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Why Continuous Learning Means More for Nurses

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Nursing is an ever-changing profession. While there’s great benefit to the daily education inherent in a nurse’s shift, opportunities for continued learning go beyond on-the-job experience.

For many RNs, nursing will be their lifelong profession, so stagnation is not an option. Ongoing growth is a must for nurses to thrive in the field. However, many RNs who have an associate degree (ADN) may wonder why they should pursue higher education.

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) is pushing more nurses to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with good reason. NAM is one of many health-related organizations that have long recognized the need for BSN-trained nurses on the forefront of healthcare to address the following issues:

  • Increasing complexities in nursing care that require more than skill-based competencies
  • Lapses in care arising from a shortage of qualified nurses in certain positions
  • Social determinants of health that require a more in-depth understanding to be properly addressed

These are just a few reasons why continued education for nurses is critical.

Breaking Down Barriers to Earning Your BSN

It’s simple enough to say, “Get your BSN,” but many RNs may be hesitant to pursue the degree for various reasons.

Cost is typically one of the main considerations. If you have a steady job, and you’re living a comfortable life, you might question the additional expense of higher education. Fortunately, some RN to BSN programs are very affordable, making the cost/benefit ratio less of a deterrent.

Another factor is length of the RN to BSN program. Spending two, three or four years earning the degree can be off-putting. However, programs exist that allow RNs to complete the degree in just over a year. Students in the online RN to BSN program at the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM), for example, can take courses at an accelerated pace and finish in as few as 14 months.

ULM’s program also provides the much-needed flexibility nurses desire, existing completely online and offering five start dates throughout the year — as opposed to requiring students to enroll in either a fall or spring term.

The university also understands students need faculty support, especially in an online environment. ULM graduate Aja Hallmark got help when she needed it. “The instructors here are super student-friendly,” she said. “They want us to be successful. When you have a dream, you feel inspired to do more with your career when you have all of these people on your side.”

Hallmark recognizes that online learning isn’t for everyone, but that if you’re dedicated to your own success, it’s a convenient and rewarding way to further your education. “The teachers aren’t going to be there making you do your assignments or make sure they’re on time. You have to put forth that effort,” she said.

What Is the Value in Pursuing Higher Education?

Nurses who want to improve the quality of their caregiving tend to make education a priority. Hallmark views her role in the field both on a personal level and in the big picture of healthcare.

“We need more nurses because healthcare is changing so much,” she said. “I could be so much more, and I feel very inspired too. I love nursing. I love my patients. I love being able to build relationships with them and their families. This extra education gives me the tools to be able to do that.”

Learn more about ULM’s online RN to BSN program.


National Academy of Medicine: The Future of Nursing 2020-2030 Driving Factors Behind the 80% BSN by 2020 Initiative

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