I think your hubby gets a gold star for asking you to think of this issue. Certainly, you want to look for NLN accreditation but personally, professional to professional, I think sometimes the NLN accredits programs that may not be as rigorous as others. Still and all, if you don't plan to get a Phd and write for NIH grants, maybe you don't care about this. This isn't part of my plans either.
I do think, however, the degree program should be horizon expanding and expose you to new thoughts. I also would be nervous about a program that only required observation clinicals. I also think that a BSN should expand you beyond the status quo and so I do not think they should accept your work hours as clinicals. I've known plenty of BSN students who did clinicals at their work place, but in a different capacity. OFten they did clinicals in what they aspired to be. If you have an RN to BSN program in your locale, go visit it. You might be pleansantly surprised. When I graduated from my diploma program in '78, their were horror stories about diploma nurses having to repeat med surg rotations to get a BSN. (And if their is anything that a diploma program did in a superior way, it was to turn out one hell of a good med surg nurse.) RN progression programs have gotten, I think, alot more user friendly. I got my BSN in '90, MSN in '95 from a state university.
Once you get past that big scratchy hairball in your throat that is caused by coming into the realm where your proud diploma credential is not considered sufficient (and I think sometime some researcher will describe this as a phase of RN to BSN progression) then you learn that the BSN often gives your wonderful opportunities to sit in a room with experienced nurses like yourselves and contemplate aspects of nursing that you haven't had the time to previously. My program allowed us to "test out" of basic nursing curricula using the NLN test. As my advisor said, of course you have a knowledge base comparable to a graduating BSN student. Don't dilly-dally; just take the tests and get on with the future. My university based program was rigorous and traditional. We wrote APA papers. We did a community health class and clinical. We did a leadership class and clinical. And I think those were our only two clinicals and I loved both of them. We did a research class. It's a new way of thinking and I draw on it daily.
I live in a rural state, so increasingly I believe that on-line degrees are not just the future, they're critical in getting a large number of nurses able to access the BSN, but do find a degree program that will give you more than just a piece of paper. Find the program that will challenge your thinking and broaden your notion of nursing. I also think that the dialectic of setting in a room full of nurses and having a discussion is pretty hard to replace or duplicate on-line. Please, those of you who have gotten on-line degrees, understand that I'm not trying to negate that way of learning. I think that face to face discussion with all of its' spontanaeity and non-verbal communication is a unique wonderful feature of on-site ed and not particularly replaceable. Anyone who has ever come out of their classes exhausted but so energized they couldn't quit thinking about the class discussion for a while will know what I mean.
BTW, my university really understood that they were serving a working population and they OFTEN clustered courses that a part time BSN/MSN student might take on the same day, so that you could be on-campus one day per week and that helped make the BSN manageable.
At my graduation, the dean said that she never understood why people used the expression that "___university gave them their degree" because she always felt she had to wrestle hers away from the granting institution and that resonated with all of us, but I have a credential I can take anywhere including a Phd program in order to learn to do NIH level research.
[This message has been edited by MollyJ (edited February 25, 2001).]