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The BSN Blues; What to Do When You Don’t Have a BSN, but the Jobs You Are Finding All Ask For One

The BSN Blues; What to Do When You Don’t Have a BSN, but the Jobs You Are Finding All Ask For One

So you’ve been sticking your neck out there and looking for a new nursing job. Only to come accross a roadblock….quickly.

Most of the jobs you find seem to be a perfect match. Perfect until you get to the education section of the

Position after position are all asking for a Bachelors degree in nursing. Which you don’t have.

Does this sound familiar? You see a great position online or in the newspaper. It sounds fantastic. You begin doing a mental check off of the experience and skills you have versus what’s listed on the description.

  • Experience-check
  • Job description- check
  • Skills-check

Then you get to the education and like a ton of bricks it hits you. HARD.   B…S…N.

Of course this wouldn’t feel so painful if perhaps you had a BSN. But you don’t. So what do you do now?

Think back to when you got your Associates in nursing or your diploma. You probably felt all set in terms of your career. After all, “there’s a nursing shortage” ……right?

Or maybe you always intended to make it back to school, but life got in the way. Between family obligations, illnesses and other time and financial constraints, it just didn’t happen.

The kicker is, as you look around, you can definitely see that the BSN is increasingly becoming the standard of entry into nursing and more and more employers are expecting it for new and seasoned nurses.

Whether you agree with this standard or not, the most important thing is to be aware of it and to know how to handle it like the smart nursing career ninja you are. (yes, I just called you a ninja).

So I here’s how you handle this:

1. Apply anyway

Especially if the description says BSN preferred (i.e. not REQUIRED).

I advise you only to go this route if you truly feel you have the skills, experience, and knowledge for that job. If the job is beyond your capability and there will not be training that could allow you to perform well, then degree or no degree, this position is probably not for you.

Nevertheless, if you choose the option of applying anyway, be prepared to be remarkable.

You have to come to the table with other skills to enhance yourself.

  • Do you have any certifications?
  • Do you belong to any organizations?
  • Have you led any teams or initiatives?
  • Do you have any awards?
  • Do you participate in any committees?
Do you have outstanding “soft skills”?
  • Resiliency
  • Adaptability/flexiblity
  • Strong problem solving skills
  • Team leadership
  • etc

Figure out how to market yourself powerfully. Whether you like it or not, when you apply for a job you essentially become the “product”.

Potential employers are observing:

  • How this product is packaged
  • How much risk would there be in hiring this product
  • Do I like this product
  • Will this product add value to my team/dept./unit
Other suggestions are to create a stellar resume and sharpen your interview skills so that you stand out…WAY out from the other applicants regardless of your degree.

If you choose this option (to apply for the job anyway) I would still suggest you explore options for higher education eventually.

Here’s a little scenario for you to think about:

Two Non BSN nurses apply for the same job. Both make a great impression on the hiring authority. One is in school for her BSN and the other is not.

Who do you think has a higher chance of getting the job?


2. Go back to school

Before you get huffy about how I am stating the obvious, hear me out. I can almost guess what you are thinking:

  • You are busy
  • You don’t have the funds
  • You hate school
  • You are too old
  • Yadda Yadda Yadda
I totally get it. But get this: the BSN is here to stay folks. If I haven’t said it enough, it is the new standard of entry for nursing; and for countless reasons.

I want you to explore your options. Many colleges and universities now offer online courses that you can take right from home.

Also, remember that you don’t have to go wild and sign up for 14 credits. In fact, I would not recommend anything even close to that.

How about just taking 1 class. Getting your feet wet again. Get your mind back into the school thing. It is definitely wiser to ease into this than to go all out and feel overwhelmed.

Do a search for programs offered locally and nationally online. Gather your information and make a financially and time related smart decision.

One last thing, please don’t let age be a factor. Did you know there are 90 year olds who have published books, graduated from college, and started businesses. Yes, I said 90.

90 year old gets masters degree: (click to read story) abc news

90 year old publishes book: (click to read story) prlog.org

What’s your excuse again?

Talk soon,


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3 Responses to The BSN Blues; What to Do When You Don’t Have a BSN, but the Jobs You Are Finding All Ask For One

  1. Irene Pacheco says:

    I did make the change because the employer only preferred the BSN; not required it.
    The change is good, and I wouldn’t mind more education, but the one thing the article didn’t address is how to get funds.

    I am also older, but it’s the lack of funds that blocks my path. What are some solutions?

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