Earning the BSN degree: A smart Career Decision
While working as a registered nurse (RN) does not require a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree it will allow the nurse to work in some nursing roles only open to BSN educated nurses. However, one may consider RN to BSN and RN to MSN options. For Magnet Designated facilities it will allow the RN to be hired for or promoted into leadership roles.
Earning the BSN Degree is a Smart Career Decision
- Healthcare facilities which have achieved Magnet Designation, or are on the pathway, require nurses to have BSN degrees for leadership roles
- Many hospitals and healthcare
facilities will only allow Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) educated RNs
to fill certain roles including:
- Infection Control
- Quality Control
- Case Management
- Healthcare Informatics
- Assistant Nurse Manager
- Charge Nurse
- Nurse Educator
- Clinical Development Specialist / Training & Development Specialist
For each of these BSN roles, the following topics are discussed:
- How to Become
- Required Education, Certifications, and Contact Hours
Magnet Designation Hospitals
The American Nurses Credentialing Center, or ANCC, was established by the American Nurses Association (ANA) to provide “professional achievement recognition in defined functional of clinical areas of nursing.”
This organization offers Magnet Designation to hospitals who meet strict criteria. Magnet hospitals require Nurse Leaders and Nurse Managers to hold at least a BSN degree. The ANCC describes Magnet Designation as:
“The ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® is viewed around the world as the ultimate seal of quality and confidence. Magnet organizations are recognized for superior nursing processes and quality patient care, which lead to the highest levels of safety, quality, and patient satisfaction.”
If a hospital is able to achieve Magnet Designation it is known as being not only a great place for nurses to work but a great place for patients to be. In the industry the Magnet Designation lets everyone know how serious the nurses are about achieving and maintaining the highest level of quality, safety, and patient satisfaction. An RN working for a Magnet Designated hospital knows that he or she is working with a group of nurses who really care about the facility and about the well being of patients and families.
Infection Control RN
The Infection Control RN, also known as Infection Preventionist, is accountable for infection prevention and control practices and programs within the healthcare setting. Specifically, he or she is responsible for the identification of infectious disease processes, surveillance and epidemiologic investigation, and preventing and controlling the transmission of infectious agents.
This RN works with the interdisciplinary team essentially as an “infection preventionist.” The nurse is in charge of monitoring and educating staff to prevent the spread of infection by upholding standards outlined in healthcare policies, holds a professional certification, is able to advance in his or her career, and earns a competitive wage.
This RN works with the interdisciplinary team which includes bedside professionals such as physicians, bedside nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists, wound care nurses, and charge nurses as well as nurse managers, the Medical Director, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Healthcare policies and procedures are created with the Team to prevent and control infections. The infection control RN is accountable for the prevention and control practices and programs in the facility.
The Infection Control RN is present for Grand Rounds and Daily Rounds to gain accurate information which helps to predict, monitor and treat patients for infection. The RN educates staff about disease prevention, proper medication administration and wound care, helps create a plan of care and discusses treatment options with the Team.
Working with third parties, such as the CDC, in treating and reporting patients with certain infections and staying up-to-date on current research, the Infection Control RN has a great responsibility to patients and the hospital staff to bring important practices and information to the hospital. This RN relays any pertinent information to the interdisciplinary team. The goal is to prevent healthcare-associated infections, properly manage any current infections, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.
How to Become an Infection Control RN
For many employers, the role of Infection Control does not need to be filled by an RN specifically but it does need to be filled by an individual with a Bachelor’s degree and healthcare experience. Bachelor’s degrees in Epidemiology, Public Health, and Nursing are usually the accepted degrees for this position. Some facilities will still accept RNs with an Associate’s degree for this position but as more and more RNs earn a Bachelor’s degree
At least 1 year of healthcare experience dealing with infection prevention and an agreement to earn the Certification in Infection Prevention and Control (CIC) certification after a hire is required by most employers. Becoming a member of the Association for Practitioners in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) or SHEA.
Required Education, Certifications, and Contact Hours for the Infection Control RN
The Infection Control RN is required by most healthcare facilities to have a BSN degree and either required or encouraged to hold the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (CBIC) Certification. The CBIC is a multidisciplinary board which administers and maintains the Certification in Infection Prevention and Control (CIC). The CIC exam is the “only standardized measurement of essential knowledge, skills, and abilities expected of infection prevention and control professionals in North America.
