Lately, questions about the minimum qualifications for practicing nurses have been raised. Concerns particularly emerged when a research conducted by Aiken et al. concluded that low level of training may have a stake in postsurgical mortality rate. Consequently, most stakeholders are advocating for adjustments in the minimum level of education before one can be licensed to practice as a nurse. Currently, practicing nurses are either diploma holders, associate degree holders or baccalaureate degree holders. AACN-The American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the organization of professional nurses both concur with a recommendation submitted by NACNEP-The National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice that required the more than 67 percent of all practicing nurses had a baccalaureate degree as a minimum by 2010. The response has been enormous because by 2004 the number of nurses that were diploma holders had dropped to only about 17.5 percent while the number of baccalaureate degree holders had risen to about 30 percent.
Importance of Baccalaureate Education
Baccalaureate degree training widens the understanding of ADN- Associate Degree Nurses of issues such as management, theories, communicable diseases and handling of clients’ concepts that are not taught at diploma and Associate degree levels. The essence of baccalaureate degree is not to undermine the importance of AND as this forms an important base in articulating nursing skills to all nurses. Changing nursing profession challenges are forcing practicing nurses to return to school for baccalaureate degrees. Some of the motivators that have driven return RN nurses to undertake BSN are fulfillment of personals goals, access to promotion and desire to shift from clinical works (p.308). However, some practicing nurses feel that the program is demeaning their previous education as most of the courses provided to RN-BSN students are deemed redundant and need to be replaced with other professional like courses. Although there are 628 baccalaureate schools, the number of return RN students has remained at its minimum and thus begging questions on the viability of the present curriculum.
Articulating Nursing Training Programs
Urgent measures need to be put in place to encourage more RN students to undertake baccalaureate degrees. Many states have accommodated articulation process that encourages RN students to undertake BSN programs. Articulation falls into three categories; personal, mandated and statewide (p.309). Statewide articulation aims at encouraging voluntary enrolment of RN students through collaborative measures from educators, legislatures and regulators. About 24 states are currently enhancing statewide articulation with participation from even public institutions. On the other hand 18 states have not embraced either statewide or mandate articulation and are rather developing individual agreement which is mainly determined by geographic regions and lacks consistency.
Many states have not fully articulated these RN-BSN programs into their nursing schools; the current trends have a few common courses. Currently, RN-BSN curricula offer five categories of course; pre-licensure courses, bridge courses, core courses, service learning, innovative courses (p.310). Although common courses are taught across all states, there exist numerous differences in the core concepts delivered in different institutions that need to be streamlined to ensure consistence across the nursing profession. National League of Nursing has been actively trying to establish homogeneity across all states; this process encompasses incorporation of all proposed adjustments by RN-BSN students and other stakeholders. One of the concepts under review has been cutting down the programs completion duration to the minimum; most of the participants are no longer youngsters and do not want to waste much more time schooling and to retain them in classes, the RN-BSN curricula should be compressed as much as possible.
In conclusion, coming up with a curriculum that will suite everyone’s needs is very difficult, however all involved stakeholders should make urgent adjustments that will enhance the program’s popularity and achieve the initial goals. Research has indicated that nurses with education skills below BSN are not as efficient as their counterparts that have trained beyond BSN level and it’s paramount that more nurses achieve the desired level of competence.