Discover why it’s critical for RNs to continue their education, and how online nursing programs can help make it happen.

Male nurse speaking to young child in hospital bed.

A landmark 2010 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) raised a critical goal for the nursing profession: to achieve higher levels of education so that they can be true partners in the effort to reshape the U.S. healthcare landscape, especially in light of changes resulting from the Affordable Care Act.* It became obvious to the IOM that a transformation of the nursing profession would be a key factor in improving the quality of healthcare delivery.

The 80/20 Goal for Nursing Education

As a result of its findings, the IOM made several major recommendations for positive changes, including the “80/20” goal, which states that 80% of registered nurses should have a 4-year BS in Nursing degree (BSN) by 2020.* Online nursing degree programs such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) completion program are specifically designed to enhance RNs’ education and provide the knowledge and skills needed to successfully navigate the new demands of healthcare delivery.

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Four Reasons RNs With BSN Degrees Will Play an Important Role in Improving Healthcare:

  1. There are more than 3 million nurses in the U.S., comprising the largest group of healthcare professionals in the industry. Millions of better-educated nurses will result in significant, measurable improvements in healthcare delivery at hospitals, clinics, emergency rooms, operating rooms, intensive care units (ICUs), pediatric intensive care units (PICUs), public health departments, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, home healthcare services, and other healthcare delivery settings.
  2. Nurses spend more time with patients and their families than any other type of healthcare professional. Nurses not only provide compassionate and expert care for patients, they also advocate for their patients, helping ensure their concerns and needs are addressed, and that they receive the care they need.
  3. 80% of Americans trust nurses far more than any other professional in any industry, and believe they can depend on nurses to protect their health and safety and be their advocates.
  4. Nurses’ honesty and ethical standards were rated as “very high” or “high,” a full 15 points above any other profession.

Online Nursing Degree Programs: Learn While You Work

An online education uniquely suits RNs, who often work double shifts, holidays, nights, and weekends. With motivation and perseverance, nurses can take full advantage of online nursing degree programs to update and enhance their knowledge and skills, advance their careers, and simultaneously help improve the quality of healthcare in the U.S. Some accredited institutions, including Walden University, offer CCNE-accredited nursing programs online:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) Completion Program
    Some universities and colleges offer two BSN tracks online —an RN-BSN track and an accelerated RN-BSN-MSN track. Each type of completion program prepares you with advanced skills in leadership, decision-making, informatics, collaboration, research, and other critical skills nurse leaders need to be effective.
  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
    Depending on the nursing degree program, several specialization options may be offered online, including leadership and management, nursing education, nursing informatics, public health, psychiatric-mental health, adult-gerontology nurse practitioner (AGNP), adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, and family nurse practitioner.
  • Doctoral Programs
    Gain the high-level knowledge that can ultimately prepare you for influential positions at the very top of the nursing profession with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

Salaries and Job Market for Nurses

The job market for registered nurses (RNs) is expected to grow by 15% between 2016 and 2026, much faster than average compared to other professions. In 2017, the median annual salary for RNs was $70,000, while the highest 10% earned more than $104,100.

Explore Walden University’s online nursing degree programs for undergraduates and graduate students. Continue your education and advance your career goals. Earn your degree in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.

*Institute of Medicine, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health Report (2010), on the Internet at

†Gallup, Social Issues, Americans Rate Nurses Highest on Honesty, Ethical Standards, on the Internet at

‡Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses, on the Internet at

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.

The MSN nurse practitioner specializations are designed to prepare graduates to qualify to sit for national nurse practitioner certification exams and to prepare graduates who possess an active registered nurse (RN) license to practice as nurse practitioners. However, each state Board of Nursing has its own academic and certification requirements and issues its own credential for an RN to be permitted to practice as a nurse practitioner in that state. Walden enrollment advisors can provide information relating to national certification exams and guidance relating to the state-by-state requirements for practice as a nurse practitioner; however, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand, evaluate, and comply with all requirements relating to national certification exams for the state in which he or she intends to practice as requirements vary widely. Walden makes no representations or guarantee that completion of Walden coursework or programs will permit an individual to obtain national certification or to obtain state licensure, authorization, endorsement, or other state credential.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,

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