Do you need a bachelor’s degree to be successful in nursing? Technically, no. But with today’s fast-moving nursing landscape, that’s changing.
For years, RNs – registered nurses with a two-year Associate’s Degree – have been the backbone of the healthcare industry. They provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients about health conditions, and offer advice and emotional support to patients and their families. And RNs continue to be in demand. Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs that prepare students to become RNs remain significant offerings at many Fortis College and Institute campuses.
The Growing Need for Bachelor Degrees in Nursing
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects demand for RNs will grow faster than most careers for another eight years or more, demand also is growing for nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. More than three years ago, The New York Times reported hundreds of the nation’s hospitals were beginning to require their nurses to have at least a bachelor’s degree.
It’s a trend that has been growing ever since, prompted by the “magnet” designation given by the American Nurses Association (ANA) to hospitals with high levels of education among their nurses, as well as a position statement from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). That statement said changes in health care required nurses to practice across many disciplines and function with more independence as well. To meet that goal, the Association now recognizes a bachelor’s degree in nursing as a minimum educational requirement.
Additionally, The Institute of Medicine has issued a call that 80 percent of America’s nurses have a bachelor’s or master’s degree by 2020 – just a few years from now. And a significant number of nurses today agree with the initiative, pointing to the high stakes of their jobs when it comes to quality patient care and patient safety.
So, while the demand for registered nurses continues to be strong, new nursing candidates planning to enter the field may want to consider a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or plan for their ADN to be an intermediary step toward a BSN once they gain some experience. Current RNs should think about taking an RN-to-BSN bridge program – often with an online component – geared toward working nurses.