Push Toward Professionalism: Baccalaureate As The Minimum Education For Registered Nurses

949 words - 4 pages

Nursing has one of the most ambiguous public reputations in existence. Some perceive nursing as a challenging and prestigious career, while others see nursing as a stereotypically female blue-collar job with little autonomy. Advocating for change within the field is necessary for nursing to truly be considered a profession. The quality of patient care should not be sacrificed because of a lack of consensus on the level of education required to obtain the title of registered nurse. Since the majority of hospitals are transitioning to employing only RNs that hold a bachelor’s of science in nursing, a BSN should be the lowest educational level allowed to take the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX) and become a registered nurse. A greater division in the difficulty of responsibilities between nurses that hold a BSN or above and practical nurses with associate degrees is also essential.

In order to understand the reasoning behind hospitals switching to requiring BSN prepared RNs, it is important to recognize the historical significance. McEwen et al. (2013) explains, “Although the first major recommendation requiring the baccalaureate degree in nursing (BSN) for entry into practice as an RN dates back to the mid-1960s, little progress has been made toward that objective” (p. 549). Nursing has not yet been able to successfully implement the change to requiring a BSN, even though there have been recommendations to do so for decades. Divergent desires within the nursing population as a whole have contributed to the delay. For example, nurses with associate degrees that have become RNs may not support the change because they would be forced to enroll in BSN programs. The lack of distinction within levels of the nursing profession may benefit nurses without a BSN, but patients and society would reap the benefits of a higher minimum education of professional nurses.

Most nurses that excel at their jobs do so because they genuinely care about their patients. Passion is what led them to the field of nursing from the start. If the decision to regard a bachelor’s degree as the new baseline for RNs was made solely on what is the most beneficial to patients’ well being, then there would be no controversy. A number of studies carried out in the early 2000’s and mirrored by the Institute of Medicine and the Tri-Council for Nursing found that RNs with a baccalaureate degree in nursing had better patient results. (McEwen, Pullis, White & Kratwz, 2013, 549). Better education equates to a better foundation of necessary skills and knowledge. Additionally, Hess (1996) argues, “…Both Davis-Martin’s review and Johnson’s (1998) meta-analysis of research on differences in the performance of baccalaureate, associate degree, and diploma nurses have identified that baccalaureate nurses are better prepared for a broader range of nursing competencies and perform better in the professional role” (p. 290). There are certainly many duties that nurses...

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