Is a BSN Required?

Nurses need the proper preparation to deliver quality patient care. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), known as the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) since 2015, called for 80 percent of the nursing workforce to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) by 2020. Many healthcare institutions are following the recommendation. The result is a push for a baccalaureate education as the standard for entry-level preparedness.

Why Is There a Preference for BSN-Prepared Nurses?

Numerous studies have linked positive patient outcomes and improved care with BSN-prepared nurses. Here are some of the studies:

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recognizes the BSN as the required minimum level of education for nurses. However, the AACN does not support barring ADN nurses from practicing.

What Is Expected of a Nurse?

Not only do nurses need exceptional clinical skills, they also should excel in communication, leadership and critical thinking. Additionally, a BSN degree or higher is essential if a nurse wants to pursue a career in administration, education or research.

The comprehensive curriculum in a BSN degree program prepares a nurse to care for patients in all healthcare settings. For example, students in a BSN program generally learn about the following:

  • Community health nursing.
  • Evidence-based practice in nursing.
  • Health and physical assessment.
  • Healthcare policy and finance.
  • Nursing ethics and theory.
  • Nurse management and leadership.

What Is the State of Nursing?

Traditionally, nursing was a task-oriented job. Nurses took vital signs, documented medical histories and observed any changes in a patient’s health during treatment. If complications arose or a nurse did not know how to proceed, a physician was available to take over.

Today, the nursing practice is more complicated due to a number of factors:

  • Aging patient population with multiple chronic health conditions.
  • Large majority of nursing workforce beginning to retire.
  • Evolving role of nurses.
  • Hospitals seeking Magnet status.

Why Do Elderly Patients Need a BSN-Prepared Nurse?

According to the 2014 report, An Aging Nation: The Older Population in the United States, the segment of the population aged 65 and over will increase from 43.1 million to approximately 83.7 million between the years 2012 and 2050. This means nurses must be prepared to work rigorous caseloads and provide care to patients with challenging and complex illnesses that may include:

  • Alzheimer’s.
  • Cancer.
  • Diabetes.
  • Heart or Kidney disease.
  • Obesity.

Why Are the Majority of Nurses Retiring?

A large portion of the nursing workforce is reaching retirement age. The American Nurses Association anticipates more than 500,000 nurses will retire by 2022. These impending vacancies are prompting many employers to hire mostly BSN-prepared nurses.

Why Are the Responsibilities of a Nurse Increasing?

Similar to the nursing shortage that is happening, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts a shortage of physicians. To alleviate the physician shortage problem, nurses are performing duties such as diagnosing treatable illnesses and writing prescriptions. Because nurses are seeing their roles expand, they need a higher level of education in order to obtain sufficient preparation.

Why Do Magnet Hospitals Employ BSN-Prepared Nurses?

Hospitals prefer employing BSN-prepared nurses, especially if they are seeking Magnet status, which is awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). A key component to achieving the designation is that hospitals must employ a certain percentage of BSN-prepared nurses.

Nurses are at an educational crossroads. Most employers are requiring that their nurses become BSN-prepared in five to 10 years. Prospective nursing students have the advantage of knowing that pursuing a BSN will aid them in finding employment.

There is movement toward making a BSN a requirement and not just an employer preference. If you are a working nurse and you have decided to continue your education, an online RN to BSN program is an affordable and convenient option.

Learn more about the Fitchburg State online RN to BS in Nursing program.


Nurse Journal: 10 Reasons Why RN’s Should Pursue their BSN Degree

The Journal of Nursing Administration: Effects of Hospital Care Environment on Patient Mortality and Nurse Outcomes

Journal of the American Medical Association: Educational Levels of Hospital Nurses and Surgical Patient Mortality

AACN: Associate Degree in Nursing Programs and AACN’s Support for Articulation

The Journal of Nursing Administration: Baccalaureate Education in Nursing and Patient Outcomes

National Academy of Sciences: Report Recommendations Should I Work For A Magnet Hospital?

Health Affairs: An Increase in the Number of Nurses With Baccalaureate Degrees Is Linked to Lower Rates of Postsurgery Mortality

Daily Nurse: Is the ADN Being Phased Out?

Association of American Medical Colleges: New Research Reaffirms Physician Shortage

U.S. Census Bureau: An Aging Nation: The Older Population in the United States The Future of the Associate Degree in Nursing Program

Nurse Journal: Top 9 Advantages of a BSN Degree

ANA: Workforce

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