What Can You Do with a BSN? 15 Career Paths to Consider

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What can you do with a BSN? There are lots of BSN benefits and potential job outcomes to consider. Inside the hospital, you might become a medical-surgical, cardiac care, or ER nurse. Nursing jobs outside the hospital include clinical research nurse, school nurse and nurse educator.

Smiling Nurse

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree could open many different doors for you. If you’ve ever wondered, “What can you do with a BSN?” now could be the time to find out. Perhaps you’ll stabilize wounded patients in the emergency room or provide direct healthcare services to at-risk populations out in the community. A BSN degree can help make your vision a reality, whatever your nursing future holds.

In addition to providing ample opportunity, a BSN will give you the advantage to change and adapt your nursing career as you go. Yet, with so many BSN career options, how do you find one to fit your nursing career goals? It will help first to explore some of the many types of nursing careers, including nursing jobs outside the hospital.

Read on to discover the answer to the question, “What jobs can you get with a BSN?” and to find out how the University of St. Thomas Houston’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program can help you get started.

Top BSN Benefits

Before we dive into the question of, “What jobs can you get with a BSN?” it can be helpful to know more about nursing degree options. Becoming a registered nurse (RN) with an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree is possible. An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) usually takes less time than a BSN. However, if you choose UST’s ABSN program, you could graduate with your bachelor’s degree in as few as 12 months.

So, why choose a BSN instead of an ADN? There are lots of BSN benefits to consider. First, research shows that BSN-prepared nurses may facilitate better patient outcomes because they can provide better care. In addition, healthcare employers prefer to hire BSN-prepared nurses, particularly for higher-level positions like nurse manager.

UST ABSN student in lab working with sim manikin

Other BSN benefits include opening more opportunities for your career in the future. With a BSN, you could pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. This could pave the way for pursuing board certification as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), such as a nurse anesthetist or a certified nurse midwife (CNM).

What Can You Do with a BSN in the Hospital?

Now that you understand the top BSN benefits let’s explore what you can do with your degree. Nursing jobs often work in hospital settings, though there are plenty of opportunities outside the hospital. (We’ll look at those later). In the hospital, there are lots of nursing specialties to choose from.

1. Medical-Surgical Nurse

Medical-surgical (med-surg) nursing is a popular nursing specialty. It involves the care of patients preparing for surgery and those recovering from it. Their job is to ensure patients are fully informed about the surgery (e.g., they know what to expect), answer any lingering questions, and help patients prepare for and navigate the recovery process.

Med-surg nurses work in hospitals, surgical centers, skilled nursing facilities, and inpatient care units.

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Patience
  • Communication skills
  • High-level critical thinking skills

2. Labor and Delivery (L&D) Nurse

This type of registered nurse cares for women and babies during childbirth and afterward. L&D nurses provide information, guidance, and hands-on clinical care alongside physicians, midwives, and other professionals. Additional duties include monitoring the mother’s vital signs, entering data into digital medical record systems, working holistically with families to answer all questions, providing a warm point of contact and more.

labor and delivery nurse holding baby

L&D nurses build strong connections with patients. While they generally work 12-hour shifts, it’s common for them to stay past their shift change just to be there when the baby is born. L&D nurses work as staff nurses in a labor and delivery or women’s health unit.

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Adaptability (because things change quickly)
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Good communication skills
  • Excellent clinical judgment (for responding to signs of complications)

3. Emergency Room (ER) Nurse

If you like working in a fast-paced environment, handling unexpected events and positively impacting patient lives, emergency room nursing may be for you. Serving on the frontline of triage and treatment for patients, ER nurses see it all — including heart attacks, strokes, gunshot wounds and car accident victims.

An ER nurse will typically appreciate a challenge and is expected to adapt quickly in any given situation. The duties of an ER nurse cover a lot of ground, including taking vital signs, administering medication(s) and charting and monitoring patients. ER nurses work in regional trauma centers or emergency departments within smaller hospital systems.

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Calm under pressure
  • Multitasking skills
  • Listening skills
  • Leadership

4. Travel Nurse

What can you do with a BSN that involves travel yet will keep you in the hospital? Consider becoming a travel nurse. Travel nursing isn’t a specialty but a mode of work. At any given moment, hospitals and other healthcare facilities can experience gaps in their workforce due to lengthy absences, staff training and staff shortages. They hire travel nurses to fill in the gaps.

Travel nurses can work anytime, anywhere. Their job placements can range from four to 13 weeks or one to two years if working internationally. Travel nursing jobs cover a range of specialties—from ER nursing to critical care nursing and beyond.

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Professionalism
  • Adaptability
  • Organizational skills
  • An adventurous spirit

5. Plastic Surgery Nurse

nurse holding clipboard

Plastic surgery nurses provide pre- and post-operative care for patients undergoing cosmetic surgery treatments, including:

  • Liposuction
  • Breast augmentation, reduction and reconstruction
  • Body contouring/lifts
  • Abdominoplasty
  • Face or neck lift
  • Transplantation of hair
  • Procedures for gender reassignment

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Great bedside manner
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Patient education skills

6. Cardiac Care Nurse

A cardiac care nurse provides care to patients suffering from a range of heart conditions, including coronary artery disease (CAD), heart failure and heart attack. They often work with patients recovering from cardiac-related procedures, such as bypass surgery.

