​Choosing Your Path: Holistic vs. Traditional Prе-Licеnsurе BS in Nursing

By Caroline Ortiz - January 18, 2024
Holistic vs. Traditional Prе-Licеnsurе BS in Nursing

As a student in the health care world, you have a lot of opportunities — and they all begin with choosing your path through college. In fact, some of those choices can begin as early as high school, depending on what you want and where you’re going.

One of the most important decisions you’ll make is whether to pursue a pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing, also called a BSN program. If so, your next job is to choose between holistic and traditional degrees — though that’s often easier said than done.

Here’s what to know about the different paths through a BSN and which may be right for you.

What Is a Pre-Licensure BSN Program?

There are many paths to becoming a registered nurse (RN). A pre-licensure degree is perhaps one of the most common options because it can start right out of high school and lead you to all kinds of professional opportunities.

First, it’s important to know that this is a four-year degree, which means you’ll start with prerequisite courses like anatomy and physiology before moving into more advanced classes focused on nursing care. As you learn, you’ll be preparing for the National Council Licеnsurе Examination (NCLEX-RN), which is the final step to becoming a licensed RN. If all goes well, you’ll have your BSN and your nursing license — a combination that will help you do great things in the medical community. You can also pursue higher education like a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to take your career even further.

Other Paths to Nursing Practice

While popular, a pre-licensure nursing program isn’t the only path to becoming an RN. Here are a few ideas to compare:

  • Pre-nursing to BSN: Some students prefer to start with pre-nursing programs, which offer a taste of the industry and responsibilities before making any longer-term commitment. Along the way, you’ll complete prerequisite courses that lead right into a BSN should you decide to continue your nursing education.
  • ADN: An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a shorter path to a career in nursing, but it comes with limitations, too. You may not have as many career opportunities without a BSN — but you can still complete the NCLEX-RN and get your license.
  • RN to BSN: If you start with an ADN and get licensed, you can go back to school later — a path known as RN to BSN because you’re already a registered nurse.

Remember, there’s no single path to a future in health care. As long as you get where you want to be, you’re on the right track!

Traditional vs. Holistic Pre-Licensure BSN Programs


Traditional vs. Holistic Pre-Licensure BSN Programs

Once you know you’d like to pursue a BSN right out of high school, it’s time to decide what kind of program you’re most suited for. Let’s compare the two main types:

Traditional Pre-Licensure BS in Nursing Programs

Traditional BSN programs are probably what comes to mind when you think about higher education. They span three to four years and immerse you in an extensive, evidence-based curriculum (not to mention plenty of clinical training and hands-on experience). You may be required to complete 120 to 130 credits before you graduate and take the NCLEX-RN exam.

Different programs have different admission criteria, but it’s safe to say that a strong performance in high school can help you end up at your first-choice college. That said, any BSN program with proper accreditation will prepare you for the rigors of diverse health care settings, complicated patient scenarios and a fast-changing industry. That’s because respected organizations like the Accrеditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) ensure that both classroom learning and clinical rotations provide relevant, meaningful knowledge in modern nursing.

Holistic Pre-Licensure BS in Nursing Programs

If you’re looking for something a little different, an accredited holistic prе-licеnsurе BSN program might be the perfect fit for you. With these degrees, you’ll get a comprehensive view of health care, focusing on the interconnectedness of mind, body and spirit. While you’ll still learn everything you need to know about caring for communities and navigating professional environments, you’ll also engage with wellness topics on a different level.

In many ways, traditional and holistic BSN programs are similar. They both generally span three to four years, prepare you for licensure exams and help you graduate with a BSN that will open up new opportunities in the nursing field. However, that’s where the similarities often stop.

Firstly, it’s important to note that the curriculum and courses for a holistic BSN can be very different. That’s because they put traditional nursing subjects alongside holistic care principles, providing context and connections you might not get in another degree path. That means you’ll learn about unique methods of patient management and relationships, all based on the idea that health care should always encompass the whole person. This helps you prepare for a career where you’ll connect with communities on a human level, not just as patient populations.

The admission criteria may be a little different, too. You’ll need to demonstrate your interest and commitment to holistic health care — but remember, this is a huge discipline with many opportunities, so you’ll likely find plenty of relevant experiences (both personal and professional) to catch the admission team’s eye.

Finally, you’ll spend your education preparing for the HNB-BC® (Holistic Nurse Baccalaureate Board Certified) exam. This emphasizes your ability to unite holistic and traditional nursing knowledge.

Holistic Pre-Licensure BS in Nursing Programs

Exploring Pacific College’s Accredited Holistic Prе-Licеnsurе BSN Program

Ready to explore a future in nursing? You’re in the right place. Here’s a look at the holistic BSN programs from Pacific College of Health and Science (PCHS):

What To Expect

  • Hybrid Lеarning: Our program sеamlеssly blеnds onlinе coursеwork with on-campus lab sеssions in thе heart of New York City.
  • Swift Complеtion: You can еarn your BSN dеgrее in less than 3 years, allowing you to fast-track your journey to becoming a rеgistеrеd nursе.
  • Cutting-Edgе Facilitiеs: Our brand-nеw lab boasts advanced rеsourcеs, including HiFi manikins, high-tеch smartboards and modеrn classrooms.
  • Clinical Support: Our dеdicatеd advisors and on-campus clinics arе hеrе to support your clinical placеmеnts. Wе undеrstand thе valuе of hands-on еxpеriеncе in your nursing еducation.

General Education Admissions Requirements

To join our BSN program, your nursing application should mееt thеsе gеnеral еducation admissions rеquirеmеnts:

  • Maintain a cumulativе gradе point avеragе of 2.75 or higher from high school.
  • Complete high school or college-level Biology with Lab with a grade of B- or higher.
  • Complete high school or college-level Chemistry with a grade of B- or higher.
  • Attach a written essay or personal statement describing your motivation for entering the field of nursing.
  • Take the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) with scores at or greater than the current national average on each of the four sections (reading, math, science, English and language usage).


Our holistic pre-licensure BSN program prepares graduates for traditional nursing roles and helps them become champions of holistic health practices in their communities. This is possible through our accreditation, including rеgional accrеditation from thе Wеstеrn Association of Schools and Collеgеs (WSCUC), which validates our commitment to academic excellence.

Traditional Pre-Licensure BS in Nursing Programs

Start Your Nursing Journey

Whatever path you choose, your future in the health care industry is bright. Let education be the first step in becoming what you were meant to be.

At PCHS, we’re here to help you accomplish just that. Learn more about our school and why holistic nursing is more than a career but a path to healthier, happier and safer communities.

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Caroline Ortiz

Caroline E. Ortiz is a board-certified nurse coach and an associate professor in the Pacific College of Health and Science’s Holistic Nursing Programs. She has developed holistic health programs for healthcare providers and general audiences, participated in clinical research of integrative medicine, and created a Spanish-language guided meditation library for Health Journeys. She is active with the National Association of Hispanic Nurses-NY Chapter and the Integrative Health Project’s work in Guatemala. Caroline is also a curandera (f., traditional healer) apprentice and curanderismo (traditional medicine of Mesoamerican roots) researcher.

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