The growth rate of jobs for registered nurses (RN) is projected to be more than double that of all other professions in the United States from 2018-2028, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Opportunities abound for RNs, making nursing a prime career choice.

There are generally three approaches to becoming an RN, according to Nurse Journal: an RN diploma, an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN). The benefits of a BSN are many and various. Higher pay and more career options are the most immediate, material benefits.

One less tangible benefit deserves focus, as it is tied to the necessities and realities of pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Unlike a would-be nurse pursuing a nursing diploma or ADN, the aspiring BSN-prepared nurse must take certain general education courses on top of the nursing-specific courses.

The Benefit of General Education Courses

The nursing core curriculum in the RN to BSN online at the University of Maine Fort Kent (UMFK) consists of 30 credit hours. Students may be able to transfer prior learning credits from their associate degree to meet the 120 credit-hour requirement for a BSN. In addition to the allowed transfer credits and credit hour requirements specific to nursing, students must also complete general education credits that they may be missing in such areas as literature, history and English composition.

For a highly technical and science-heavy career as nursing, what might general education courses have to offer? General education helps develop soft skills — the ability to rapidly apply critical thinking and clearly communicate clinical decisions to patients, their families and other members of the care team. BSN programs produce nurses who are able to handle not only illnesses, but also the complex interpersonal and cultural issues that patients present.

The study of general education subjects, which include the arts, history and language, increases overall understanding and capacity for empathy for others. By inducing thoughtful consideration of the whole human experience through a study of the humanities, the nurse gains a broader base of experience to draw from in their practice.

In short, general education courses make the nurse a more well-rounded and capable professional with the knowledge and experience to tackle an array of challenges outside of the specific technical demands of nursing. It fosters a holistic approach to problem-solving and the communication skills to effectively connect with others.

Setting the Foundation for a Lifetime

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing points out that a BSN degree provides a solid foundation for nurses at the beginning of their practice, and for future advancement in their careers and academic lives. Moreover, a BSN is required to pursue degrees at the graduate level, and the increasing complexity of healthcare calls for nurses with strong educational backgrounds.

A BSN degree is an investment in a satisfying, rewarding career, with a future full of promise for personal and professional growth. UMFK offers an online RN to BSN degree program for working nurses — a bridge program that acknowledges previous academic experience and allows nurses to complete their BSN in a convenient way.

Learn more about the UMFK online RN to BSN program.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses

Nurse Journal: Top 9 Advantages of a BSN Degree Why Nurses Need Liberal Arts

Nursing Education Perspectives: Nursing Humanities: Teaching for a Sense of Salience

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Nursing Education Programs: Baccalaureate Education