A 2010 National Academy of Medicine Report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” examined the state of the nursing workforce and the experience and degrees obtained by nurses at that time. The report made several recommendations, including that 80% of registered nurses (RNs) should possess a baccalaureate degree by 2020.
We are now in 2017 and, according to a recent article, the increase is not happening rapidly enough to meet that 2020 goal. In fact, a newly released study in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship showed that only 57% of nurses had obtained a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) in 2013—a number up by only 13% since 2004.
While experts are skeptical about the industry’s ability to meet this 80% mark, progress has been made. Some argue that recommendations made in The Future of Nursing report had an effect on the number of nurses who would decide to pursue their BSN, with new predictions forecasting that as many as 64% of nurses will hold such accreditation by 2020.
The Importance of Educated Nurses
The unpredictable nature of the health insurance landscape and higher inpatient costs call for more educated providers who can help streamline and coordinate care. As reimbursements become increasingly scarce, it will become even more critical for facilities to reduce readmissions and overall costs without sacrificing quality of care.
The American Nurses Association is a strong advocate for nurses to help reduce readmissions through enhanced care transitions and strong communication. Launched in 2008, Project BOOST (Better Outcomes by Optimizing Safe Transitions) aims to help facilities cut down on readmissions by using toolkits to educate nurses on how to provide the most effective care. While these programs do help improve the quality of nursing practice, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports evidence that higher levels of education can result in improved clinical outcomes.
Making it Happen
Authors of the 2013 study support incentivizing existing registered nurses with tuition waivers and scheduling that supports continued education. Additionally, some have advocated for more stringent hiring requirements at hospitals, such as requiring nurses to obtain a BSN as a prerequisite to employment. To further help nurses receive their degree, facilities may look to provide their own education online or collaborate with community colleges or nursing schools.
Though a lofty goal, with additional support the nursing profession can reach its goal of 80%, and do their part to improve the quality of care as well as the financial well-being of hospitals and other care facilities.