The research and medical community consensus is clear: more nurses need a BSN degree.
Legislators have taken that recommendation to heart, and quite a few states over the past few years have tinkered with the idea of a ‘BSN in 10’ law, which would require all new nurses to undergo an RN-BSN degree completion program within ten years.
No states have passed it—yet—but quite a few hospitals are already on board. We’ve reported in the past that a BSN degree makes you eligible for more nursing job openings, but there are other benefits too. Here’s why so many hospitals already require you to have a BSN.
Research is unanimous that a BSN degree makes you a better nurse.
When the Institute of Medicine released its major Future of Nursing study, it asserted that nurses who earned their BSN degree were better prepared and more quick to rescue patients. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing aggregated their own data and found that nurses with their baccalaureate had:
Any RN-BSN degree completion programs should tell you from the start that the education won’t improve your bedside skills. Once you’re an RN, you know everything you need to get the job done. The best BSN programs, though, will change how you think as a nurse, your reaction time and how you analyze a situation. This makes better nurses, and from a hospital administration perspective: It makes better nursing staff.
Related Resource: Why Nurses Should Consider Non-Direct Patient Care Positions
Just about any managerial nursing position or management role requires a BSN degree. This opportunity for career advancement tends to be one of the main reasons nurses pursue higher education. Some hospitals, though, want to skip that step; they want to be able to assign managerial duties to any of their nurses as they see fit. Requiring all nursing staff to have at least a BSN means the hospital has a more qualified pool of qualified managers.
Good RN Associate degree programs expose their students to research, instilling the idea that nursing is an evolving profession, and that new knowledge and skills are always available. Older programs lack that element, which means a lot of current RNs have little research experience.
An RN-BSN degree completion program provides that experience, and creates an environment where even the best-educated RNs really learn how to study and integrate advanced nursing knowledge into their work. The same IOM report found that nurses with a BSN have better research and evaluation skills, which any hospital wants to see. Rather than employ just a percentage of research-minded nurses, they set the BSN degree requirement so their whole staff is more knowledgeable and proficient at their job.
While no state legislatures have passed a BSN in 10 law, a lot of hospitals think that day is coming, and sooner rather than later. The official recommendation is that 80% of nurses should have their baccalaureate by 2020. It’s a lofty goal, but if that does happen, hospitals need to be prepared. Many hospital administrators would rather be at the cutting edge of nursing than lagging behind, waiting for legislation that forces them to implement a standard. Everyone already knows a nursing staff with BSN degrees is best for patient care, with or without laws. When the legislation finally passes, the hospitals who have already required the degree can avoid the ensuing bureaucratic headache, already benefiting from an excellent (and educated) nursing staff.
If you’re interested in expanding your career choices as a nurse, learn more about earning your BSN degree.