What ‘BSN in 10’ Means for Nursing

In December 2017, New York passed legislation mandating that all new nurses in the state must earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) within 10 years of initial licensure. Nurses who are currently enrolled in nursing programs or hold a license in New York are exempt - regardless of degree level. All other nurses run the risk of having their license suspended if they do not get a BSN within 10 years.

What Is a BSN? Why Do You Need It?

For nurses to obtain an RN license, they must graduate from an accredited program before taking the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). Several types of programs are available, including nursing diplomas, two-year associate degrees or four-year bachelor’s degrees.

BSN stands for Bachelor of Science in Nursing. If you’ve already achieved RN status through an associate’s degree program, enrolling in an RN-BSN program is the next logical step if you’re looking for career advancement. The good news is an RN-BSN program can be completed while you continue working as a nurse, which means you’ll advance your career without having to take time off.

BSN programs incorporate both coursework and clinical practice. The curriculum includes general education requirements, as well as courses focusing on topics like anatomy, physiology, biology and nutrition.

For nurses with an associate’s degree or certification, an RN-BSN program will use your previous coursework as a foundation for learning. RN-BSN programs are more focused on science-based learning and nursing skills instruction. Classes include things like:

  • Emergency Care
  • Nutrition
  • Health Assessment
  • Research and Scholarship for Evidence-Based Practice
  • Family, Community, and Population-Based Care
  • Public and Global Health
  • Issues and Trends in Nursing

Historically, nurses who obtain a BSN have been given more responsibility and better pay. However, the move to encourage all nurses to get a BSN is due to the increasing complexity of the American healthcare system. As one of the most important roles on the healthcare team, New York sets a precedence for academic excellence when it comes to nursing.

A Little History on “BSN in 10”

This is actually not the first time a BSN requirement has been in place for nurses. North Dakota required nurses to have a BSN until 2003, when it was overturned because of the negative effect it was having on the nursing shortage in the state.

This change in New York has been 14 years in the making. In 2010, the Institute of Medicine released a report calling for 80% of RNs to hold a BSN by 2020. This is related to a focus on increased quality of nursing care. Studies show that for each 10% increase in nurses with BSN degrees, there is a 5% decline in risk-adjusted patient mortality. Though the percentage of nurses with a BSN has increased from 50% in 60% since that report was released, there is still ground to be made on that goal.

For a large state like New York with 297,331 total nurses, passing this legislation sets a precedence for other states. Experts predict that other states will follow suit in the next few years.

Who Does This Apply To?

Onto the most important question - does this apply to you? This is how it breaks down:

  • If you already have a license in New York or are currently enrolled or pending acceptance into a nursing program as of December 19, 2017: No need to worry - you are being grandfathered in regardless of degree level.
  • If you are planning to apply to be a nurse in New York: You are still able to complete an associate’s degree first to obtain your license. But you will be required to attain a baccalaureate degree or higher within 10 years of initial licensure.
  • If you hold a license in a state outside of New York and want to work in New York, as a traveler or otherwise: You will be required to attain a baccalaureate degree or higher within 10 years of your initial licensure. Your ability to practice in New York will be suspended without that degree if it has been 10 years since you first got your nursing license. That means if you are applying for a license in New York in February 2018 but you got your initial license in June of 2010, you must attain a baccalaureate degree or higher by June of 2020 to continue practicing in New York.
  • If you hold a license in a state outside of New York but don’t want to work in New York: This does not currently affect you. However, many states have considered this legislation and were watching New York to see if they would implement. Since it passed in New York, it is likely that it will soon pass in other states. New Jersey already has pending legislation.

You can read the full bill here for all the details if you’re feeling ambitious. The board for Registered Professional Nurses in New York will also be publishing more information on the bill in the near future.

Here are some ways to start taking action now on Nomad:

We’re keeping a close eye on the implications this change has for our nurses - those working in New York as well as other states. As other states start to consider also making this change, we’ll be sure to make sure our nurses remain informed!


The Nomad Team

Last Updated:
January 23, 2018

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