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The BSN Is Becoming the Standard in Nursing

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It used to be that just an associate degree was sufficient to prepare a nurse to become an RN and take on the demands of a professional nursing career. But that’s simply no longer the case.

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (now known as the National Academy of Medicine) declared that 80 percent of nurses in the United States should have a BSN degree by 2020.

This was based, in large part, on the four key points that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation had developed two years prior to the IOM’s report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Those included recommendations that “nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression,” and that “nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health care professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States.”

At the time of the report, only half of nurses had BSNs; those numbers have since been rising toward the goal of 80 percent. With many nurses without BSN degrees moving closer to retirement age, the U.S. is poised to move closer to that 80 percent goal in the coming years — especially when more and more healthcare employers are requiring BSN degrees for new positions.

The Job Market for Nurses With BSNs

The good news for nurses pursuing BSN degrees is that they’re finding jobs. A 2016 survey from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing showed that the average job offer rate for nurses graduating with BSN degrees immediately upon graduation was more than 70 percent. For nurses with BSN degrees on the market from just four to six months, that rate increased to 92 percent.

The hiring rates were in line with another fact that the AACN survey confirmed — most healthcare providers are looking for nurses with BSN degrees. The report showed that 54 percent of hospitals and other healthcare institutions are actually requiring BSN degrees for new nurse hires, with a staggering majority of nearly 98 percent expressing a preference for BSN degrees.

Why Hospitals Are Seeking Nurses With BSN Degrees

As the AACN report noted, “A significant body of research shows that nurses with baccalaureate level preparation are linked to better patient outcomes, including lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates.” With healthcare becoming increasingly advanced and more dependent on new technologies, having a more educated class of nurses entering the workforce is essential.

Plus, a large portion of the Baby Boomer generation is in their 70s and even approaching their 80s. As they get older, they will need nurses who are prepared for what’s to come: an increase in demand which will be felt across the entire American healthcare system.

Innovations in technology not only require more educated nurses, but they also provide treatment options not possible before. Those treatment options, allowing people to live longer, increase the numbers of people who will need healthcare professionals helping them manage diseases and chronic illnesses.

Nursing schools are not only seeing these trends; they’re getting ahead of them, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) is no exception. The online RN to BSN is helping prepare new nurses — as well as working nurses who entered their careers before the BSN became the new baseline — for this new era of healthcare.

Learn more about the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s RN to BSN Online.


The National Academies: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Employment of New Nurse Graduates and Employer Preferences for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses Report: 80% of Nursing Workforce Should Have a BSN by 2020


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