RN to BSN: The Wave of the Future

April 25th, 2011


By , BSN, RN

It used to be, a nurse, was a nurse. Whether a graduate of an Associate, a Diploma or a Bachelor of Science program, everyone had a common goal: passing the NCLEX and becoming a registered nurse.

There is a growing, popular movement requiring nurses to attain a BSN. Nursing education criteria are being advanced and enforced faster than ever. What has prompted this drive for higher education is a source of much discussion.

One reason for the push to BSN is credited to the desire of hospitals nationwide to earn Magnet status.

Magnet is awarded by the American Nurse Credentialing Center(ANCC) to hospitals which have satisfied a set of criteria measuring the strength and quality of the facilities' nursing standards and practices. A Magnet facility is one where nursing job satisfaction is high, nursing staff turnover is low and one where, most importantly, nursing delivers excellent patient outcomes. More nurses with advanced degrees, like the BSN, help attain Magnet status.

Another reason for requiring the BSN is evidence showing hospitals with more BSN and higher level nurses have lower death rates. In September 2003, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study identifying a clear link between higher levels of nursing education and better patient outcomes. The study found that surgical patients have "a substantial survival advantage" if treated in hospitals with higher proportions of nurses educated at the baccalaureate or higher degree level. In hospitals, a 10% increase in the proportion of nurses holding BSN degrees decreased the risk of patient death and failure to rescue by 5%.

In May 2010, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released its Charting Nursing's Future newsletter focused on "Expanding America's Capacity to Educate Nurses: Diverse, State-level Partnerships are Creating Promising Models and Results." Among the policy recommendations was requiring all new nurses to complete a BSN program within 10 years of licensure and enhancing the pipeline into baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs. The requisite stems from evidence that critical thinking skills gained from BSN or MSN degree programs are better suited to the current healthcare needs of an increasingly complex system.

The nature of medicine and health care is fluidity. Keeping up with the changes keeps you ahead of the pack and nursing is a competitive field. In many facilities management jobs are only for those with a BSN or higher.

The good jobs with the best pay go to the people with the best letters after their name.

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