A Bright Job Outlook for BSN Nursing Grads

Dec 10, 2013, 9:00 AM

Graduates of entry-level baccalaureate and master’s nursing programs are much more likely to have job offers by graduation or soon after, compared with graduates from other fields, according to new data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). A national survey of deans and directors from U.S. nursing schools found that 59 percent of new bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) graduates had job offers at the time of graduation.

That’s substantially higher than the national average across all professions (29.3 percent). At four to six months after graduation, the survey found that 89 percent of new BSN graduates had secured employment in the field.

“Despite concerns about new college graduates finding employment in today’s tight job market, graduates of baccalaureate nursing programs are finding positions at a significantly higher rate than the national average,” said AACN President Jane Kirschling. “As more practice settings move to require higher levels of education for their registered nurses, we expect the demand for BSN-prepared nurses to remain strong as nurse employers seek to raise quality standards and meet consumer expectations for safe patient care.”

In August 2013, AACN conducted an online survey of nursing schools offering entry-level baccalaureate and graduate programs in the U.S., to better assess the experience of new graduates seeking employment. Based on data collected from 413 schools, the average job offer rate at the time of graduation was 59 percent for new nurses. By comparison, the National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted a national survey of 38,000 new college graduates across disciplines and found that only 29.3 percent of new graduates in 2012 had a job offer at graduation.

The AACN survey also looked at new RNs graduating from entry-level master’s programs and found that these nurses were even more likely to secure positions soon after graduation. Sixty-seven percent of them had jobs at graduation, and 90 percent had jobs four to six months after completing their studies.

Additionally, AACN asked nursing schools to identify if employers in their region were requiring or indicating a preference for hiring new nurses with a BSN. Based on responses from 515 schools of nursing, 43.7 percent of hospitals and other health care settings are requiring new hires to have a BSN (up 4.6 percentage points since 2012), while 78.6 percent of employers are expressing a strong preference for BSN graduates.

In its landmark future of nursing report, released in 2010, the Institute of Medicine recommended that 80 percent of the nation’s nursing workforce have BSN or higher degrees by the year 2020.

Read the AACN research brief.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.