Nurse with elderly patientAs the baby boomer generation ages and the U.S. places growing emphasis on preventative care, America faces a looming nursing shortage that only higher education can address.

By 2022, more than 2 million nursing professionals will be needed to replace those retiring from the field.* To address that impending shortage and the nation’s rapidly changing healthcare needs, the Institute of Medicine recommends the share of nurses with Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees increase to 80% by 2020. It’s likely that online BSN programs, particularly RN to BSN online programs, will help answer that call.

From offering RNs a convenient way to pursue higher education to training nurses to meet the needs of an aging population, here are five ways online RN to BSN programs will help address America’s nursing shortage.

  1. Convenient continuing education for busy RNs
    Nursing is a rewarding career, but it’s also a busy one. With the ability to attend classes from the comfort of home, online RN to BSN programs provide nurses with the opportunity to complete a BSN degree while balancing work and family commitments. These online programs offer rigorous academics, cutting-edge technologies, high teacher-to-student ratios, and much more, all without the need to travel to class.
  2. Meeting RNs where they live
    Many nurses are interested in RN to BSN programs but can’t pursue a BSN degree simply because a program isn’t available at a local brick-and-mortar institution. This can be especially relevant in rural areas. Online RN to BSN programs enable nurses, even those living in remote areas, to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing without the need to travel long distances to class or to move closer to a university.
  3. Qualifications to care for an aging population
    America’s senior citizen population is set to soar in the not-too-distant future—a whopping 75% between 2010 and 2030 (69 million or one in five Americans). Since it’s estimated that 80% of older adults live with at least one chronic condition,§ nurses will be at the forefront of the surge, and BSN degrees—including those earned via online RN to BSN programs—can equip them with the advanced skills they’ll need to keep America’s aging population healthy.
  4. Leadership roles in a rapidly changing field
    From case management to health promotion, online BSN degree programs provide nurses with a convenient way to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to take on leadership roles, many of them supervisory, in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings. As the baby boomer generation ages, more and more of these leadership roles will need to be filled, and only those with a bachelor of science degree will be qualified to fill them.
  5. Post-graduate education
    It’s widely known that the higher a nurse’s education, the better the patient outcome. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is required for an RN to earn advanced nursing degrees, including master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as specialty certifications. Many some advanced nursing degrees come teaching credentials, something increasingly important as more veteran nurses begin retiring and the demand for nurse educators begins to rise.

Online RN to BSN programs are often the easiest way for nurses to receive the undergraduate nursing degree so vital to the future of patient care and nurse education. Ready to get your bachelors of science in nursing? Learn how Walden University’s Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)-accredited RN to BSN online program is helping more RNs earn their BSN degree.


*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Economic News Release, on the Internet at www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.t08.htm.

†The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, on the Internet at http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2010/The-Future-of-Nursing-Leading-Change-Advancing-Health.aspx

‡J. Knickman and E. Snell, The 2030 Problem: Caring for Aging Baby Boomers, Health Services Research 37(4), on the Internet at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1464018.

§National Council on Aging, Chronic Disease Management, on the Internet at www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/chronic-disease.

Walden University’s DNP, MSN, and BSN programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, D.C. 20036, 1-202-887-6791. CCNE is a national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate and graduate education programs. For students, accreditation signifies program innovation and continuous self-assessment.