BSN-Go-Round: Will profession finally grab brass ring on upgrading education standards?
Kay Bensing, MA, RN, is senior staff nurse consultant at ADVANCE.
Recently, I talked to an editor on the ADVANCE staff who was excited about a program that aims to meet the elusive goal the American Nurses Association proposed in its famed 1965 position paper: requiring a BSN as the entry level of RN preparation.
A diploma graduate of 1965, I was still 2 weeks away from receiving my RN license when the paper was published. Then living with several of my nursing school classmates, the thought of us returning to school for a BSN was out of the question. We were dedicated to practice nursing and learn every day - but we also had other priorities. After all, nursing school had not been a picnic. We needed some freedom from the books for a while.
It took less than a year for my colleagues and I to recognize our solid nursing education background was serving us well, but we wanted to learn more and extend our nursing opportunities. It wasn't long before we were enrolled in bachelor's programs.
Much of my career has been spent in academic and continuing education. I always advocated to nursing students and practicing nurses the value of advanced nursing education, along with the reality of personal and family sacrifices.
While at ADVANCE as senior staff nurse consultant, I've written many times about the need for nurses to further their education. Reader responses varied; I was either preaching to the choir or taking on nurses who told me they didn't need more education to prove they provided compassionate care.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when the editor was excited the time was right for the tide to turn - more nurses getting their BSNs. I replied, with a dismissive and defeatist comment, "I don't think I'll see the day in my lifetime."
On Dec. 6, 2011, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) released the results of its preliminary, annual survey related to RN educational levels. The results were impressive: From the data reported from 647 of 840 schools surveyed, all RN programs grew from 2010 to 2011, including 3.9 percent increase in generic BSN programs. In BSN completion programs, the increase was 13.4 percent.
"With the Institute of Medicine and other leading authorities calling for significant increases in the number of nurses with baccalaureate and graduate degrees, moving to prepare a more highly educated nursing workforce has become a national priority," said AACN President Kathleen Potempa, PhD, RN, FAAN.
Going on 50 years after the original ANA initiative, the AACN report does seem like a belated gift to nursing. Let's keep the ball rolling.