Many professionals pursue lifelong learning to stay relevant in their fields, and it’s definitely worthwhile for career longevity. In nursing, lifelong learning may save lives — not to mention your job. This is one reason for the need for more registered nurses (RNs) to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Earning a BSN can be one of the most powerful ways for nurses to create positive change in healthcare. The online RN to BSN program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is 100% online, offering multiple start dates, making it possible for RNs to take this important step in their careers when the time is right. There is no need to wait for the start of a new school year.
How Are BSNs Making a Difference?
Nurses have an ethical commitment to pursue lifelong learning, and earning a BSN can make a significant difference in patient outcomes. For some patients, receiving care from BSN-prepared nurses make a real difference.
RNs can currently practice with either an associate degree, a nursing diploma or a BSN. In each case, successful completion of the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) leads to state licensure. Still, earning a BSN is becoming the expectation.
The value that BSN-prepared nurses bring to the practice setting is widely recognized. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) notes that BSN nurses are “prized for their skills in critical thinking, leadership, case management, and health promotion, and for their ability to practice across a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings.”
There is a growing body of evidence that RNs prepared at the BSN level and higher have better patient care outcomes. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF):
- Hospitals with a higher percentage of BSN-prepared nurses have lower patient mortality rates. One study found that a 10% increase in BSN-prepared nurses correlated with a 7% reduction in patient deaths.
- An earlier hospital study showed that the likelihood of patient death decreased by 5% with a 10% increase in BSN-prepared nurses.
- Hospitals that hired more BSN-prepared nurses between 1999 and 2006 had greater declines in mortality than hospitals that did not increase the number of nurses with BSNs.
- A study of individual patients found similarly positive results for patients cared for by a higher proportion of BSN-prepared nurses. These patients were less likely to die. They also had shorter hospital stays and lower healthcare costs.
How Does Quality and Safety Improve With a BSN?
A recent study helps explain the link between higher levels of education and improved patient outcomes. The study looked at quality and safety educational preparedness in two cohorts of associate and bachelor’s degree nurses graduating between 2007–2008 and 2014–2015.
Looking at the 2014–2015 group, a significantly higher percentage of BSNs than ADNs reported being “very prepared” in 12 of 16 survey topics. These areas include evidence-based practice, data analysis and quality improvement project implementation.
Overall, the gap has more than doubled in the 2014–2015 cohort, compared with 2007–2008. Notably, the largest difference was found in patient-centered care.
The study supports the call for 80% of the nation’s nurses to have a BSN or higher by 2020. According to the Campaign for Action, progress toward that goal is at an all-time high. Nationally, the percentage of RNs with a BSN or higher is at 56%, up from 49% in 2010. Louisiana, for example, is among the top five states with the largest percentage growth in its BSN-prepared nurses.
An online RN to BSN program can offer RNs ready to raise their skill levels the flexibility they need to continue working. At the same time, they can begin to apply what they are learning to improve their practice. At UL Lafayette, for example, RN to BSN students build on their nursing background to develop clinical reasoning and leadership skills. The program emphasizes:
- Nursing leadership and management, with attention to decision-making, negotiating, collaborating, problem-solving and team-building
- Evidence-based practice
- Population-based healthcare
- Ethical and legal aspects of nursing practice
A BSN is becoming the expectation in nursing today; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics now lists a BSN as the typical entry-level degree for RNs. Hospitals are increasingly requiring RNs to have a BSN. Looking at employment options alone, earning a BSN makes a lot of sense.
Earning a BSN is about much more than job security. Nursing is the largest healthcare profession, giving RNs an unmatched opportunity to improve quality of care. Misty Soto, a UL Lafayette RN to BSN online graduate, summed up the benefit of her BSN, saying, “My education at UL Lafayette has encouraged me to not just practice nursing, but to pioneer best practice changes in the field.”
Learn more about the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s online RN to BSN program.