A cardiac care nurse can handle various job duties, from inserting IVs and administering medication to performing stress test evaluations and monitoring electrocardiograms.

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Patient and family caregiver education skills
  • Compassion and empathy
  • Calmness under pressure when emergencies happen

7. Geriatric Nurse

Aging comes with various physical, cognitive, social and emotional challenges. Geriatric nurses specialize in helping patients navigate those challenges. They need in-depth knowledge of the aging process, how it affects patients and common age-related conditions and diseases.

Geriatric nurses strive to promote their patients’ health and wellness and improve their quality of life. They may do everything from establishing treatment plans to lifting immobile patients to providing compassionate care to those at the end of life.

nurse speaking with older patient

Qualities needed for this position

  • Emotional resilience
  • Patience
  • Listening skills
  • Ability to identify nonverbal communication cues
  • Ability to monitor for elder abuse

Nursing Jobs Outside of the Hospital

While there are plenty of opportunities within hospital settings, nurses may pursue nursing jobs outside of the hospital. So, what jobs can you get with a BSN that aren’t in hospital settings? Let’s take a look!

1. Public Health Nurse

Public health nursing may be something to consider if you’re passionate about education, advocacy and activism. Instead of treating one person at a time, public health nurses care for entire populations and communities.

PHNs can work in many settings, including health departments, homes, schools, community health settings, clinics and mobile units.

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Project management skills
  • People skills
  • Problem-solving skills

2. Forensics Nurse

Forensics nurses provide compassionate and specialized treatment for patients suffering from the health effects of trauma or violence.

These nurses provide consulting and testimony in civil and criminal cases. They also weigh in on injuries sustained, how they may have happened, the care a survivor was provided, and what that care may have indicated regarding the case. Forensic nursing care is not separate from other types of medical treatment but is integrated into each patient’s care needs.

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Empathy
  • Attention to detail
  • Comfort with public speaking

3. Legal Nurse Consultant

Legal nurse consultants assist attorneys with informed advice and apply a medical perspective to cases.

With deep roots in clinical nursing practice, these nurses apply the nursing process to analyzing relevant, complicated material in legal matters. Legal nurse consultants are essential in bridging the gap between the legal system, medical research and patient outcomes.

nurse speaking with woman at table

Legal nurse consultants have the flexibility to work at independent consulting businesses, insurance corporations and law firms.

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Critical thinking skills
  • Ability to recall information and details
  • Organization
  • Public speaking skills

4. School Nurse

School nurses care for students who become ill or injured at school. School nurses evaluate students and determine whether they can be treated at school or need to see a doctor. They are also responsible for administering medications that students have been prescribed by their doctors, such as inhalers and allergy medications. In addition, a school nurse must be vigilant in identifying the potential signs of child abuse or neglect.

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Ability to work with children and parents
  • Communication skills
  • Empathy
  • Patience

5. Telehealth Nurse

Telehealth nursing has grown in popularity recently, and it’s no wonder why. With a telehealth visit, patients can video call a nurse and doctor to receive routine treatment. One obvious advantage of not meeting in person is to reduce the spread of germs. However, the service is also helpful to those in rural communities who may have trouble driving out to a hospital or practice for treatment.

nurse speaking with patient on computer

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Ability to use technology comfortably
  • Communication skills
  • Adaptability

6. Nurse Recruiter

If you’ve previously thought about pursuing a career in human resources (or perhaps you did indeed become an HR specialist) and would like to switch to nursing, becoming a nurse recruiter could be a good choice. Nurse recruiters are HR specialists who focus entirely on finding and hiring qualified nurses for open positions in their facilities.

Nurse recruiters are responsible for posting job ads, processing applications, responding to qualified candidates and conducting preliminary interviews. They may also travel to job fairs.

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills, including writing
  • Strong understanding of HR regulations
  • Organization and networking skills

7. Nurse Educator

There is an ongoing shortage of RNs in the U.S., and one primary reason for this is the need for more nursing faculty members at nursing schools. If you want to make a meaningful impact on individual patients and the healthcare system, becoming a nurse educator is the right career path for you.

Typically, a nurse educator is an RN with at least a few years of clinical experience at the bedside. They then earn a graduate degree in nursing to qualify to teach nursing students at colleges and universities. They may also work at teaching hospitals, where they can help students work through clinical rotations.

nurse speaking to class of nursing students

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Professionalism
  • Leadership
  • Teaching skills
  • Commitment to lifelong learning

3. Clinical Research Nurse

Another possible answer to the question, “What jobs can you get with a BSN?” is to become a clinical research nurse. Continuous innovations and advancements characterize the medical field. Every day, medical researchers look for new cures, develop new vaccines and create or improve medical technologies. Clinical research nurses support these initiatives.

These nurses work primarily in research settings, where they liaise between medical scientists conducting clinical trials and the patients participating. They are responsible for obtaining informed consent from study participants, collecting data and monitoring patient safety conditions.

Qualities needed for this position:

  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving ability
  • Analytical reasoning

Getting Started on Your ABSN

So, what can you do with a BSN? There’s only one way to find out, and the University of St. Thomas Houston’s Accelerated BSN program can help you get there in as few as 12 months.

Through online coursework, hands-on labs and in-hospital clinical rotations at top area hospitals, you can leverage your previous non-nursing bachelor’s degree to earn your BSN. Contact our admissions team to find out how you can get started.