential and Autonomy

Many of the highest paying nursing positions require a BSN, including nursing roles with a pharmaceutical company. Positions can include nurse educator, liaison or advocate, nurse advisor, researcher, case manager or call center support and sales professional. Nurses in these roles may focus on disease states, devices, drugs and side effect management. Subject matter experts with experience and certification in oncology, emergency medicine, cardiovascular health, infectious disease, labor and delivery or mental health are in notable high demand.

These flexible roles are not only some of the highest-compensated in nursing outside of executive leadership, but they also usually have somewhat flexible working hours. These positions typically offer a high salary, excellent medical coverage and retirement plans. Still, these desirable positions that offer autonomy, growth potential and competitive salaries typically require nurses to hold a BSN degree.

  1. Improve Patient Outcomes

Patients in the care of BSN-prepared and certified nurses do better overall. Numerous studies show that organizations with more BSN-prepared nurses have better patient outcomes. For example, one landmark study of surgical patients across 168 hospitals showed that even a 10% increase in BSN nurses reduces the risk of patient death by five percent. In addition, although research correlating patient outcomes with specialty certifications is ongoing, some studies show certification improves patient outcomes such as falls, infection rates and pressure ulcers.

Regardless of research, however, patients and their caregivers deserve to have confidence in their nurses. A provider’s badge with the letters BSN or CCRN (critical care registered nurse) can quickly put a patient at ease. While education and clinical hour requirements vary for different certifications, advanced nursing training can only improve patient outcomes.

  1. Contribute to Health Equity Efforts

The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized what many nurses already knew: access to healthcare is not equal for all. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation states that “Health equity means increasing opportunities for everyone to live the healthiest life possible, no matter who we are, where we live, or how much money we make.”

As a nurse, regardless of your role, you will work with people from diverse educational, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The future of nursing will depend on the healthcare system’s ability to address social determinants of health and gender, racial and ethnic barriers that create health disparities for individuals.

For nurses to address health inequity, nurses across the care continuum need strong educational programs. Nurses can play a role in aligning care delivery with the social needs of a community. A nurse’s role in population care is not limited to a specific job but a responsibility and core competency for all providers.

Perhaps you want to explore more diverse employment opportunities for positions that require a BSN degree. Maybe your plan includes pursuing education beyond a BSN for a leadership, educator or nurse practitioner position. Perhaps you’re aiming for your Ph.D. or DNP. Whatever your goal, a BSN can help you propel your career and effect change at every level of care.

Learn more about Eastern Michigan University’s online RN to BSN program.