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Arkansas State University

Progress Toward the IOM BSN in 10 Goal

Nurses play a critical role in the delivery of healthcare, performing their responsibilities in varied settings such as clinics, hospitals and nursing homes. Healthcare in the United States continues to change as a result of various factors, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), an aging population and increasing instances of chronic health challenges. As a result, nurses must take on added responsibilities and complex tasks. Therefore, it is increasingly important that nurses have adequate training and education to meet the demands of their jobs.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) published The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health in 2010. In this report, the IOM recommended that by 2020, just 10 years later, 80 percent of nurses should have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. At the time, this was an ambitious and lofty goal. As of 2008, for example, approximately half of RNs had earned a BSN. However, only a few years later, the nursing profession is making great strides toward the BSN in 10 goal.

A Slower Start

Initially, after the IOM report appeared, progress was rather slow. It was not looking like an achievable goal, even though a higher percentage of nurses than before did have BSN degrees. A game changer emerged that made the goal seem possible.

RN to BSN Programs

The innovative idea of advancing RNs to BSN status by providing additional coursework and experience makes it much easier to achieve the BSN in 10 goal. This way, professionals who are already nurses can make a smoother, quicker transition to the BSN than people starting from scratch. They can build on the education they already have, saving time and money on nursing education. Online RN to BSN programs have made it even easier for nurses to earn BSN degrees while continuing their careers and keeping up with their other responsibilities.

Nursing education is moving in a positive — even historic — direction. In 2011, for the first time ever, the number of nurses who earned bachelor’s degrees was greater than the number who earned two-year associate degrees. Only about 10 years earlier, the opposite was true. If this trend continues, the likelihood of reaching the BSN in 10 goal increases.

If the nursing profession reaches this benchmark, it will be a noteworthy accomplishment for both nurses and patients. That number of well-trained and prepared nurses will be invaluable, given the acute need for their services and all the essential roles they play in the healthcare system.

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


(2015, December 4). Assessing Progress on the IOM Report The Future of Nursing. The National Academies of Sciences: Health and Medicine Division

Lynch, J. P., MSN, RN. (2015, December 10). National nurse leader talks about the campaign’s progress, future plans.

McMenamin, Peter, PhD. (2015, May). RN-to-BSN programs can help to achieveIOM education goal. Nursing World

(2015, September 9). In Historic Shift, More Nurses Graduate with Bachelor’s Degrees. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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