Empowering Nurses at the Bedside and in Business

Mandatory B.S.N.

In 1964, the American Nurses Association supported the position that all nurses should have a B.S.N.  However, nothing really became of it until the State of New York made the bold move last week by passing legislation requiring all New York State nurses to have a B.S.N. within 10 years.

New York encompasses 8% of all R.N.’s in the United States and sets a precedent for the other States to require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing be obtained within ten years of initial licensure in order to remain licensed as an R.N.

There are many R.N. to B.S.N. programs online and many hospitals do reimburse their nurses for continuing their education.  According to the New York law, which took more than 14 years to be passed, if a nurse is currently licensed, they will be “grandfathered in.”

While I think continued education is great, when I earned my B.S.N. I had 3 years of clinical nursing practice in my school.  It was then changed to 2 years.  I can’t say that any of the B.S.N. classes general education requirements really prepared me for a position as a Registered Nurse.  However, when thinking in terms of nurses gaining power, we were the only ones in the health care profession who were not required to get a B.S. degree or 4 years degree.  Respiratory Therapists, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Dieticians, Speech Therapists and Pharmacists all have 4 year degrees or more.

I am hopeful that when nurses do obtain their degree, they will stand in their power and be a change agent to improve patient care.  I am hoping that this change will allow nurses to speak their mind to show how valuable and needed they are and allow us to stand together to make changes that are necessary for our profession.

Ideally, I would like to see that nurses charge a separate fee for their services.  Physicians charge a separate fee and depending on the acuity or number of procedures, they can charge more.  Once we nurses become a revenue producing center rather than a cost center that comes with the room, such as housekeeping and dietary, we will get the recognition that we deserve.

Right now, nursing is fragmented in that there are so many different degrees.  We need to be unified in our education and unified in our approach to our nursing practice so that our recommendations will be implemented.

Do you think other States will follow and progress with this requirement?  North Dakota passed similar legislation, but it was overturned in 2003.  Do you think this will affect the smaller States where the nursing shortage is greater?  If we want to get more nurses in the workforce, doesn’t it make sense that we should prepare them in a shorter period of time?  What do you think about this; getting a B.S.N. in 10 years?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and invite you to leave your comments below.

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