You may be wondering why so many hospitals and healthcare facilities are requiring registered nurses to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Take a look at the questions and answers below to get a better understanding of the reasons behind this trend, and how earning a BSN can benefit you.
What Prompted This Push for BSN-Prepared Nurses?
According to "The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education," a publication by the National Academy of Medicine, the needs of the healthcare industry experienced a significant shift when the 2010 Affordable Care Act was passed. The industry recognized an increased need to provide safe, quality and patient-centered care that would be both accessible and affordable. As a result, the roles of many healthcare professionals, including nurses, are being reconsidered.
The Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation produced a report that recommends an 80 percent increase in proportion of nurses with baccalaureate degrees by 2020.
How Will BSN-Prepared Nurses Help Improve Accessible, Patient-Centered Care?
In recent years, the healthcare needs of the American population have become more complex, calling for nursing skills that may only be taught in BSN programs. According to the article by the National Academy of Medicine, an aging population coupled with an increase in obesity levels have shifted the healthcare emphasis from acute illnesses to chronic conditions. Caring for chronic conditions may require competencies that nurses must learn in a bachelor's program.
Plus, many RN to BSN programs offer courses that focus on understanding the needs of individuals and groups from other cultures. Because nurses are now caring for a population that is rapidly growing in diversity, the author of "Quality Nursing Care Celebrates Diversity" in the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing recommends that nurses learn more about diverse health beliefs, values and practices so they can practice greater cultural sensitivity and competence.
If I Am Already Working As a Nurse, What Are the Benefits of Earning a BSN?
In 2015, The Wall Street Journal published an article featuring an RN who had earned an associate degree. Upon graduation, she found that many hospitals were only looking for nurses who held bachelor's degrees. According to the article, many healthcare facilities believe that chronic and preventive care require nursing leadership skills that aren't usually covered in an associate degree program.
In addition, the authors of "The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education" point to a shortage of nurses, partly due to high turnover rates among new graduates. They believe the high turnover rates call for a more seamless transition from school to practice. As an RN, you will have the advantage of professional experience on top of the skills you develop by earning a BSN.
What Do Healthcare Facilities Expect Me to Learn in a BSN Program?
RN to BSN programs are designed to teach you the practical and interpersonal leadership skills you need to meet the specific challenges hospitals are facing today. The Institute of Medicine believes healthcare facilities need nurses who are competent in the following areas:
- Health policy
- System improvement
- Research and evidence-based practice
- Teamwork and collaboration with other health professionals
- Technology and information management systems
- Healthcare financing
- Intricacies of care coordination and transitions
- Community and public health
As a Nurse, How Much Do I Actually Affect the Changing Healthcare System?
You may not realize how far-reaching your influence is on the country's healthcare system. According to the National Academy of Medicine article, the nursing profession makes up the largest segment of the healthcare workforce with more than three million members. Because you are working with patients, you have a direct effect on patient care and how it evolves.
How Will a BSN Help Me Contribute to Transforming the Healthcare System?
An RN to BSN program will arm you with the tools to provide the effective and accessible care required by the Affordable Care Act. In addition, you'll gain foundational knowledge of care management and healthcare reform in a BSN program so that you can be full partners with physicians and other professionals in effecting change as the National Institute of Medicine recommends.
What Are Some of the Job Positions That Require a BSN?
Because you will learn leadership and management skills as part of your RN to BSN program, once you have graduated, you may qualify for traditional leadership roles, including assistant director of nursing, assistant nurse manager and nurse supervisor. In addition, Nurse Journal lists these career paths once you earn your BSN:
Flight nurses assist patients during air travel. You may be asked to monitor vital signs, administer medication, treat wounds and help with life support. While flight nurses may need to earn special certifications, the skills you learn in your RN to BSN program will help you prepare for the critical care required.
Labor and delivery nurses care for pregnant patients and assist doctors before, during and after delivery. Because these nurses require specialized skills and must work in high-pressure situations, hospitals prefer nurses who have earned a BSN.
Why Do Certain Employers Require Nurses to Have a BSN and Who Are These Employers?
In the same article, Nurse Journal identifies the following employers as those that seek BSN-prepared nurses:
- Hospitals: In order to manage other nurses or work in specialized departments including intensive care and the emergency room, you will often need a BSN.
- Long-term care clinics: With a BSN, you may qualify to manage a staff of nurses who care for elderly or disabled patients in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and assisted living residences.
- Schools: Because school nurses may need to make emergency decisions without a physician present, the National Association of School Nurses recommends that schools hire nurses who hold bachelor's degrees. As a school nurse, you will also perform first aid as well as conduct vision and hearing examinations.
Learn more about St. Thomas University's online RN to BSN program.
Sources:American Academy of Pediatrics: Role of the School Nurse in Providing School Health Services
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