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Arkansas State University

Are You Being Asked to Earn Your BSN?

You may be hearing and reading more about the demand for nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Perhaps your employer has inquired about your intentions regarding a BSN, or maybe more of your colleagues are going back to school for their nursing degrees. Dramatic changes in the U.S. healthcare system and patient needs have made it essential for nurses to assume more complex roles. A number of groups, including hospitals and professional healthcare associations, are asking nurses to pursue additional education. An online RN to BSN program can prepare nurses to succeed in these new roles and navigate the changing healthcare system.

The Trend Towards Hiring BSN-prepared Nurses

In a 2021 online survey, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) asked 784 deans of nursing schools offering BSN and graduate programs for their insights on the hiring experiences of new graduates. The survey asked if employers in their respective regions preferred or required newly hired nurses to have BSNs. According to the 645 schools responding, 77.4 percent of hospitals and healthcare facilities indicated a strong preference for BSN-prepared nurses, and 40.6 percent said they require it.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), for example, requires that Magnet-designated facilities employ nurse managers and leaders who are at least BSN-prepared. They also point out that a growing body of research shows that Magnet facilities have a positive effect on patient outcomes and increased retention and lower burnout for nurses.

These findings are consistent with the seminal study, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, a report compiled by the Institute of Medicine (renamed the National Academy of Medicine [NAM] in 2015), which recommended a drastic increase in the number of nurses with baccalaureate degrees.

Why Is There a Need for BSN-prepared Nurses?

Many factors — an aging American population and an increase in chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental illness — have contributed to the growing complexity of our current healthcare system. Another contributing factor is the passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services says has added more than 4.6 million insured Americans to the healthcare system in one recent year alone.

Providing safe, affordable, quality care to diverse groups of people via this new healthcare model will hinge on the ability of nurses to assume expanded roles. Increasingly, nurses must serve as leaders, decision-makers and collaborators, assuming roles like information specialists, policy advisors and scientists. To address the influx of new patients, nurses must also serve as primary and preventive care providers. There are more than four times as many RNs (4.8 million) in the United States as physicians (1.1 million), meaning nurses must fill these roles.

There is also evidence that additional nursing education — such as a BSN — correlates with a decrease in patient mortality, according to the AACN. The report cites several studies, including one published in the Journal of Nursing Administration, which found that hospitals employing a higher percentage of nurses with BSNs or advanced degrees had lower instances of mortality from chronic disorders such as congestive heart failure.

How an Online RN to BSN Program Can Prepare Nurses to Succeed in This New Landscape

These new healthcare roles will require nurses to pursue further education. A BSN degree can help prepare nurses for pivotal roles in this changing landscape. It can also serve as a solid foundation for an advanced nursing degree, which can ultimately lead to even more opportunities.

The online RN to BSN program at Arkansas State University combines advanced nursing classes with a liberal arts education. It helps nurses strengthen their knowledge in clinical areas as well as develop their decision-making, leadership and management skills.

For instance, College Algebra helps students strengthen their general critical thinking skills, which is an important component of advanced nursing roles. The Chronic Illness Nursing course focuses on treating patients with chronic illnesses — essential for addressing the aging population.

The nation’s healthcare transformation has helped propel the demand for BSN-prepared nurses. A number of groups recognize the important role nurses play in redesigning the system. As a result, they have called upon them to pursue additional education. An online RN to BSN program can help nurses succeed in these new roles and provide a solid foundation for graduate studies.

Learn more about the Arkansas State online RN to BSN program.

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