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Why More Healthcare Institutions Are Requiring Nurses Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree

In recent years, an increasing number of hospitals and other healthcare institutions have begun requiring registered nurses (RNs) to possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. While the decision is not based on national or statewide requirements, many healthcare providers have recognized the short and long-term benefits a BSN degree brings to the field. The shift toward this requirement has led to a rise in 4-year, accelerated, and RN-BSN bridge programs, with many current RNs now able to utilize opportunities such as tuition discounts and education benefits in their journey toward earning a BSN.

Danette Schloeder, Program Director for the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the University of Providence and current sitting member of the Alaska Board of Nursing, spoke to the importance of a BSN degree and the driving forces behind it.

“Many healthcare employers prefer or even require a BSN for hiring,” She noted of current hiring practices, “This preference is particularly pronounced in hospitals seeking Magnet Status, a designation that signifies a commitment to nursing excellence.”

Among the many factors influencing the decision to require a BSN is a pivotal document titled the “Future of Nursing” report. The report was first published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2010 and has received multiple updates in subsequent years. This comprehensive report focuses on a variety of nursing workforce and education topics, among which include the increased necessity for a highly educated nursing workforce that is ready and able to meet the demands of evolving healthcare systems.

Among the focuses of the report includes recommendations for educational advancement published in the 2011 edition. The update recommended an increasing the percentage of nurses with a BSN to 80 percent by 2020, a recommendation that has since led to more employed nurses in the U.S. holding a BSN then an Associate Degree in Nursing or Nursing Diploma alongside certification.

“The report found that higher levels of nursing education are associated with better patient outcomes, including lower mortality rates, fewer medication errors, and lower rates of hospital-acquired infections,” Schloeder stated of the IMOs findings. “A BSN program provides a more comprehensive education that includes critical thinking, leadership, case management, and health promotion skills.”

Schloeder further stated that BSN programs cover a broader range of topics then lesser degree or certification programs and are designed to prepare students to not only deliver quality nursing care but build nurses into lifelong learners who grow with the field as it advances.

In addition to providing enhanced clinical skills, RNs with a BSN can take advantage of new pathways in registered nursing through career advancement opportunities, professional certification, or non-degree educational pathways. BSNs also open doors to advanced degrees in nursing. Schloeder added, “[A BSN] is crucial for filling roles that require higher levels of education, such as nurse practitioners, nurse educators, and nurse researchers, which are vital for the future of healthcare,”

“Nurses with a BSN are more likely to move into leadership, administrative, and management positions. These roles are essential for driving changes in healthcare policies, improving patient care practices, and leading interdisciplinary teams.” Schloeder said.

The road to becoming a registered nurse starts with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The University of Providence offers multiple BSN pathways designed to meet the needs of students across all different educational and career points. Whether you’re a recent high school graduate considering nursing for the first time, a bachelor degree holder considering a career change, or a licensed RN seeking a bachelor’s degree, our nursing programs provide students with quality, mission-focused, patient-centered care.