The Mission of the CBIC is “To protect the public through the development, administration, and promotion of accredited certification in infection prevention &
control. CBIC maintains and promotes professional certification of the highest quality through the accomplishment of key objectives.”
The CIC is earned through a proctored examination of 150-questions and after 5 years recertification by an open-book online exam is required. If the open-book exam is failed then the nurse is required to take the exam again with a proctor.
An Associate’s degree or greater is required for the RN to become CIC certified, however, to be employed as an Infection Control RN, most healthcare facilities require a BSN degree. More eligibility requirements are available.
Continuing Education Units or Contact Hours are not required for CIC certification but may be required by the State to maintain RN licensure. Check with your State’s Board of Nursing to determine if continuing education is required.
Infection Control RN Salary
The Infection Control RN salary averages $67,860 in the United States. As with most nursing positions more money can be earned through working extra hours, years of experience, certifications, and advancing education.
Quality Control RN
The Quality Control RN position may also be titled
- Quality Analyst, Quality Improvement Coordinator
- Clinical Quality Improvement RN
- Quality Review RN
- Quality Assurance Analyst
The primary role of the Quality Control RN is to ensure the healthcare facility is in compliance with the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) and The Joint Commission. CMS reimburses hospitals for services rendered and required documentation and patient care be done in a certain way. The Joint Commission provides certification and accreditation to healthcare facilities which are important for many reasons. The most important reason a healthcare facility should be accredited by The Joint Commission is that this ensures the facility is providing quality care in a safe environment.
The Quality Control RN has the very important role of being sure the healthcare facility is getting paid by CMS and maintaining Joint Commission credentials. The facility will likely go out of business if a healthcare facility fails in either of these areas. The Quality Control RN audits charts and helps write policies and procedures to ensure compliance. He or she will educate staff and work hard to get everyone on board with any changes to policies as well as facilitate the Medical Staff Peer Review process which supports CMS and The Joint Commission credentialing and re-credentialing.
In addition, bring together data analytics, performance improvement, risk management, patient safety and much more, helping others see the bigger picture.
Quality Control RNs work in many areas of healthcare including hospitals, outpatient settings, and even for insurance companies or the government.
How to Become a Quality Control RN
Gaining at least 2 years of experience as a bedside RN and earning a BSN degree is the best pathway to becoming a Quality Control RN.
Required Education, Certifications, and Contact Hours for the Quality Control RN
A BSN is required by most healthcare facilities.
Certification is usually expected by healthcare facilities after hire but is usually not be required to become get the job. The Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) is the only voluntary certification program in the field of healthcare quality management. This exam suggests 2 years of experience prior to taking the exam. This certification is open to many disciplines including RNs.
Continuing education is required to recertify the CPHQ certification. The requirement is 30 continuing education units (CEUs) every 2 years and accepted forms or education are seminars, college courses, online courses, speaking engagements, publications or books.
Salary for Quality Control RN
The median salary for the Quality Improvement
Coordinator RN is $68,359.
As with the nursing field in general, gaining experience, education, and certifications will increase salary.
The role of Case Manager nurse requires an experienced RN whose ultimate goals include improving patient satisfaction, decreasing cost, and improving quality of care. In order to do this, the RN uses data collection tools to determine initial and ongoing care skills a patient requires. This RN directs and coordinates the multidisciplinary team from admission to discharge to achieve the desired patient outcome he or she has developed.
Working with bedside RNs, the Case Manager ensures regulatory compliance and timetables are met for documentation, especially of critically important care needs such as wound care and measurements and Fall documentation.
The Case Manager is responsible for developing a patient specific plan of care with interventions which will help achieve the measureable and time specific goals needed for a safe discharge from the hospital. Staying updated to industry standards and any changes in policy are required of the Case Manager.
Case Managers work in many types of healthcare facilities, including hospitals, home health, and rehabilitation.
How to Become a Case Manager
Gaining years of experience as an RN is the best way to become a Case Manager. Many facilities require at least 2 years in a setting with exposure to Case Management like a bedside RN would have. Beginning to prepare for the AACN or CCMC certifications in Case Management would be beneficial for those RNs serious about becoming a Case Manager. However, the exam can’t be taken until the RN actually works as a case manager.
