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Arkansas State University

More Education for Nurses Equals Better Outcomes for Patients

There’s a lot to be said for why nurses should seek more education, and why the BSN is becoming more and more the standard in multiple healthcare settings. But perhaps the most important reason is because, simply put, better-educated nurses translate to better patient outcomes.

The most obvious example of this is lower patient mortality. An oft-cited 2014 study, developed by the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, notes that for every 10 percent increase in the number of nurses with a BSN, there is a seven percent decline in mortality following common surgery. A article on the study characterizes it as a “causal linkage,” saying that the increased education allows those nurses to care more knowledgeably for their patients.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in an article the same year, advocated for more educated nurses to navigate a more complex healthcare system.

“Experts recognize the tremendous contributions made by registered nurses prepared at the associate-degree and diploma levels,” the authors began, “but say more highly educated nurses are needed to navigate an increasingly complex health care system and ensure that patients — who are living longer, and sicker, often with multiple chronic conditions — have access to highly skilled, patient-centered care across the entire care continuum.”

There is a longstanding call for more nurses with BSNs to enter healthcare in the United States. According to the Institute of Medicine’s landmark 2010 report, the number of nurses with BSNs in the United States should expand to 80 percent by 2020.

There are two main reasons for this call. First, it acknowledges there is a growing, aging population, and given that one or more chronic illnesses can complicate any diagnosis, it’s essential to have educated nurses to meet those challenges. Second, it accounts for the momentous changes taking place in healthcare technology; educated nurses can help entire hospitals and healthcare systems navigate the new healthcare landscape.

A-State’s RN to BSN program factors in both of those aims, with a program that allows nurses to:

  • Increase knowledge in clinical areas for professional development.
  • Strengthen nursing leadership and management skills.
  • Enhance decision-making and critical thinking skills.
  • Use evidence-based data to strengthen and improve client care via comprehensive, efficient and cost-conscious care.

By developing in these areas, nurses gain the education that most helps improve patient outcomes.

The decision-making and critical thinking component is particularly important; as the article on the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research study noted:

Professional nurses are called upon to quickly synthesize a large amount of clinical information about acutely ill patients, process this information in the context of scientific evidence, reach evidence-based conclusions, communicate salient information and their conclusions to physicians, and act in the absence of a physician at the bedside, which is most of the time.

While the nursing education and evidence-based practice all contribute to modern healthcare, the focus on decision-making and critical thinking is especially geared toward today’s demands, not just in a healthcare setting, but in processing the flood of information we take in on a daily basis.

A-State helps nursing students develop into RNs with BSNs, positioned to improve patient outcomes wherever they are, in as few as 12 months.

Learn more about the A-State online RN to BSN program.

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