Nursing education has progressed throughout history from one of uneducated lay persons to the current standards we know today. As the career has progressed it has become apparent that there is a need for a skilled labor forced trained to deal with the sick and dying, “the provision of nursing care by American women…demonstrated the effectiveness of skilled nursing on improving outcomes for sick and injured soldiers” (Creasia & Friberg, 2011, p. 4). However, as the career progresses so does the need for more specialized training amongst nurses to help them deal with the changing atmosphere of patient care.
The future of nursing is trending towards care that involves not only treating the signs and symptoms, but enhancing the patient’s health through prevention and education. In order to meet these new demands the nurse of today needs to be skilled to handle these changes. Bachelor’s degree nursing programs “encompass all of the course work taught in associate degree and diploma programs, plus a more in-depth treatment of the physical and social science, nursing research, public and community health, nursing management, and the humanities” (Baccalaureate Degree, 2001).
This additional training prepares the nurse to have a better understanding of the outside influences that might affect their patient, along with providing them with a scope of practice that is typically broader than that of their associate counterparts (Baccalaureate Degree, 2001). These skills become important for the nurse, they can range the gamut from being able to make split second decisions in critical patient situations to simply designing a comprehensive plan of care for the patient.
Many hospitals are currently recognizing the significance of the bachelors prepared nurse and are affording these nurses more responsibilities in providing patient care that highlight the complexity of the their skills over that of associate degree trained nurses (Baccalaureate Degree, 2001). “Throughout the last decade, policymakers and practice leaders have recognized that education makes a difference” (Impact of Education, n. d. ). Hospitals are also trending towards preferred hiring of bachelors prepared nurses for their workforce.
Even national organizations are jumping on the bandwagon requiring “all nurse managers and nurse leaders to hold a baccalaureate or graduate degree in nursing by 2013” (Impact of Education, n. d. ), likewise the Institute of Medicine has also recommended that all hospitals have at least 80% of their nursing staff with a BSN or higher by the year 2020 (Impact of Education, n. d. ). Recent research has shown that hospitals and health care organizations that employ a higher number of bachelors prepared nurses see better patient outcomes as a result of the nurse having a greater capacity to practice (Impact of Education, n.d. ).
Studies have shown that bachelors prepared nurses practice more confidently and as a result can react faster to patient situations resulting in better outcomes (Impact of Education, n. d. ). Also a bachelor’s prepared nurse is trained more extensively in “clinical, scientific, decision making, and humanistic skills, including preparation in community health, patient education, and nursing management and leadership” (Baccalaureate Degree, 2001) The education that patients get in how to care for themselves after leaving the hospital leads to better outcomes once they are gone and less recurrence of illness.
The bachelors prepared nurse is better trained to handle this as their skills “are essential for practice in other community sites, such as health maintenance organizations, home health services, community clinics, and managed care firms” (Baccalaureate Degree, 2001). Also multiple studies form a variety of healthcare facilities have shown a link between a decrease in patient mortality at facilities that employ a higher percentage of bachelors trained nurses. In some cases the incidence of mortality has decreased by as much as 5% with an increase in bachelors prepared nurses at the bedside (Baccalaureate Degree, 2001).
The definition of nursing according to the American Nurses Association is the following: “Nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations” (2012). Nurses first and foremost treat patients through education. In the situation where a patient is admitted to the hospital, teaching beings at admission but the role of the bachelors trained nurses and the associates trained nurse differs in the roles that they play.
In hospitals “baccalaureate-prepared nurses are utilized in ways that recognize their different education preparation and competency from other entry-level RNs” (Baccalaureate Degree, 2001). These nurses are being afforded the ability to take on more tasks including preparing a plan that incorporates all aspects of the patients care from before they are admitted, encompassing their entire stay and ending with preparing a plan of care for the patient to follow at home.
They also keep the lines of communication open between all of the different disciplines involved and coordinate care between them. This is because “studies have also found that nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level have stronger communication and problem solving skills (Johnson, 1988, as cited by Boren 2012) and a higher proficiency in their ability to make nursing diagnoses and evaluate nursing interventions (Giger & Davidhizar, 1990, as cited by Boren 2012)”, (Impact of Education, n.d. ).
In the same situation an associate degree nurse would still provide education but they would participate by providing care at the bedside and teaching on less complex situations such as “how to cope with their conditions and to maintain their care upon discharge” (Baccalaureate Degree, 2001). Nursing is a constantly evolving career and as nurses the best way to be prepared for these changes is to be educated and to constantly strive to improve and continue our education.
The bachelor’s degree program prepares the nurse to be better prepared to handle the workforce through several aspects. Bachelors prepared nurses have a wider knowledge base which can result in improved patient safety, lower mortality rates, and better patient education which in the end results in better patient outcomes. References American Nursing Association (2012), What is Nursing, retrieved 28 August 2012 from: http://www. nursingworld. org/EspeciallyForYou/What-is-Nursing Creasia, J. L. , & Friberg, E. (2011).
Conceptual Foundations: The Bridge to professional nursing practice (5th ed. ). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders Publishing. The Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing as Minimal Preparation for Professional Practice. (2001). American Association of College of Nursing. Retrieved from http://www. aacn. nche. edu/publications/position/bacc-degree-prep The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice. (n. d. ). American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Retrieved from http://www. aacn. nche. edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/impact-of-education.
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