Required Education, Certifications, and Contact Hours for Case Managers
While the BSN is not required by every facility to be a Case Manager it is the preferred level of education and as more and more RNs earn the BSN degree it will likely be required in the future. A Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) is also widely accepted.
The ANCC, CCMC, and ACM offer Case Management certifications.
ANCC Case Management Certification Exam
To be eligible to take the ANCC Case Management Certification exam, the RN must:
- Hold a current, active unrestricted RN license in the United States or its territories, or the professional legally recognized equivalent in another country
- Have practiced the equivalent of two years full time as a registered nurse
- Have a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in case management within the last two years
- Have completed 30 hours of continuing education in case management within the last three years.
The ANCC Case Manager exam is $270 for American Nurses Association (ANA) members and $390 for non-members. It is computer-based and takes 4-6 weeks to process the application prior to receiving authorization to test.
The ANCC accepts reciprocity for CCMC certified RNs with an active RN license in good standing, meaning they will accept CCMC certification as the same an ANCC certification and these RNs do not need to take the ANCC test to be ANCC certified.
ANCC Case Management Recertification
The RN with the ANCC Case Manager Certification is valid for 5 years then the RN needs to reapply/recertify. The ANCC requires 75 hours of continuing education and fulfillment of 1 or more of the 8 ANCC Renewal Categories:
- Continuing Education Hours – 75 Continuing Education hours in the certification specialty
- Academic Credits – Five semester credits or 6 quarter credits of academic courses in your certification specialty
- Presentations – One or more presentations totaling five clock hours in your certification specialty
- Evidence-Based Practice, Quality
Improvement Project, Publication or Research
Preceptor Hours – 120 hours as a preceptor in which you provided direct clinical supervision/teaching to APRN, medical, physician assistant, or pharmacy students in an academic program related to your certification specialty; or a minimum of 120 hours of clinical supervision related to your certification specialty in a formal fellowship, residency, or internship program at the same practice level or higher
- Professional Service – Two or more years of volunteer service during your certification period with an international, national, state; or local healthcare-related organization; accepted volunteer activities include serving on boards of directors, committees, editorial boards, review boards, task forces, and medical missions
- Practice Hours – Must be completed within the five years preceding the date on your renewal application submission; a minimum of 1,000 practice hours in your specialty is required.
- Assessment (Examination/ Resubmission), if available) EBP/QI Project – One completed EBP/QI project that demonstrates the use of a problem-solving approach Publication: One article published in a peer-reviewed journal or book chapter; five different articles published in a non-peer reviewed journal; primary author of content related to your certification specialty; or primary grant writer for a federal, state, or national organization project
- Research – An IRB research project related to your certification specialty; a completed dissertation, thesis, or DNP project; service as a content reviewer on an IRB, dissertation, thesis, or DNP project; or service as a content expert reviewer of other activities related to your certification specialty Pass the assessment (exam or portfolio), if available
CCMC Case Management Certification Exam, CCM Exam
The Commission for Case Manager Certification also offers an exam for Case Managers.
“We are committed to the evolution of case management, promoting the quality practice, ethical standards and behavior, science-based knowledge development, and a heightened understanding of the role and function of today’s professional case manager.”
To be eligible to take the CCMC exam the candidate is not required to be an RN and requirements are:
One of the following educational categories:
- Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree
One of the following employment categories:
- 12 months of full-time case management under the supervision of a Certified Case Manager
- Employed for 24 months full-time case management
- 12 months of full-time case management as a supervisor of individuals who provide case management services
The CCMC Case Management exam is valid for 5 years then the RN needs to recertify. In order to be eligible for recertification, the Case Manager needs to either retake the CCMC exam or complete 80 hours of continuing education.
ACM Case Management Certification
The Accredited Case Manager (ACM) credential was developed by the American Case Management Association (ACMA). The purpose of the exam:
- Specifically addresses Case Management in health delivery system settings
- Tests core Case Management knowledge that is shared by Nurse and Social Work Case Managers, as well as competency in the individual skills of each professional background
- Utilizes clinical simulation testing methodology to test “competency beyond knowledge” – testing critical thinking skills and the ability to use knowledge in practical situations.
Eligibility to take the ACM exam includes working as a RN or Social Worker and meeting certain criteria and being employed for at least 2 years as a case manager or equivalent.
The ACM is valid for 4 years and recertification requires 40 hours continuing education.
