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College is becoming a necessity for nurses


Tuesday, June 26, 2012
In the past, the path for prospective nurses was to attend a nursing school or community college, pass the national licensing exam, and take their place in a very sought after career. This is no longer the case. The number of nursing diploma programs across the country has dwindled, and some employers believe an associate's degree in nursing is not enough education for registered nurses (RNs) who wish to work in hospitals.

A recent  New York Times article highlighted the changing requirements within the nursing industry and how many RNs are returning to college to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

A changing industry

Like many other aspects of the health care industry, the nursing field is not just evolving; it is thriving. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for RNs are projected to increase by 26 percent through 2020.

However, the standard RN degree, with its focus on practical, hands-on skills, is no longer enough at some hospitals. According to the Times, employers and professional groups, citing studies that have shown a connection between more education and better patient results, are pushing for stricter nursing education requirements.

Colleges respond to nursing requirements

As more hospitals express their desire to have college-educated nurses on staff, many schools are responding to this need. Today, it is not uncommon to find RN to BSN programs, which are designed for nurses who wish to earn their bachelor’s degree, at colleges and universities nationwide.

Citing data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the Times reported that the number of students enrolled in RN to BSN programs in 2011 was 89,975. A decade ago, fewer than 30,000 individuals were enrolled.

Due to the growing demand for RNs with a bachelor’s degree, a number of community colleges are also looking for ways to provide nursing students with higher levels of education. Some have received permission to offer bachelor’s degrees, while others are partnering with four-year colleges to allow for dual enrollment at both a two-year and four-year school for new nursing students.

A necessary change

While some working nurses may be opposed to the requirements for additional education, there are other hospital nurses, like Pennsylvania resident and BSN student Jennifer Matton, who see the necessity of having more educated nurses.

"It blows me away how much influence nurses have on serious treatment decisions," Matton stated in an interview with the New York Times. "After going back to school, I think more critically about what we’re doing, and I have a better understanding of why we’re doing it."ADNFCR-16000756-ID-800805828-ADNFCR

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