Degree in the arts vs. degree in nursing

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    So, many new grad nurses are finding that their BSNs are as worthless as an BA in English or Art History.

    The defense of "worthless" BA degrees is that a liberal arts education isn't meant to prepare you for a career, it's meant to make you a more educated, well-rounded person, whether it leads to a successful career or not.

    Does the same apply to a BSN? I think most people who pursue nursing degrees do so in the hope (illusion) that it will lead to employment. Is there any inherent benefit in nursing education if you can't find a nursing job?

    My personal opinion is that there is none. If you want a general education in human biology you can go for a bio degree. If you're interested in the human side of healthcare you can go for a psych degree. Learning nursing skills that you will never get to practice is frustrating and a waste of time.
  2. 13 Comments so far...

  3. 2
    I do not think this true for everyone. I don't understand how people go to school, usually as a second career, and the whole time thing tehre are going to be miraculous jobs just waiting for them. I do know people that just have graduated and gotten jobs within a year of graduating. No, it's not easy but it isn't for anything right now. So many people have flocked to anything medical with this crazy idea in mind, and I suppose it's not entirely crazy with all the misinformed articles and commericials, as well as persuasive misinformed parents or spouses. People don't realize that although "people will always get sick" people taht lost their jobs also lost their insurance so obviously the medical field is going to hurt as well.

    The point is yes a BSN is a great degree and very worthwhile for those that really chose nursing because we want to be nurses.
    Jessy_RN and CNM2B201? like this.
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    My BSN degree program required several social sciences and humanities classes. Nothing to do with nursing directly, everything to do with becoming a well-rounded human being.

    Nursing is like any other specialty field. Architects are not guaranteed a job upon graduation, despite the fact that they are prepared for a specialty in a liberal arts setting. Nursing is the same way.

    And let me tell you, I also have another degree, a liberal arts degree. I'd say my nursing degree prepped me more. First of all, there was a liberal arts component. Secondly, it actually prepared me for a career. Two birds with one stone.

    You sound angry that you can't find a job. That's not the fault of your degree. With your BSN, you still qualify for the same exact jobs that you would if you had a BS in biology...slinging coffee at the local coffeeshop, administrative assistant anywhere, retail, etc as well as those jobs at the job fairs on campus that advertise "All degrees encouraged to apply". In addition, you qualify for nursing positions.
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    Most people obtain a BSN in part because they want to provide security for future employment and they want to be prepared for the possibility of higher education in nursing. New nurses today will get jobs eventually if they keep job hunting. It can be quite inconvenient and expensive to have to pursue a BSN in the future just to retain one's job. That is why it is advised to get a BSN at the beginning or soon in one's nursing career. If you start out with a BSN, you don't have to be concerned that an employer may give you an ultimatum down the road. And in those jobs where a four year degree, unspecified, is helpful in getting hired, a BSN is just as good as a liberal arts degree.
    Jessy_RN, Faith213, and OB-nurse2013 like this.
  6. 1
    Quote from BluegrassRN
    You sound angry that you can't find a job. That's not the fault of your degree. With your BSN, you still qualify for the same exact jobs that you would if you had a BS in biology...slinging coffee at the local coffeeshop, administrative assistant anywhere, retail, etc as well as those jobs at the job fairs on campus that advertise "All degrees encouraged to apply". In addition, you qualify for nursing positions.
    Not angry, exactly, and I'm still hopeful that I'll find a job eventually. However, the thought has come up on other threads that maybe schools should consider scaling back nursing enrollment to ease the glut of nurses, so new grads who do make it through the program would have an easier time finding work. Now, you wouldn't suggest that schools should stop pumping out psych grads or art grads or English grads, because we recognize that the arts degree is not intended to prepare one directly for employment and the degree holders aren't competing with each other for the same jobs. I am wondering where the logic breaks down in terms of nursing degrees.
    BluegrassRN likes this.
  7. 0
    I graduated with what I call a useless degree in 2003 although the kind of jobs I wanted never realy required a degree or a specific major. My first job was actually teaching high school because like many others it's all I thought I could do. I basically sat through a two week program, paid some money (which I got back after completion), filled out a form, and got a teacher's license.

    Having said all of that, I still don't know what I'd do differenitly if I were 21 again and just receiving my bachelor's degree. At 21 I wouldn't have been able to stand nursing school, but in hindsight I wish I'd gotten the BSN then instead of now. I really don't think I'd have gone straight to work as a nurse, at least not a floor nurse, but it seems to have more utility than what I already have. I think I'm just a professional student. I'm lucky though in that education is cheap here, and this (2 yr. BSN) is the first series of college classes I've ever not had a scholarship for.

