Several states, including New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, are considering “BSN-in-10” laws that would require newly licensed RNs to obtain their BSN within 10 years of licensure, if they don’t already have it. Hospitals increasingly prefer to hire BSN-educated RNs, and many won’t hire an RN with only an ADN or a diploma unless that RN agrees to complete an RN-to-BSN program within a certain amount of time.
That’s because research has shown that the more BSN-educated nurses a hospital has, the more likely patients are to recover successfully. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act seeks to improve patient outcomes, especially for Medicare patients, as a way to lower costs. Beginning January 1, 2011, Baby Boomers started retiring at a rate of 10,000 a day, and they’ll continue retiring at that rate for another 15 years. That means patient outcomes for the most vulnerable, elderly patients will be of the utmost importance in the years to come. Advancing your nursing education to the BSN level, if you haven’t already, is more crucial than ever before.
The BSN Is the Recommended Entry-Level Nursing Degree
Many people enter nursing as a second career, and they want to get into the work force as soon as possible after starting nursing school — they have bills to pay and families to support. But both the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) have expressed the belief that new nurses entering the profession would be better off doing so with a BSN, not an ADN or diploma. The ANA passed a resolution in 2008, recommending that all newly licensed RNs with diplomas or ADNs follow the BSN-in-10 path. The IOM’s Future of Nursing Report concurred, calling upon 80 percent of RNs to have at least a BSN by 2020. For many RNs, the easiest way to meet these new requirements is to enroll in an online BSN program.
More Education Means Healthier Patients
Nurses are invaluable members of the health care profession. They’re responsible for monitoring patients for early signs of problems and complications, and they’re uniquely positioned to intervene in ways that can save patients’ lives. Nurses need excellent training and critical thinking skills in order to perform these duties – training and skills that a BSN can best provide. The IOM believes that nurses today need to be more skilled than ever, and that a BSN can best impart such professional skills as:
- A knowledge of health policy
- Leadership skills
- A command of technology
- A firm understanding of evidence-based practices and current nursing research
- The ability to collaborate with a health care team
- Knowledge of health care systems improvement
- Specialized knowledge in nursing subfields like public health, geriatrics, or community health
BSN-educated nurses are, the IOM believes, prepared to work in any health care environment, and can provide the best care for a more diverse modern population that will live longer and struggle with more health problems than people at any other point in history.
Renowned nurse researcher Linda Aiken, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, spearheaded the research that revealed the correlation between increased education for nurses and improved patient outcomes. In 2003, Dr. Aiken examined outcomes data for 168 hospitals in Pennsylvania, and found that in hospitals with a higher ratio of BSN-educated nurses, patients were more likely to survive, had shorter hospital stays, and were less likely to succumb to serious complications when they occurred. A study she published in the journal Medical Care in 2011 showed that for every 10 percent increase in a hospital’s proportion of BSN-educated nurses, patients were five percent less likely to die.
The Census Bureau predicts that there will be 61.3 million Baby Boomers by the year 2029, when the youngest members of the generation celebrate their 65th birthdays. Though Baby Boomers may largely report that they don’t feel their age, they will nevertheless experience the high risk of serious medical problems and complications that any other elderly person might face. A high proportion of BSN-educated nurses will be essential to keep the Boomers, and their remaining elders, hale and healthy as they live into their 70s, 80s, and beyond.
The population is growing older as Baby Boomers retire by the thousands each day. That means today’s nurses — and those of the near future — will need more training and a more expansive skill set than their predecessors. BSN programs are the best way for nurses to gain those skills, so they can provide the top-notch care that all of their patients deserve.
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