The field of nursing has been stressed and strained for many years, and healthcare professionals have been forced to navigate significant issues stemming from the integration of new technology to persistent workforce shortages. To avoid an increasingly dire situation, nurses must receive advanced instruction and training to prepare for the challenges ahead. Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) online programs allow nurses to become leaders in healthcare transformation.
What Factors Affect Healthcare Delivery?
While healthcare delivery was struggling before the COVID-19 pandemic, the global crisis highlighted some of the most pressing matters. Factors impacting the efficient delivery of healthcare services include “access problems, unsustainable costs, suboptimal outcomes and disparities,” says Orthopedic Nursing journal, “along with changing social and disease-type demographics.”
In general, Americans are living longer and managing more chronic diseases than ever before. Staffing shortages — among nurses and nearly every healthcare professional — alongside high rates of chronic disease is creating an unprecedented strain on healthcare resources. Since “nurses comprise the largest component of the healthcare workforce, are the primary providers of hospital patient care and deliver most of the nation’s long-term care,” according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), it makes sense that nursing education must adapt to this new dynamic.
How Is Nursing Education Changing?
For several decades, nurses launched their careers upon completion of a diploma or associate program, and some even received their initial education through hospital-based programs. However, as the complexity of care and the scope of nursing practice have grown, nursing education requirements have evolved, too.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM), now called the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), published a 2010 report called The Future of Nursing. The committee recommended four actions to keep the nursing workforce functioning optimally despite these potential challenges. They suggested that nurses should:
- Pursue higher levels of education, including a nationwide priority to have 80% of RNs earn their BSN
- Practice at the top of their education and training
- Assume leadership positions alongside physicians and other healthcare professionals
- Improve data collection to enhance workforce planning and policymaking
RN to BSN curricula serve to assist nurses in developing the competencies needed today, “especially in the domains of community and public health, geriatrics, leadership, health policy, system improvement and change, research and evidence-based practice, and teamwork and collaboration,” notes the report.
Is Now a Good Time to Earn a BSN?
Demand for BSN-educated nurses has exploded due to the IOM report recommendations and the changing healthcare landscape. Seventy-seven percent of employers prefer BSN program graduates, according to 2021 AACN data, and 40.6% of healthcare employers require the degree as a condition of employment. Nurses seeking employment or promotions at Magnet institutions benefit from pursuing a BSN degree since all nurse managers and nurse leaders at these facilities must have a BSN or more advanced degree.
Nurses not only need a greater foundational level of knowledge and research capacities to handle complex patient care, but they must also be ready to assume leadership and advisory roles. These skills are critical to better represent the needs of nurses and patients in new policies and interventions.
The online RN to BSN program at the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) helps nurses develop in-demand competencies, maintain the highest level of evidence-based care and prepare for leadership roles or further graduate study. ULM faculty work closely with students for the program duration, offering ongoing support and guidance to aid students in completing their educational journey.
Nursing is evolving, and so is nursing education. RN to BSN degree programs utilize robust curricula to ensure nurses can provide high acuity care and step into leadership and policymaker roles. Employers strongly prefer BSN-educated nurses due to their expanded skill sets and advanced competencies.
Learn more about ULM’s online RN to BSN program.