As many industries scaled back and cut resources in the last year, health care continued to grow, adding an average of 26,000 jobs per month, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. This trend is likely to continue as technological innovations and new regulations prompt additional oversight within the health care setting.
In order to meet the needs of this increasingly complex health care system, industry leaders, such as the Institute of Medicine (IOM), recommend an increase in the proportion of nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from 50 percent to 80 percent by 2020. With these additional skills, registered nurses (RNs) will be prepared to deliver high-quality patient care and, as the IOM recommends, become partners with physicians and other health care professionals in redesigning health care in the United States.
Some schools of nursing offer specialized nursing degree programs that help meet this call to action. Chamberlain College of Nursing, for example, offers an online degree completion option that allows RNs to earn their BSN in as few as three semesters – as opposed to traditional three- or four-year nursing programs – without altering their current work schedule. With the flexibility of online learning, completing a BSN degree is an attractive investment for RNs.
“Nurses who hold a bachelor’s degree have additional training in leadership, health policy, research, teamwork, collaboration and other skills that are integral to the successful function of many health care roles,” says Dr. Margi Wheeler, a registered nurse and dean of the RN-BSN online degree option at Chamberlain College of Nursing. “That type of advanced education positions nurses as more viable job candidates for managerial roles such as nursing director, clinical nurse manager or nurse practitioner, for example.”
RNs who earn their BSN degree can be qualified for nursing positions in private practices, hospitals, surgical centers and nursing homes and have greater upward mobility, whether they aspire to enter management, training, director or facilitator positions. RN-BSN graduates are also one step closer to master’s degree status, which can open doors to higher levels of health care leadership.
“Nurses can and should play an integral role in the health care system’s transformation,” says Wheeler. “Working together and encouraging each other to pursue advanced degrees, we can help to provide safer care that is accessible to all and leads to a healthier population.”
Nurses are being called upon to fill new roles in the health care setting. From harnessing new technologies and information management systems to collaborating across teams of health care professionals, nurses are expanding their presence and the traditional definition of the profession. To continue to advance the role of the nurse and meet the needs of an evolving industry, nurses must achieve higher levels of education that allow them to elevate the profession and to better serve patient needs nationwide.