"Research has shown a higher percentage of baccalaureate nurses on a unit reduces morbidity and mortality," Tina Gerardi, Deputy for the Academic Progression in Nursing Programs, told Nurse.org. This fact, along with the trend of many older nurses planning to retire in the near future, largely explains the Institute of Medicine's 2010 recommendation that the proportion of working nurses with BSNs should rise to 80 percent by 2020.
Although the calculus may be different depending on the needs of different areas, the expectation that nurses hold a BSN, or acquire the degree within a certain time frame after being hired, is a growing trend across the network of American hospitals. With the rise of online RN to BSN programs, this standard has never been more achievable.
Competition Among Hospitals
Writing for The New York Times, Richard Pérez-Peña notes that part of this recent demand for BSN nurses is based on "the coveted 'magnet' designation, awarded by the American Nurses Association to about 400 hospitals and sometimes featured in their advertising. Among the association's criteria for magnet status is the nursing staff's level of education."
This designation is not awarded to hospitals solely on the basis of a higher percentage of nurses having BSNs. The ANA also takes the satisfaction of RNs on staff into consideration, which inevitably makes Magnet hospitals better places to work.
The result is that this competition between hospitals to achieve Magnet status is as good for the nursing staff as it is for patients.
A Push for BSNs
Pérez-Peña writes, "Surveys show that most hospitals prefer to hire nurses with bachelor's degrees, though they often cannot find enough. Lawmakers in several states ... have introduced bills that would require at least some hospital staff nurses to have bachelor's degrees within 10 years, though none have become law."
Getting ahead of such laws, plenty of healthcare groups and institutions are already pushing for more BSNs in an effort to increase their standards of patient care. Gerardi says, "Some employers have gone as far as to open up areas on their campus where students do their coursework on breaks or bring in faculty to do on-campus courses." This shows that many hospitals are starting to embrace working nurses who are also students.
Although this push might put some nurses in a difficult position, the benefits of having a BSN are undeniable. Jennifer Matton, an RN at Abington Memorial Hospital, told The New York Times, "It blows me away how much influence nurses have on serious treatment decisions. After going back to school, I think more critically about what we're doing, and I have a better understanding of why we're doing it."
Many Paths Forward
Whether you are interested in pursuing a BSN to pave the way for future specialization and a wider range of career opportunities or to fulfill a requirement of the healthcare provider you work for, there are plenty of reasons to earn a BSN. The reasons behind a particular hospital requiring its RN staff to receive a BSN often align with the RNs' best interests, not to mention those of the patients.
An online RN to BSN program makes this goal more achievable than ever, and it may just be the way forward for you.
Learn more about the Northern Kentucky University online RN to BSN program.
Sources:American Nurses Association: FAQ
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