Several studies in recent years have bolstered the case for more nurses getting a bachelor degree. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has pointed to several studies showing a correlation between the education level of nurses and patient outcomes, particularly patient mortality rates, in acute care settings.
There have been conflicting studies showing that the clinical experience of nurses may impact patient outcomes more than education. But an important study by the National Institutes of Health (2014) has concluded that there is a 7% drop in patient mortality for every 10% increase in the number of nurses who have BSN degrees.
That type of data has increased calls for an all-BSN nursing workforce in hospitals. A key benefit of this, many say, is that if all nurses had BSNs, they would be more likely to take their skills to an even higher level with master’s degrees in specialized areas of nursing.
Given that it’s impossible to wave a magic wand and immediately turn all American nurses into BSN holders, a few targets have been suggested by major organizations.
New York State Nurses Association and the House of Delegates of the American Nurses Association have suggested a “BSN in 10” initiative that would require all nurses to have a BSN within 10 years of entering the profession if they wish to keep on practicing.
The Institute of Medicine in tandem with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have called for an 80 by ’20 program that would create the more modest goal of having 80% of all U.S. nurses holding a BSN by the year 2020.
A Big Push
The number of patients a nurse has to care for has also been cited as an important factor in patient mortality rates. It seems clear that there will be a big push from many key nursing groups in the coming years to both increase the education requirements for nursing, and to try and boost the number of nurses in settings where the ratio of nurses to patients is an issue. The overall result: it’s likely that more and more nursing jobs will require candidates to have a BSN.