Researchers find that patients who receive 80% or more of their care from nurses with baccalaureate educations have 18.7% lower odds of readmission than patients treated by nurses without degrees.
The patient safety benefits of having a greater percentage of bachelor-prepared nurses have been well-established, but the business case for raising education levels among nursing staff has remained a bit more nebulous.
Olga Yakusheva, PhD
Hospitals certainly put patient safety first, but they also have to pay attention to their bottom lines. Now, a study published in the journal Medical Care is adding more evidence to the argument that investing in nurses' baccalaureate educations can make good business sense, too.
The study's lead author, Olga Yakusheva, PhD, associate professor of nursing at the University of Michigan School of Nursing and one of the lead researchers on the study, isn't a nurse. She's an economist.
"As an economist, I always think about financial incentives," she says.
"Ultimately, better patient outcomes are important," but "hospital administrators are the ones that are stuck with the bill," she points out.
That's why making the business case for having at least 80% of the nursing workforce hold bachelor's degrees is going to be so critical if the nation wants to reach the Institute of Medicine's goal for doing so by the year 2020.
Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.