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Where Do Urban Nurses Without BSN Degrees Find Jobs?

Submitted by Admin on June 16, 2010, 8:06 am
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A Philadelphia RN says the lack of a BSN degree led to his being turned away from several jobs. The phenomenon, according to a recent article at HealthLeaders Media, is not unusual.

"New nurses entering the field in cities may be surprised with how they are greeted," writes Sarah Kearns for HealthLeaders Media. "An associate's degree in nursing is not good enough."

Anecdotes about non-BSN nurses failing to secure jobs will probably become more common in the next decade, as the BSN-in-10 policy becomes widespread across the nation. Although new nurses may be forgiven for thinking a diploma or associate's degree is still "good enough"--given the plethora of ADN nursing programs in urban areas--ignorance won't make a convincing excuse much longer. Read on to discover what new legislative changes may mean to your nursing career...

How BSN-in-10 Affects Nursing Careers

BSN-in-10 legislation requires working RNs to earn a BSN degree within 10 years of initial licensure in order to continue practicing in the nursing field. Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey have already introduced such legislation, and several other states are considering it.

The BSN-in-10 initiative has a strong backing from the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). It seems possible that all nurses in the US will one day be baccalaureate-prepared--as they already are in countries such as Canada, Sweden, Portugal, Brazil, Iceland, Korea, Greece, and the Philippines.

Many RNs are returning to school to earn their BSN degree, whether legally required or not. Even in states which do not require a baccalaureate degree, many hospitals and clinics have a BSN-preferred policy. "I was passed over for promotion twice, and I do believe it had a lot to do with only having a diploma," said Olivia Nega, RN, from Maryland. "When my high school daughter started talking about becoming a nurse, she took it for granted that she'd attend a 4-year program. Now my goal is to get a BSN before my daughter does!"

BSN Bias Is Not New

The preference towards nurses with bachelor's degrees is hardly a new trend. The HealthLeaders Media article cites a veteran nurse, Joanie McMahon MS, RN, who says that the preference for baccalaureate-prepared nurses has been around since the early 1980s, when there was a hiring freeze at many hospitals. The movement has gained momentum over the past 30 years. Now that nursing education is starting to become not just a matter of preference, but also of law and written policy, change at the national level may happen more quickly than expected.

Some new nurses are relying on the nursing shortage to keep them in demand. One ADN nurse on a popular nursing forum wrote, "Old nurses are retiring and baby boomers are going to need care. Hospitals can't afford not to hire us." While such reasoning may sound logical on the surface, it's the growing demands of healthcare that make highly qualified nurses more necessary now than ever before. Nurses with BSNs and MSNs are more competent than ADNs to handle the complex health needs of the aging population. They will also be more qualified to take on expanded roles, as the expected shortage of primary health care physicians leads to innovative health care solutions in rural and urban areas alike.

ADNs May Not Cut It In the Countryside

The HealthLeaders Media concludes by suggesting that new RNs without BSNs who are having no luck landing urban jobs try applying to rural health care settings. While this may be a good short-term strategy, it may not last nurses throughout the course of their career.

My clinic serves the entire population of a town in rural Mississippi," says Angel Gomez, MSN, an advanced practice nurse with 20 years of experience. "I cannot afford to hire ADNs or diploma nurses. They may be just as bright and capable, but I need someone who can take on managerial responsibilities and do patient assessments. If there's an emergency and I'm not in the clinic I like to know that my staff have leadership skills, that they have the confidence to make snap decisions. Right now I employ 2 RNs and they both have BSNs."

"Nurses should not be thinking in terms of 'what's the quickest path to become a nurse,'" adds Gomez. "They should be thinking, how can I best prepare myself. And the data shows that the more education a nurse has, the more positive patient outcomes there are."

Whether you're looking for a nursing job in urban or in rural areas, don't be surprised if your diploma or ADN doesn't win you the coveted interview. With all the recent press about the desirability of BSNs, new nurses should be well aware by now of the impact their educational path has on their career.

Does that mean new non-BSN nurses have to resign themselves to low-paying jobs or unappealing settings? Not at all. Online RN-to-BSN bridge programs are plentiful and excellent. Any dedicated nurse, whether new or experienced, can attain a BSN in a short time. With BSN-in-10 legislation possibly around the corner, why wait?

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