Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Facilitating Educational Advancement of RNs to the Baccalaureate: What Are They Telling Us?

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Facilitating Educational Advancement of RNs to the Baccalaureate: What Are They Telling Us?

Article excerpt

Educational advancement of associate degree (AD) nursing graduates has been slow (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2010) and appears to lack incentives in some settings (Orsolini-Hain, 2012). Acknowledgment that the nursing educational system needs to alter its current approaches in order to meet the Institute of Medicine goal of 80 percent of registered nurses holding baccalaureate degrees by 2020 is well founded (IOM, 2010). This work brings to light the experiences of nurses who have advanced to BSNs and highlights their challenges and victories. To date, this is the first summation of the experiences of these nurses. Our challenge is to design programs for RNs that reflect their learning needs and lifestyles. In order for these nurses to progress, we need to first hear their voices.


A review of the literature using the CINAHL and PubMed databases for the period January 2000 through April 2013 was accomplished utilizing the key words and headings Academic Achievement; Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate; Faculty, Nursing; Students, Nursing, Associate; Education, PostRN; Perception; Personal Satisfaction; Reflection; Students, Nursing, Baccalaureate; Reaming Methods; Registered Nurses; Nurse Attitudes; Academic Achievement; Nursing, Staff, Hospital; and Associate Degree Nurses. The ProQuest database of dissertations and theses was searched using similar terms for the same timeframe.

The landmark study by Aiken, Clarke, Cheung, Sloane, and Silber in 2003 paved the way to recognition of the need for RNs to be educated at the baccalaureate level or higher. Improving upon the approximately 21 percent national rate (USDHHS, 2010) of earned BSNs among nurses initially educated at the diploma or associate degree level is essential.

Quantitative researchers have assisted in the identification of variables that may support nurses in their quest for educational advancement. Rosa (2009) and Altmann (2012) both found the role of faculty in pre-licensure programs to be influential in the decision to return to school. Rosa's inquiry revealed that faculty perspectives emphasizing the importance of a recuperative period following AD program completion, linkages created by matriculation agreements among educational institutions, and advising support by the institution positively impacted nurses' decisions to return to school for a BSN (Rosa).

Associate degree faculty in Rosa's (2009) study reportedly felt a moral obligation to advise their students to advance educationally as colleagues within the dynamic profession of nursing. Educational advancement for AD and diploma graduates benefits from the time these nurses have spent on socialization to the profession (Rosa, 2009; Rush, Waldrop, Mitchell, & Dyches, 2005). Socialization may enable the RN-to-BSN student to engage with and benefit from the educational experience at a higher level than is possible for a student who enters the profession with a BSN.

The value and contribution of a BSN to a well-rounded nurse's practice has been unconditionally accepted. DeBrew (2010) performed a content analysis of data collected from RN-to-BSN graduates and pre-licensure BSN graduates revealing that both groups of nurses are achieving the outcomes intended for liberal education. DeBrew described outcomes of liberal education associated with engagement in courses outside the nursing discipline that are believed to enhance the ability to think critically and effectively, communicate and collaborate with others, appreciate diversity, and, in general, support higher levels of problem solving. The same inquiry affirmed that attaining a BSN makes a difference in the nursing practice and personal lives of both groups.

As advocated and described by Tanner (2010), statewide, seamless models for educational mobility that collaboration among community colleges, universities, and practice settings makes possible are likely to increase the rate of educational advancement of diploma and AD nursing graduates to the baccalaureate and beyond (Niederhauser, MacIntyre, Garner, Teel, & Murray, 2010; Tanner). …

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