While many great organizations offer certification in case management the bottom line is which certification is preferred by the employer. Because working as a case manager is required to take the case management exam the RN will likely already be working in that role and will be staying with the current employer, so he or she can simply ask the appropriate manager.
Salary of a Case Manager
Case Managers salary average about $68,997 per year. As with all RN jobs, salary will increase with years of experience, certifications, and leadership roles.
Nursing & Healthcare Informatics
Healthcare informatics is a relatively new field for RNs. Other names for this role include Clinical Informatics Nurse and Clinical Informatics Analyst. This nurse has the ability to map real-life nursing and clinical practices in healthcare informatics applications.
The Healthcare Informatics RN focuses on promoting Electronic Healthcare/Medical Records (EHR) functions to enhance the delivery of patient care through education, role modeling, quality improvement, program development, and coordination. This RN is also responsible for assisting in the integration of new software and software updates into the clinical setting and being the facility resource for daily operational issues of the clinical system.
According to the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) over 70,000 Informatics positions will need to be filled over the coming years due to the requirement of electronic medical records.
How to Become a Healthcare Informatics RN
Most employers for Healthcare Informatics RNs are hospitals and they often require:
- At least 3 years working in a hospital setting with patients
- The ability to learn and teach IT technology
- The familiarity of Windows-based software and process/performance improvement methods
- Excellent communication skills
- Active RN licensure in the State
- Either a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) or other clinical Bachelor’s degree for non-nurses or Master’s degree in Technology, Computer Science, Biomedical Engineering, or Information systems
Required Education, Certifications, and Contact Hours for Healthcare Informatics
Healthcare facilities require a Bachelor’s degree or higher to qualify for the role with most facilities. This is employer specific so the best way to check required education for any role is to look at the job listing.
The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) has developed the Advanced Health Informatics Certification (AHIC) which is a rigorous exam for many specialties, not just RNs. This certification can only be earned after working in healthcare informatics and eligibility to take the exam includes having a Master’s degree or better.
Salary of a Healthcare Informatics RN
The Healthcare Informatics RN median salary is $76,467.
“In the HIMSS 2014 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, conducted by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, the median salary reported for Nurse Informaticists was $93,000. The average salary reported was $100,717.” Some facilities do require a Master’s degree for this position so it is unclear whether this reported salary is for a Master’s or a Bachelor’s.
Years of experience, the highest level of education, location, and certifications tend to dictate salary in the field of nursing.
Assistant Nurse Manager
The Assistant Nurse Manager is frequently aspiring to be a nurse manager and his or her performance demonstrates this by making efforts to go above and beyond the requirements of the position and learn more about what the nurse manager does. The Assistant Nurse Manager provides support to staff in the form of making schedules, dealing with the conflict between staff members, hiring, firing, performance reviews, coaching, counseling, mentoring, and holding staff accountable.
This key nurse leader plays a significant role in helping the nurse manager to achieve financial, educational, and clinical goals while collaborating with other departments. The Assistant Nurse Manager supervises nurses who provide direct patient care, oversees ancillary staff, and ensure patient satisfaction.
How to Become an Assistant Nurse Manager
Earning at least a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is required for this role. In addition to education, this role requires at least 2-3 years of clinical experience preferably with some leadership experience. Having some experience with budgets and finances is also beneficial in securing this position.
Required Education, Certifications, and Contact Hours for Assistant Nurse Managers
A Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is required for this role from most facilities. Some facilities will accept a non-nursing Bachelor’s degree for a Master’s degree in nursing. The role of Nurse Manager usually requires a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree so the ambitious assistant nurse manager will likely be interested in earning the MSN in the future.
At this time there are no certifications for Assistant Nurse Managers, however, some are available for Nurse Managers.
Salary of Assistant Nurse Manager
The median salary for an Assistant Nurse Manager is $78,492. The Assistant Manager often works 8-hour shifts Monday through Friday without weekends, holidays, or working on-call. They also do not usually provide direct patient care, unless a staffing emergency arises. For many nurses, the schedule is as attractive as the salary.
The Charge Nurse, sometimes called Unit Supervisor, Nursing Team Leader, or Clinical Mentor, leads bedside nurses from the frontlines. The Charge Nurse works under the Manager and Assistant Manager to ensure patient care activities are safe and effective and that patients are satisfied with their care. The Charge Nurse is often a well-loved bedside nurse who demonstrates leadership qualities and aspires for more responsibility, so is promoted to the role of Charge Nurse.
