More and more nursing jobs require Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees as employers become convinced of the need for a highly educated nursing workforce. Nurses with BSN degrees have the skills and knowledge for many of the new opportunities available in healthcare. More education, according to some recently published research, typically improves patient outcomes and prepares nurses for the challenges in their careers.
More Nurses Seeking BSN Degrees
Nurses are noticing that the healthcare employment marketplace is requiring BSNs more than ever before. In response, many RNs are seeking more education and enrolling in RN to BSN programs. In 2008, only 36 percent of nurses had at least a BSN, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). By 2013, that figure rose to 55 percent. This increase in nurses earning BSN degrees occurred, in part, as a result of renewed employer commitments to hiring more BSN-educated nurses.
BSN programs teach courses in social science, critical thinking, leadership, communication and other areas. Nurses strengthen their clinical skills and acquire more training with help from mentors and instructors. Throughout the program, nurses grow professionally and challenge themselves as they learn.
BSN and Patient Outcomes
Hiring more nurses with BSN degrees improves patient outcomes and reduces mortality rates, according to recent research. A 2014 study published in Medical Care found that increasing the percentage of nurses with BSNs on staff by 10 percent reduced the risk of patient mortality by 10.9 percent. Another study, published in 2013 in the Journal of Nursing Administration, found that hospitals with more BSN-educated nurses had lower rates of patient mortality from congestive heart failure, shorter hospital stays and other improved patient health metrics. Other studies suggest fewer deaths, reduced risk of complications, improved health status and other benefits from having more nurses with BSN degrees on staff. With many patients needing acute care, having more nursing education can become even more vital for clinical settings. BSN programs provide nurses with the practical and theoretical skills needed to provide better care to patients.
Since the data appears to support increased education for nurses, more and more employers are requiring candidates to have BSN degrees before applying for nursing positions or seeking advancement. As early as 1965, the American Nurses Association (ANA) recommended a bachelor’s degree as the entry-level credential for nurses. Some lawmakers are even considering BSN requirements. The State of New York, for instance, has considered a “BSN in 10″ law that would require new nurses to obtain a BSN within the first 10 years of practice. New Jersey is considering a similar bill.
Nursing Jobs Requiring a BSN
Some nursing positions, such as leadership and educational roles, typically require additional education. These nurses have added responsibilities in addition to, or instead of, providing direct patient care. Nurses in leadership may manage nursing units or entire departments; others can serve in administrative positions. Nurses who want to teach at nursing colleges or become mentors to other nurses might also need education beyond the BSN. BSN degrees are becoming the basic qualification and starting point for nurses who plan to advance their careers as leaders, administrators and instructors.
In 2010, the Institute of Medicine — now known as the National Academy of Medicine — called for increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce to 80 percent. The Veterans Administration (VA), the biggest employer of RNs in the United States, now requires BSN degrees for promotion from entry-level positions. Magnet hospitals must now require all nurse managers and leaders to hold a BSN degree or higher. Hospitals applying for Magnet status are required to show progress toward having 80 percent of nurses with BSNs.
BSNs Help Nurses Advance Their Careers
Earning a BSN degree can help you advance your career. Completing a bachelor’s program demonstrates commitment, skill and knowledge. The BSN degree helps nurses provide better patient care, so finishing this coursework can help nurses move into higher-paying positions with more professional responsibility. This degree can create more possibilities for nurses and help them offer better patient care.
Since research and clinical evidence support the idea that BSN nurses provide better care, more employers now require this degree for entry-level hires, and more nurses now earn additional education to advance their careers. A BSN is increasingly valuable in most healthcare settings. At the bachelor’s level, nursing schools teach advanced skills in leadership, research, communication, patient care and other areas. A BSN can make a difference for your career and help you get ahead as a nurse.
Learn more about Northeastern State’s online RN to BSN program.