Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Great Debate

Aside from patient safety and quality scores, I bet the hottest topic in nursing is the entry into practice debate. An interesting article arrived in my e-mailbox this morning about the BSN becoming the required degree for entry into nursing practice. The debate is not new - in fact it has been going on for 47 years! And if you read the many, many comments posted in response to the article, it is clear that nurses have strong and varying opinions about the topic.

The article highlights several well-known studies and publications (see below for links) that support the BSN as entry into practice as well as support better matriculation and progression between colleges and universities. What the article did not address is the issue of continuing education (CE) for renewal of licensure. According to the ANA, a little over half of US states have this requirement. It is my opinion that continued learning and education is an essential part of developing and maintaining professional practice and ensuring safe, quality care by nursing staff. Many nurses do little to enrich their clinical practice or keep current on best-practices, products & technology, medications and other relevant topics. Once nurses have completed their degree (no matter what level), how do we keep them on the path to ongoing learning?

There is no doubt that there are many issues that need to be addressed if states are going to require a minimum of a BSN for entry into nursing including requirements for current non-BSN nurses, costs, scheduling, wages, etc. Nurses need to understand the potential benefits and positive impact of a change such as this on patient care. And hopefully the push is to focus on providing the highest quality care to patients and not for recognition purposes.


Future of Nursing Report

AACN - The Impact of Nursing Education on Practice