Don’t confuse a RN with a BSN. RN means “registered nurse” and it is a license allowing one to work. BSN means Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and it is one of the ways one can academically qualify to sit for the licensing exam that leads to acquiring a RN license.
It is not the only path. When I became a nurse, diploma schools still existed with generally a three year program; the last of which was essentially working as a RN without pay in a hospital… the hospital which ran the school. These are much less common today than they once were.
Then there is the Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) path. Generally two years in length and commonly associated with a community college.
Finally there are those educated in the university system and who earn a four year college degree, the BSN.
The exam that these three different kinds of programs qualify one to take is exactly the same, no matter where you take it or how you prepared for it. The national licensing exam is called the NCLEX-RN. Every RN in the country takes it to qualify to get that first license.
Armed with either a diploma, ADN, or BSN, along with a passing grade on the NCLEX-RN, one presents themselves to the state board of nursing where they live and apply for a RN license.
Five, ten , twenty years down the road, if you need a license to practice in a new state, you merely present your old license from wherever, some cash, and some paperwork and it will be issued. You will not have to take the NCLEX-RN again.
When I became a nurse, any RN with a pulse and a license was hireable. These days preference is being made for BSNs over the other two forms of academic preparation. There was talk of some states requiring a BSN as entry level for licensure but the realities of the shrinking workforce has squelched that, at least for now. I also mention that at the hospitals where I’ve worked, none of them paid any sort of premium for a BSN over any other sort of educational preparation. A RN is a RN, in other words.
What cannot be debated is that the opportunities for ADNs and diploma school grads are becoming fewer and fewer. In my state, all school nurses have a minimum of a BSN, as an example. But the hospital setting? Nursing homes? They still need someone with a pulse and a license. A RN, in other words.