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I will complete my BSN in two years. I would like to work on my med/surg certification too. Should I take a semester off to get certified or wait till I finish my BSN?

Thursday February 21, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I have three years of med/surg experience and it will take me another two years to finish my BSN. All employers seem to require a BSN these days, so I don't want to slow my progress — but I would like to take a semester off and work on my med/surg certification. If my goal is to get into a top hospital, is it better to finish the BSN or is having certification while continuing my studies enough to help me reach that goal?

Torn Between BSN and Certification

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Torn Between BSN and Certification,

There is no clear-cut answer to your question. The answer will vary from one employer to the next. I recommend you do your own informal survey of some recruiters and managers and see what they say. You can find these people at career fairs, nursing conventions, conferences, and professional association meetings and by asking around.

Some employers may be satisfied if you are actively pursuing your BSN with the prospect of finishing within two years. Others will place more value on already having the BSN. Also, the answer to your dilemma depends on how soon you plan to seek another job.

I suggest you work on completing your BSN as soon as possible, and then work on your med/surg certification. Both are important, but my educated guess is more employers will value the BSN for hire (it is a prerequisite for many) and be happy for you to work on certification while working there.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.