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nursing student, nursing degree, Berkeley College

Nursing Program Chair Discusses Relationship Between Advanced Education and Expanded Career Opportunity



nursing student, nursing degree, Berkeley College


Students seeking a career that provides opportunities to help people are often drawn to nursing. For good reason, too, since this career field presents a chance to impact lives in a positive way that can also be quite rewarding. Yet, it can be difficult to decide which particular academic path to take if you want to become a professional nurse. From Practical Nursing Certificates to Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees, there are several options to choose from, and deciding which will put you on the best career path is not always clear.

The unique Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) to Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program at the Berkeley College School of Health Studies offers potential nursing students considerable flexibility in a comprehensive curriculum that can prepare them for a bright future in healthcare. That’s the core message Dr. Josiane Hickson, Chair of the Practical Nurse and Patient Care Technician Program at Berkeley, wants potential students to understand.

As the only on-site LPN to B.S.N. program in New Jersey, Berkeley College provides an appealing option for students who have completed an LPN program and wish to continue on to B.S.N. Hickson’s passion for this program is obvious, as she explains: “This program is my baby, so I want it to be successful, and I want the students to be successful.” She says being the only program of its kind in New Jersey means that “all eyes are on us,” and that there’s a lot at stake for students.

In particular, the healthcare industry is placing greater and greater emphasis on hiring nurses with higher levels of education and, according to Hickson, specifically those with Bachelor’s degrees.

“There’s a push to have nurses prepared with baccalaureate-level experience or better. Nurses with credentials below that level are having increased difficulty finding jobs in hospitals. In healthcare, we’re anticipating there’s going to be a nursing shortage, probably between 2020 and 2025, because so many nurses are going to be retiring. We need to anticipate what the workforce is going to look like,” she says.

While the increased potential for finding a job in this field is understandably appealing, it’s not the only reason to consider an LPN to B.S.N. program versus other programs. According to Hickson, while a typical LPN certificate can lead to jobs in related fields like nursing homes or in-home care, nurses who want to work in hospitals will likely need to get their B.S.N. degrees.

“Their focus is to get nurses to the next level and standardize an entry point from which nurses should start their education. They’re being told if they do not have a Bachelor’s degree they cannot be in a leadership position. The expectation is going higher and higher – they’re raising the bar,” Hickson says, explaining the importance of getting a higher-level degree versus a typical nursing certification.

What’s more, having a Bachelor’s degree in nursing could have significant financial benefits. According to Hickson, getting a B.S.N. degree for most professionals in the nursing field could mean “a better salary, a better position, and a greater likelihood you’ll be in an area that you want to be in versus one that you have to be in.” Statistics seem to agree with Hickson; recent data has shown B.S.N. holders earn an average salary of $69,000 compared to just over $39,000 for those with an RN level of education.

Along with potential financial success, increased professional success as a nurse also appears to be related to education. Studies have shown nurses who have more advanced degrees and more experience produce better patient outcomes. Hickson says this means that hospitals and primary care centers should be inclined to put an emphasis on nurses with greater levels of education, because they want to hire nurses they can rely on to consistently achieve success.

“The organization you work for is invested in you, and the likelihood is that the nurses will invest right back in the organization,” Hickson says of employers who are recruiting baccalaureate-educated nurses.

However, curious students should know the LPN to B.S.N. option is extremely challenging. Hickson emphasizes that the program at Berkeley is intense and requires real dedication.

“What I do tell the students before they come into our program is to get your life in order first,” she says, discussing how important it is for students to prepare for this potentially life-changing program. “Make sure that you speak to your family about your commitment to going to school. Speak to your employers, figure out if your job is going to afford you the opportunity to take days off for your classes and find out how supportive they will be.”

As demanding as the program can be, Hickson still has plenty of confidence in what the program can do for students.

“We have a lot of great people here who were strategically chosen for their experience. We have a very diverse faculty on so many levels, whether it be in terms of age, experience, or ethnicity, who all work to meet the needs of our students,” Hickson said of the program’s professors.

If you want to know more about the Berkeley College LPN to B.S.N. program, you can visit the program’s webpage or request more info. You can also start your application online and begin your journey toward a potential career as a registered nurse.