Data indicating that nurses with BSNs provide a higher level of patient care is fueling the demand for bachelor’s-prepared nurses nationwide. Recent research published in Nursing Economics indicated that the percentage of nurses in acute care hospitals with BSN degrees is increasing, while the number of nurses with associate’s degrees is declining in these settings.
Additional evidence for this trend comes from an American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN) survey on the employment of new nursing graduates from 2014. This survey found that 79.6% of employers either require or strongly prefer to hire nurses with a bachelor’s degree.
The demand for BSN-educated nurses is fueling an increase in BSN programs and especially RN-to-BSN programs. A 2014 survey of nursing schools by the AACN identified these trends in student enrollment:
- 2% increase in entry-level BSN programs
- 4% increase in RN-to-BSN programs
RNs with associate degrees who enroll in RN-to-BSN programs obtain the education necessary to advance their careers and practice nursing at a higher level. This trend is coming at a critical time in healthcare reform when more highly educated nurses are needed to fill critical roles especially outside of hospitals.
The highly regarded Institute of Medicine Future of Nursing report released in 2010 called for preparing at least 80% of the country’s RNs with bachelor’s degrees by 2020 in order to meet the country’s healthcare needs and deliver safe patient care.
The National Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Academic Progression in Nursing program lauds the development of sustainable educational infrastructure that will continue to support nurses who seek an advanced education.