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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

AACN Survey Finds More Nurses Are Pursuing Higher Education

Published December 5, 2012 1:28 PM by Catlin Nalley
Preliminary data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's (AACN) 32nd annual survey reveals that enrollment in various professional nursing programs increased from 2011 to 2012.

Findings are based on data reported from 664 of the 856 nursing schools in the U.S. with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs, according to the AACN press release.

The survey found a 3.5 percent increase in entry-level BSN programs. This number is based on data supplied by the same 539 schools reporting in both 2011 and 2012, noted the AACN.

There was a 22.2 percent (471 schools reporting) rise in the number of students enrolled in baccalaureate degree completion programs.

This year marks the 10th year of enrollment increases in these programs, which signals a growing interest among nurses and employers for baccalaureate-prepared nurses, stated the AACN.

In addition, the initial data shows higher enrollment in master's and doctoral degree nursing programs this year. Nursing schools with master's programs reported an 8.2 percent increase, according to the survey. DNP programs saw an increase of 19.6 percent (166 schools reporting) while participation in research-focused doctoral programs (PhD, DNS) increased by 1.3 percent (96 schools reporting).

The survey also reported that nursing programs could not accommodate all of the qualified applicants due to barriers such as shortages of clinical placement sites, faculty, and funding.

The AACN data shows that 52,212 qualified applications were turned away from 566 entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs in 2012 - a number the AACN expects will increase when final data is available in March 2013.

So how are new nurses fairing following graduation? Additional data collected by the AACN outside its annual survey found nurses graduating with BSNs were more than twice as likely to have jobs at the time of graduation as those entering the workforce in other fields.

Students graduating with MSNs were most likely to have a job at graduation (73 percent for MSNs vs. 57 percent for BSNs), according to AACN data.

What do you think? Have you noticed a renewed interest in advanced nursing degrees? How far do you plan to take your education?

posted by Catlin Nalley

4 comments

I have to disagree with the comment that all you need is an Associate degree to get a job ... then please point me in the direction of said jobs. I graduated  with good grades and passed my boards and have had an extremely difficult  time finding employment with an ADN degree. People are pursuing BSN almost because they are now forced too, since most job listings require it. I definitely wanted to continue my education but thought I could start a job , settle myself and then further my education to even a MSN. My Associate is proving to almost seem useless after my very hard work and limitless hours I put in. It sickens me how much they focus on Bsn and not the quality of a good nurses they may be passing up with ADN.

Ella P January 24, 2013 7:10 PM
Silver Spring MD

True, LPN and RN are two separate dgeeers.  You can chose to jump right into the RN course, but you (and generally a few others) will be doing so without the benefit of any prior nursing knowledge, and you will find it harder to keep up and make decent grades.  To take the Associates Degree RN class, you will go to school full-time for 2 years, and upon passing the state boards test, you will receive your RN license then.  You can chose to continue for your bachelor's degree if you want but, unless you plan on teaching or going even further (like nurse anesthetist) having a BSN wont mean squat.  If you want to work in a hospital environment, any department you please, being an associates degree RN is all you need.  BUT .if 2 years is too long to wait before you can start earning money, consider the LPN course.  It is 1-year of full time school, after which time you take the state board exam and get your LPN license.  In the school setting, the major difference between RN and LPN is that the RN focuses more on legalities, paperwork, and leadership.  The LPN focuses more on the basics of patient care.  In the HOSPITAL setting, the RN gets a lot more respect and a lot more fields offered to her.  When I was an LPN, I was allowed to work the Emergency Rooms, and eventually ended up specializing in the Intensive Care Units, where I functioned almost indistinguishably alongside the RNs.  Nowadays, LPNs seem to be relegated to just basic patient care on the medical/surgical floors.  So the answer is, you can either jump right into the ADN RN class, or into the Vocational LPN Nursing class.  A lot of people I know prefer to take the LPN class so that they can start earning a paycheck sooner, and (at their leisure) they begin working on the prerequisites for the RN class.  You dont have to start as an LPN to become an RN, but you'll find that it helps to have that much more knowledge and experience behind you when you DO start the RN class.  I know it's confusing but I hope I helped.

Mozar Mozar, EsNRyXwjIseuLHZ - HdOptsJhFt, kGiIdQUZuaeownhc January 15, 2013 8:06 PM
rIwniTWBBhfR PA

I agree with the above comment. I also have my ADN and very proud of it. I have 25+ years of experience in multiple entities of Nursing. I also feel BSN nurses are coming into the field ill prepared.

Karen , Operating Room - RN December 26, 2012 3:02 PM
ATL GA

Lately there has been much emphasis of the need for RNs to advance their degrees from Associates to Baccalaureate  degrees. I am a nurse who graduated from a highly acclaimed and respected ADN program. I can truly say, that, after two comprehensive years of nursing school, I am confident with my knowledge base of clinical nursing. During the two years of nursing school it was REAL nursing as the focus and NOT theory, statistics, history, or research of nursing. When it comes to patient care and patient safety, it is the REAL clinical knowledge that creates a nurse into an exceptional nurse. I am disappointed with the caliber of some BSN-prepared nurses of today's generation. These are nurses who spent less time focusing on "real" nursing, who are coming to the ADN-prepared nurse for practical guidance on basic nursing skills & common medication knowledge. With today's trends in healthcare, how can we possibly afford to increase more BSN nurses  who are lacking some of the most vital and safe nursing practices? Is this what hospitals & major healthcare facilities are looking for?!?!

Proud to be an ADN RN , RN December 13, 2012 2:39 AM
NY

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