The need for competent bedside nurses has drastically increased and so will it continue in the future. The level of basic education that a nurse should have has always been an issue of debate and controversy. The ADN program is shorter and more concise which focuses on the clinical skills and is more tasks oriented. It lacks the theory and science behind nursing as a profession. ADN nurses usually have 2-3 years education and are focused to provide individualized care to their patients based on their diagnosis.
The BSN program is a four-year degree, which is knowledge, theory and research based and the emphasis is on the entire picture of the field of nursing. The BSN nurse would use the researching and critical thinking background of her education to care for patients. Many do not realize there is a difference between the two. Both associate degree graduate and baccalaureate degree graduates take the same NCLEX board exam for licensing and enter the same job.
Unlike associate-degree nursing programs where the nurses function primarily at the bedside in less complex patient care situations, the BSN program prepares the nurse to practice in all health care settings – critical care, outpatient care, public health, and mental health. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has posted a detailed position statement (2000) and fact sheet (2010) on their websites endorsing the position that the minimum entry level requirement for nurses be a BSN degree.
The BSN nurse is well-qualified to deliver care in private homes, outpatient centers, and neighborhood clinics where demand is fast expanding as hospitals focus increasingly on acute care and as health care moves beyond the hospital to more primary and preventive services throughout the community. At increasing numbers of hospitals nationwide, baccalaureate-prepared nurses are being utilized in ways that recognize their different educational preparation and competency from associate-degree nurses.
In these differentiated practice models, BSN nurses not only provide more complex aspects of daily care and patient education, but also design and coordinate a comprehensive plan of nursing care for the entire length of a patient’s stay – from pre-admission to post-discharge – including supervising nurse’s aides and other unlicensed assistive personnel, designing discharge and teaching plans for patients, and collaborating with patients, physicians, family members, and other hospital departments and resource personnel.
Evidence shows that nursing education level is a factor in patient safety and quality of care. As cited in the report When Care Becomes a Burden released by the Milbank Memorial Fund in 2001, two separate studies conducted in 1996 – one by the state of New York and one by the state of Texas – clearly show that significantly higher levels of medication errors and procedural violations are committed by nurses prepared at the associate degree and diploma levels as compared with the baccalaureate level.
These findings are consistent with findings published in the July/August 2002 issue of Nurse Educator magazine that references studies conducted in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Ohio and Tennessee that also found that nurses prepared at the associate degree and diploma levels make the majority of practice-related violations. AACN and other authorities believe that education has a strong impact on a nurse’s ability to practice, and that patients deserve the best educated nursing workforce possible. A growing body of research reinforces this belief and shows a connection between baccalaureate education and lower mortality rates.
Baccalaureate 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 sciences, nursing research, public and community health, nursing management, and the humanities. The additional course work enhances the student’s professional development, prepares the new nurse for a broader scope of practice, and provides the nurse with a better understanding of the cultural, political, economic, and social issues that affect patients and influence health care delivery.
Throughout the last decade, policymakers and practice leaders have recognized that education makes a difference. (http://www. aacn. nche. edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/impact-of-education. References http://www. aacn. nche. edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/impact-of-education. (n. d). The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice . Retrieved May 21, 2013, from http://www. aacn. nche. edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/impact-of-education.
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