Education makes a difference in healthcare. More nursing leaders, educators, and policy makers are recognizing this fact. Research has shown when there is an increase in the percentage of nurses with bachelor’s degrees at the bedside there was a decrease in the likelihood of surgical patients dying within 30 days of admission. At Rochester General Hospital in New York it was found that when the ratio of nurses holding a BSN degree was increased the rate of medication errors decreased and length of stay for patients was reduced.
There is currently a strong trend toward the Bachelor of Science in Nursing becoming the entry level for nursing and a push toward higher levels of education such as the Master’s Degree in Nursing.
What will the basic education level be for nursing in the future?
- Many prominent advocates in the nursing arena are pushing for the BSN to be the basic entry into nursing.
- The American Nurses Association (ANA) is promoting a resolution for “BSN in 10”. This initiative requiring future nurses entering the profession with an ADN to obtain their BSN in 10 years of earning their license to continue practicing nursing.
- ANA is strongly supporting the BSN as the entry into practice. However, they are no longer the sole voice in promoting this position. ANA has been joined in this effort by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the National Advisory Council on Nursing Education and Practice, the Pew Health Professions Commission, and the Helene Fuld Health Trust.
- Nursing now has the lowest educational requirement of all the major healthcare disciplines. Many healthcare professions require a baccalaureate degree for entry into the profession. Some are even requiring a master’s degree or higher level of education such as occupation therapists, physical therapist, speech and language pathologists, audiologists, and genetic counselors.
- If the baccalaureate degree will be the entry level into nursing there will be an even greater need for BSN and MSN prepared nurses. There is already a growing demand for nurse educators and this need will become even more pressing as the trend for higher educated nurses moves forward.
- It is becoming increasing clear that more and more nurses will be entering the field with a BSN or higher level of education. These nurses will bring evidenced-based nursing into practice.
- The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) developed the Magnet Recognition Program to acknowledge health care facilities that provide nursing excellence. One of the requirements to qualify for Magnet status is that 75% of nurse managers in the organization must have a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) or a graduate degree in nursing. For those organizations renewing their Magnet status after January 1, 2013, 100% of nurse managers must hold a BSN or higher degree in nursing.
- Job opportunities also expand for nurses with higher education. As noted above, to be able to advance within a Magnet healthcare organization a BSN degree is required or will be required. Also within specialty fields such as public health nursing, case management, geriatrics, and informatics BSN or higher degrees are being required. Being a nurse entrepreneur is often easier if the nurse holds a BSN or MSN degree.
- With the job market getting tighter and the increasing demand for higher educated nurses more nurses are returning to school for their BSN or MSN.
It is my opinion, that we will see more and more nurses seeking to hold a BSN or MSN. Some will even go in to pursue a Ph.D. in Nursing. Set your goals for the level of nursing education that you feel suits you the best. As Ben Franklin says “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest”.
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