    If I liked numbers I'd have stuck with accounting, but that was so boring. I hated that. I have 2/3 of an accounting degree on top of my B.S. in wasted time and my associate's degree in paramedic whatever. Strangely, enough I ended up in a position planning and managing an organizational budget and I needed absolutely no accounting background to understand that or address revenues, etc.
  8. 1
    Quote from Jeanette73
    Not angry, exactly, and I'm still hopeful that I'll find a job eventually. However, the thought has come up on other threads that maybe schools should consider scaling back nursing enrollment to ease the glut of nurses, so new grads who do make it through the program would have an easier time finding work. Now, you wouldn't suggest that schools should stop pumping out psych grads or art grads or English grads, because we recognize that the arts degree is not intended to prepare one directly for employment and the degree holders aren't competing with each other for the same jobs. I am wondering where the logic breaks down in terms of nursing degrees.
    I think you'd find that this discussion of limiting enrollment or increasing requirements such as GPA occurs regularly in most specialty programs, and even in the general programs. My husband is a teacher, and this was a constant discussion in his program in the early 90s and still is today. One of my closest friends is the head of the architecture department at our local state university, and again, this is an ongoing discussion in his department. If you think it's tough to find a job as a nurse, try architecture or engineering. Those with undergraduate degrees have great difficulty finding positions right now.

    And it is a discussion at the Masters and Doctoral level in the liberal arts departments, as well. In my German department, there are so few PhDs getting jobs in their area, they are tightening up the requirements; they aren't accepting as many candidates for PhDs as they once did. One reason I chose nursing instead of continuing on to a doctoral path...no reason to spend 80K+ to get my PhD, so that I could work an entry level job in the admissions department, or somehow land an associate professor position with a 30K annual salary. From what I understand, many other departments are tightening up their requirements for master and PhD candidates, as well.

    There are liberal arts programs that provide specialty training in a liberal arts environment, and there are those that simply provide an education in a topic. Nursing vs psychology. Architecture vs sociology. Civil engineering vs Germanic language and literature. Secondary education vs English literature. Journalism vs Art History. I don't see a problem with specialty programs falling under the liberal arts and sciences umbrella; in fact, I think it's a good idea. I still want everyone to have to take some "useless" classes like English lit, American history, psychology, biology and precalculus. It's the basis of a well-rounded education. I also don't think it's contrary to the liberal arts philosophy to have programs that prepare students for specific jobs. I think you'll find, though, that in the organization of most colleges, the schools of nursing, business, architecture, engineering, journalism, teaching, etc are separate entities within the university.
    JeanettePNP likes this.
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    I think a BSN is a very valuable degree. Especially considering that if you did choose bio or psych instead of nursing, you would pretty much have to go on to grad school to do anything with those degrees in their respective fields.

    When it comes down to it, I think it depends on the individual to create their career path. It should never be assumed that a job will be handed to you just because you graduated. You have to WORK to find work, no matter what your degree is in. It all depends on you: your motivation, your interests, your ambitions, your work ethic, your relationships with those who can help advance your career (networking), etc. The diploma does not do this for you, whether it says BSN or BA.
    OB-nurse2013 likes this.
  10. 0
    Quote from cmw6v8

    When it comes down to it, I think it depends on the individual to create their career path. It should never be assumed that a job will be handed to you just because you graduated. You have to WORK to find work, no matter what your degree is in. It all depends on you: your motivation, your interests, your ambitions, your work ethic, your relationships with those who can help advance your career (networking), etc. The diploma does not do this for you, whether it says BSN or BA.
    Um, yes. The lecture that all unemployed new grads need to hear. I think we need a pinned thread just for this, in case new grads haven't gotten the memo yet.
  11. 0
    Quote from Jeanette73
    So, many new grad nurses are finding that their BSNs are as worthless as an BA in English or Art History.

    The defense of "worthless" BA degrees is that a liberal arts education isn't meant to prepare you for a career, it's meant to make you a more educated, well-rounded person, whether it leads to a successful career or not.

    Does the same apply to a BSN? I think most people who pursue nursing degrees do so in the hope (illusion) that it will lead to employment. Is there any inherent benefit in nursing education if you can't find a nursing job?

    My personal opinion is that there is none. If you want a general education in human biology you can go for a bio degree. If you're interested in the human side of healthcare you can go for a psych degree. Learning nursing skills that you will never get to practice is frustrating and a waste of time.
    I think my BSN classes (public health, leadership, more research requirements) really have added to my skillset. Public health gave me a much broader perspective about the many systems our patients are part of that intersect with the healthcare system. Leadership gave me the opportunity to work within the healthcare system to change part of that system (and the change was a real and positive thing).

    These enhance my ability to be a well-rounded nurse (not just a well rounded person). Nursing is more than just physical skills...


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