More Nurses Seek BSN Degrees


by Jennifer Thew, RN

A greater emphasis on quality of care and public policy recommen-dations are contributing to a rise in the number of registered nurses seeking baccalaureate degrees. Hospital leaders can help knock the barriers out of the way.

A half-century ago, the American Nurses Association issued its 1965 position paper advocating for the baccalaureate degree as the minimum standard of education preparation for professional registered nurses. Fifty years later, there's still no consensus that the BSN has become the entry level degree for RNs.

Yet, while no mandate on BSN-preparedness has ever been made, the number of RNs going on to pursue baccalaureate degrees is on the rise.

Carole Stacy, RN, MSN, program director for nursing at Lansing Community College in Lansing, MI, and Mary Lou Wesley, RN, MSN, senior vice president for care services and chief nursing officer at Sparrow Health System in Lansing, MI attribute the shift to factors such as employer preference, greater emphasis on quality outcomes, Magnet designation criteria, and recommendations from the Institute of Medicine.

Two BSN-preparedness Drivers

The nursing profession currently holds a mixed bag of degrees, according to HRSA's 2013 report, "Nursing Workforce Trends in Supply and Education:"

  • 6.9% have an RN diploma
  • 37.9% have an ADN
  • 44.6% have a BSN
  • 10.6% have graduate-level degrees


Data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's fall 2014 survey of baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs, however, shows a 10.4% increase in enrollment in RN-to-BSN programs, which marks the twelfth year of enrollment increases. "The two forces that really brought [BSN-preparedness] to the forefront were the Magnet designation and then the IOM report," says Stacy.

In 2010 the IOM, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, issued a landmark report recommending that 80% of RNs be prepared with BSNs by the year 2020. The American Nurses Credentialing Center piggybacked on those recommendations, and in 2013 began requiring that hospitals seeking the ANCC's Magnet designation provide action plans for achieving a nursing workforce made up of 80% BSN-prepared RNs within their organizations.

"It's always a goal with a Magnet organization to increase your percentage of BSN nurses," Wesley says.


Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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