North Shore-LIJ Requires New Nurses to Have BSN

John Commins, July 12, 2010

North Shore–LIJ Health System said today that starting Sept. 1 it will require newly hired nurses to either hold a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree or earn one within five years.

Michael Dowling, president/CEO of the Great Neck, NY–based 15–hospital health system, said the new requirement—the first of its kind for any hospital in New York State—is based on research that links higher levels of nursing education to improved quality outcomes, lower mortality, and fewer adverse events.

“As patient care becomes more complex and high–tech, there is growing evidence that developing a more highly educated nursing workforce improves patient safety and leads to higher–quality, more cost–effective patient care,” Dowling said, in a media release.

Nurses who do not have a BSN must enroll in a bachelor’s degree program within two years of their hire date and earn their degree within five years. North Shore–LIJ offers tuition assistance to employees for BSN degrees, and flexible onsite nursing degree programs with several Long Island universities and colleges.

Nurses already on staff who have not earned their BSNs are exempt from the new requirement, but they are encouraged to continue their education and take advantage of the health system’s tuition reimbursement program, says Maureen White, RN, senior vice president/CNO of the North Shore–LIJ.

“Nurses require a broad–based education that prepares them to meet increasingly complex patient health needs in constantly evolving practice environments,” White says. “Nurses must be prepared to work with individuals, families and communities of diverse backgrounds in a range of settings as part of interdisciplinary teams. The bottom line is that our nurses have a deep and direct impact on every single patient who enters our doors, more so than any other medical professional.”

White says about 60% of North Shore–LIJ’s more than 10,000 nurses already have a bachelors, masters or doctoral degree, and 465 nurses are now working on obtaining their bachelor’s degree.

“So it’s clear that many already recognize the importance of advancing their clinical knowledge skills and enhancing patient care in their own environment,” White adds.

In 2009, a bill was introduced in the New York State Legislature to require registered professional nurses to attain a BSN degree within 10 years of their initial licensure. If passed, New York would be the first state in the country to have a BSN as standardized entry into the nursing profession. Attempts by nurses and other advocates to pass similar legislation in the state date back to 1976.


John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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