3 Obstacles to Higher Education Levels in Nursing

Rebecca Hendren, August 23, 2011

Evidence shows that patient outcomes improve when nurses have baccalaureate degrees. The Future of Nursing, the influential IOM and Robert Wood Johnson study, has called for 80% of RNs to have a baccalaureate degree by 2020.

Patients are sicker and healthcare is more complex than ever and we need a highly educated nursing workforce to cope. At the grassroots level, however, there is little impetus to change.

Only 56.4% of nurse leaders believe that entry into practice should be at the baccalaureate level, according to a recent survey by Nursing Management. The national survey questioned more than 2,800 nursing leaders across the U.S. and Canada.

Another survey last week on www.StrategiesForNurseManagers.comasked the same question and only 43% responded that four-year degrees should be required for entry into practice. This survey also asked whether nurses should be required to obtain a BSN within a few years of entry into practice. Forty-one percent said yes and only 15% said associate degrees were sufficient.

Why aren't nurse leaders keen to have staff prepared at a higher educational level that will result in better patient outcomes?

1. Supply and demand.

The nursing shortage is real. In a few years we'll be struggling to find enough nurses to fill vacancies. Nurse leaders worry that if BSN becomes a requirement for entry into practice it will be impossible to find enough nurses.

Rebecca Hendren Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits www.StrategiesForNurseManagers.com and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at rhendren@hcpro.com.

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