Is the BSN Worth It?

Starting in 2020 new RNs would be required to earn Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Beginning in 2020, new registered nurses will be required to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) within 10 years of their initial licensure. Existing registered nurses will be grandfathered in.

But is earning the BSN worth it?

Yes, according to Marion Ciciarelli, representing Oswego Health.

“Research has shown a higher percentage of baccalaureate nurses on a unit improve patient outcomes such as decreased patient falls, fewer medication errors and a reduction in morbidity and mortality,” she said.

One example is a 2003 study by Linda Aiken, Ph.D., RN, of the University of Pennsylvania, which states that increasing the number of baccalaureate trained nurses improves patient outcomes.

In addition to improved patient outcomes, Ciciarelli also thinks it will help nurses. Many health care organizations want bachelor-trained nurses, especially for positions in management and leadership.

“Career-wise, having a BSN allows a nurse to more readily enter into higher education programs — master’s and doctoral — which would allow individuals to enter into much needed roles such as nurse educators,” Ciciarelli said.

Nearly all positions for nurses involving research, technology or education require the BSN. Without the additional education, these higher-paying positions are usually out of reach.

Physician extenders — physician assistants and nurse practitioners — are in greater demand to help fill in the gaps because of the physician shortage. Baccalaureate-trained nurses can further help extend the care because of their additional training.

RNs often serve on multi-disciplinary teams where many of the other members have received at least bachelor’s level training, such as occupational and physical therapists.

The additional training can “strengthen our nursing skills and critical thinking and provides us with the education to step forward as leaders and do more,” said nurse Andrea Lazarek-LaQuay with Nascentia Health in Syracuse.

Lazarek-LaQuay said that part of the reason for the nursing shortage is a lack of educators. Without advanced nursing degrees, nurses can’t educate more nurses.

Most schools’ RN-to-BSN program takes one year full time or two years part-time. Because many RNs are still working when they want to earn their BSN, many schools work with students to offer online classes that they can work on at any time.

Ciciarelli said that Oswego Health offers educational assistance to all employees with at least six months of continuous, full-time service or one year of continuous part-time service. Oswego Health covers 100 percent for full-time employees and 40 percent for part- time employees up to $3,000 per calendar year.

“The course must be job-related or part of a development plan recommended by a supervisor,” Ciciarelli added.

Many other health care institutions work with RNs through tuition reimbursement programs because they want to employ more BSNs, too.

Le Moyne offers some classes online, most of its RN to BSN classes are on campus.

Any hospital with magnet status actively seeks baccalaureate-trained nurses. The American Nurses Credentialing Center began its magnet recognition program in 1993. The hospitals with magnet status demonstrate more satisfaction among their RNs, low nurse turnover, and improve patient outcomes.

By employing more baccalaureate-trained nurses, hospitals can better achieve their goals. The organizations are also required to hire more BSN employees, especially for nursing leadership roles.

Ginnie Cronin, Ph.D., director of graduate nursing at Le Moyne College, thinks that the competition for nursing jobs will increase as there will be more BSN-trained nurses.

“There’s much more marketability,” Cronin said. “Certain positions right now in the hospital you can’t get unless you have a BSN. like clinical nurse educator, nurse managers. Certain areas would be cut off to those who don’t have a bachelor’s degree. They can also go on for other positions with a master’s degree.”

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