Charge Nurses work with the interdisciplinary team, such as physicians, social workers, case managers, bedside nurses, nurses aides, and pharmacists, to ensure each patient on the Unit is receiving safe quality care. This nurse checks in on each patient and family to ensure satisfaction with the care they are receiving. Any problems which arise and can not be dealt with by the bedside nurse will be handled by the Charge Nurse. Bedside nurses know to “go up the chain of command” to deal with problems. The bedside nurse reports to the Charge Nurse during the shift.
In a perfect world, Charge Nurses are not assigned patients while having the added responsibilities of being in charge of the Unit, but in reality, many Charge Nurses have at least 1 patient assigned to them. In well staffed large hospitals or States where ratio laws prevent this, such as California, Charge Nurses will not have to provide direct patient care while running the Unit.
How to Become a Charge Nurse
Years of experience and gaining leadership experiences, such as participating in education and research projects, joining committees, and seeking out preceptor opportunities for new hires or nursing students, will look great to a manager who can promote the RN to Charge Nurse.
Most Charge Nurses are hardworking bedside nurses who demonstrate leadership skills and a desire to work in the role of Charge Nurse.
Required Education, Certifications, and Contact Hours for Charge Nurses
A Bachelor’s degree is not usually required unless the hospital has a Magnet Designation or is on the pathway. However, the more education a nurse has the better it looks for management to give added responsibilities. Completing higher education demonstrates a commitment to start and finish something and suggests a better understanding of the field of nursing. Also, the BSN program includes leadership classes.
There isn’t a certificate specific for Charge Nurses but having the specialty certification in one’s area of nursing demonstrates higher education and expertise in that area. Having more knowledge in a specific area of nurses is tremendously helpful when considering the Charge Nurse will be helping the interdisciplinary team critically think to determine the best method of care for a patient. And for most hospitals, the protocol for a patient who is having a pressing medical issue is for the bedside nurse to get the Charge Nurse involved to determine the best next step. Therefore the Charge Nurse should be as knowledgeable and experienced as possible.
As with every RN job having the Basic Life Support (BLS) certificate is required. And for RNs in critical care areas the Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certificate is required.
Salary of Charge Nurses
Because Charge Nurses usually work as both bedside and Charge nurse they are paid a differential on top of their hourly wage. The differential may be $2-8 per hour extra, depending on location, facility, and day or night shift.
Bedside, or Staff, Nurses make a median salary of $62,000 ($29.00/hour) so with an added $2-8 an hour added this can be anywhere from $66,000 to $72,000 per year.
Clinical Development Specialist / Training & Development Specialist
The Clinical Development Specialist, or Training & Development Specialist, is responsible for developing new hire orientation and other large training initiatives, providing ongoing training and creating and implementing new clinical programs and activities for staff. The Clinical Development Specialist promotes a positive learning environment by using principles of adult learning, quality improvement, and organizational development. Evaluating the effectiveness of teaching is an important part of these RNs responsibilities.
How to Become a Clinical Development Specialist
Many positions for this role are in the hospital setting. For this reason, recent acute care experience is often required along with the Basic Life Support (BLS) certificate. Applying at the hospital the RN already works is the easiest pathway to making the transition into this role. Creating a relationship with the hiring manager and speaking to human resources would also be helpful.
Required Education, Certifications, and Contact Hours for the Clinical Development Specialist
A Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is required by most healthcare facilities who employ this role. Having experience in teaching and/or leadership is often desired.
No certifications exist specifically for this role but holding certifications in nursing specialties, such as the CCRN, demonstrate professionalism and expertise in nursing.
Salary for Clinical Development Specialist
The median salary for the Clinical Development Specialist / Training & Development Specialist is $55,038. Most nurses in this role work Monday – Friday during the day with no holidays, nights, or weekends. This schedule is in high demand for many experienced nurses. Experience, certifications, location, and facility all affect the salary for this role.
Earn Your BSN Degree!
Earning the BSN degree will allow the RN to be hired into leadership roles at Magnet Designated hospitals and will qualify the RN to fill certain BSN roles in any facility. Years of experience are arguably just as important as education for many roles, therefore a smart way to earn the BSN is while working as an RN through a RN to BSN Bridge Program.