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For several years many have questioned the difference between? nurses educated at the baccalaureate level and those with associate degree or diploma educations. Authorities and educators agree advanced education has a strong impact on a nurse’s ability to practice. All graduates of entry level nursing programs take the exact same NCLEX liscencing exam. The fact new nurses pass this exam at the same rate doesn’t mean that all entry level nurses are equally prepared for practice. The exam doesn’t test for differences between graduates of different programs, measure performance over time, or test for all of the knowledge and skills developed through a baccalaureate program.(Fact Sheet, par 4)

Research shows that lower mortality rates, positive outcomes are connected to nurses with degrees beyond the associate level.(AACN, 2013) In a study published in the September 2003 Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr Linda Aiken and her colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania identified that surgical patients have a “substantial survival advantage” if treated in hospitals with higher porpotions of nurses educated at the BSN level or higher. (Fact Sheet, p 4) Ten years later In the February 2013 issue of the Journal of Nursing Administration. Mary Blegen and colleagues published data based on a cross-sectional study of 21 University Healthsystem Consortium hospitals which found that hospitals with a higher percentage of RNs with baccalaureate degrees or higher had lower congestive heart mortality, decubitus ulcers, failure to rescue, medication errors, and postoperative deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism and shorter lengths of stay. (Fact Sheet, p 3) Evidence also suggest that BSN prepared nurses are more likely to demonstrate professional behaviors important to patient safety. These behaviors include problem solving, performance of complex functions, and effective communication. According to the GCU philosophy of Nursing and Health Care Professional “baccalaureate nursing practice incorporates the roles of assessing, critical thinking, communication, providing care, teaching, and leading.

“Traditonally registered nurse jobs would include recording patient signs and symptoms, obtaining medical history, administering medications, supporting the family, educating patients on diseases, using basic medical equipment and working closely with physicians. In comparison to an ADN level nurse, a BSN nurse conducts more complex procedures under the doctors supervision and can be in charge of other nursing staff. A BSN degree can take you from registered nurse to statuses like nurse educator, public health nurse, and other specialties not available to ADN nurses. (Nightingale.edu) More education equates to more leadership roles, responsibilities and higher pay.

I’ve always appreciated the need for continuing education. I understand having a BSN degree held more weight than ADN and was essential for career advancement. After reading articles, text, and journals I have come to realize this is true but not for the reasons I believed. The proven research shows BSN educated nurses directly correlates to better patient outcomes with fewer complications. There’s not much variation to skill level when either a BSN or ADN begins as a novice nurse. What changes and differentiates the two is the advanced thought process displayed by the BSN nurse over time. The extended education received at the baccalaureate level prepares nurses to better develop clinical assessment, comprehension and judgement. With constant changes happening in nursing and healthcare; the pursuit of higher education is not only important but necessary as society progresses. More and more hospitals are now requiring nurses to have 4 year degrees. Hospitals are reaching for magnet status which requires the employment of nurses with at least a BSN degree. The desire to advance in nursing has been my goal from the beginning.

I haven’t worked as bedside nurse in a few years but one situation that remained on my mind was when my mother was in the hospital. The doctors wanted to discharge her based on the ADN nurses report of my mother refusing her medications and being combative with staff both verbally and physically. At the time I was an LVN. I remember pleading with the nurse to advocate for my mom. I knew she wasn’t acting like herself and wasn’t ready to come home. After getting nowhere with her nurse or the doctor, I asked to speak with the nurse manager. I explained the situation, and my mothers condition. the nurse manager then read my mothers lab reports and noticed a very high ammonia level, which explained the reason of her confused and aggressive behavior. She then placed a call to the physician, because of this my mother was able to receive the care she needed. The ADN nurse did not use critical thinking to evaluate why my mother all of stated acting out of sorts. Where as the BSN nurse took the time to listen to me and use advanced problem solving to make a judgement that was beneficial was the patient (my mom). Sadly my mother passed away not long after but had it not been for the BSN nurse she may have very well died that night.

Creating a More Highly Qualified Nursing Workforce. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.aacnnursing.org/News-Information/Fact-Sheets/Nursing-Workforce

Nightingale College – Nursing Program | ADN |RN to BSN … (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nightingale.edu/

College of Nursing and Health Care Professions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gcu.edu/college-of-nursing-and-health-care-professions.php

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