Most people are shocked to learn that there are minimal educational requirements for registered nurses. While most staff nurses have an associate’s degree from a community college, less than one third of New York nurses have a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing [BSN]. Many have graduated from diploma programs and are practicing with less than an associate’s degree.
With minimal education, nurses feel trapped at the bedside. Feeling trapped results in low job satisfaction and an attitude of resentment which manifests in treating patients and co-workers with disdain. Many nurses suffer through their work day with no hope, no pride in what they do, and cling to a tiny paycheck that barely pays the bills.
Many hospitals in NYC have recognized that hiring BSN-RNs is the best way to increase job satisfaction and patient safety. Research shows that a mere 10% increase in staffing by bachelor degreed nurses results in a 5% decrease in surgical deaths. NYU, Mount Sinai, New York Presbyterian, and Hospital for Special Surgery will only hire nurses with bachelor degrees.
The new guidelines for achieving Magnet status (effective June 1, 2013) state that, “a hospital must provide an action plan and set a target which demonstrates evidence of progress toward having 80% of direct care registered nurses obtain a baccalaureate degree in nursing or higher by 2020.” This criteria is strongly influencing the hiring practices of hospitals that wish to receive Magnet designation.
Organizers in New York are also attempting to pass legislation called “BSN in 10” that will require all nurses who apply for licensure in the state to have a bachelor’s degree within ten years of successfully passing the NCLEX exam. To learn more, hereis a link to an article I like about BSN in 10.
None of these solutions are immediate but I find comfort in knowing that the problem has been identified and attempts are being made to change the culture of bedside nursing and improve patient safety. Godspeed.
Originally published 6/2/2012.