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What's Next After You Finish Your BSN?

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

The future is an unknown entity, one that can be frightening and unclear. Knowing what to do after a successful goal is completed can be complicated. Here we discuss what the focus could be after you finish a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and put your education into practice.

Learning Materials

In 1978, Barbara Carter developed the four fundamental patterns of knowing in nursing theory. Knowing is a cognitive process and is identified in four basic concepts, as follows:1

  • Empirical knowledge - Represents the scientific essentials in nursing. This pattern of knowledge is founded on evidence-based research and objective experiences.
  • Aesthetic knowledge - Subjective and intuition based. It calls for recognizing and appreciating the unique qualities of individual patients, as well as responding with compassion and understanding to help patients and their families navigate through the recovery process.
  • Personal knowledge - Defined by firsthand experiences and self-awareness.
  • Ethical knowledge - Refers to functioning within a framework of ethical standards to identify or judge what is correct or fair when there is no easy answer. This means drawing on knowledge and experience to identify and address legal, moral, and social issues with integrity and professionalism.

Nursing standards are the expectations of the profession. They are an anticipated and attainable level of performance by which actual performance can be compared. They lead nursing practice and direct the profession. They are important because they are the outline of what is expected in the profession. They are essential for self-evaluation and evaluation of other stakeholders. The standards also help in the understanding and respect of the various roles of the profession. The American Nurses Association (ANA) has developed a list of standards that is outlined in the chart below:

Standards Definition

I: Quality of practice The registered nurse systematically enhances the quality and effectiveness of nursing practice

II: Education The nurse attains knowledge and competency that reflects current nursing practice

III: Professional practice evaluation The nurse evaluates one’s own nursing practice in relation to professional practice standards and guideline, relevant statutes, rules and regulations.

IV: Collegiality The nurse interacts with and contribute to the professional development of peers and other health care providers as colleagues

V: Collaboration The nurse collaborates with the patient, family, and others in the conduct of nursing practice

VI: Ethics The nurse integrates ethical provisions in all areas of practice

VII: Research The nurse integrates research findings into practice

VIII: Resource utilization The nurse considers factors related to safety effectiveness, cost, and impact on practice in the planning and delivery of nursing services.

IX: Leadership The nurse provides leadership in the professional practice setting and the profession

Ongoing Development

Nurses are expected to identify and respond to an overabundance of new demands that rise from an ever-changing and increasingly complex health care system. Direct care nurses and nurse leaders are required to know new processes regarding regulations and accreditation, professional standards, increased responsibilities, changing health care technology, and financial urgencies. Competencies in the arena of practice, quality, competent and safe patient care, and accreditation regulations are already being constantly upgraded and utilized, thus keeping nurses and leaders on their toes.

Continuing Education

There usually are two kinds of continuing education in the nursing profession. The first is obligatory education to maintain an active license in the state of licensure. The second form allows for a more advanced nursing practice and to be eligible for higher-level nursing positions.

Continuing education units (CEUs) are a necessity for maintaining RN licensure and specialty certification. The amount needed depends on the state, and proof of completion should be retained. There is a multitude of ways to earn CEUs, and many are free of charge.

Arenas in which to find CEUs include the following:

  • Professional conferences
  • Professional organizations
  • Employers
  • Professional journals
  • Online through a multitude of professional and CEU websites

Using the Evidence

,a href="/degrees/studies/nursing/evidence-based-practice-quality-care-patient-safety">Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a problem-solving approach to the delivery of health care that integrates the best evidence from studies and patient care data in with clinician expertise and patient preferences and values.2 Health care that is evidence-based and directed in a caring setting leads to better clinical decisions and patient outcomes. Attainment of knowledge and skills in the EBP process provides nurses and other clinicians the tools needed to take tenure of their practices and change health care for the better.3

Important fundamentals of a best practice culture include the following:

  • EBP mentorship
  • Partnerships between academic and clinical settings
  • EBP champions
  • Clearly written research
  • Time and resources
  • Administrative support

Nursing is a highly respected profession, one that requires standards, professionalism, and quality performance. To achieve this, the nurse must commit to education and to meet the changing needs and achievements of health care. The nurse must also know how to keep his or her licensure up to date and must be current on new processes and procedures. Using evidence-based practice is the best way to have safe, efficient, and quality care for patients. Evidence-based practice also helps nurses maximize the influences they make, have made, and will make for their profession and their patients.

Are you interested in continuing nursing education? Learn about CTU’s Master of Science in Nursing degree program.

1. Maier, K. (n.d.). Art of knowing in nursing theory. Retrieved from about_6138000_art-knowing-nursing-theory.html
2. Current Nursing. (2013, September 18). Evidence based nursing. Retrieved from
3. Current Nursing. (2010, December 22). Nursing standards. Retrieved from

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program, go to Not all programs are available to residents of all states.
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