BSN in 10: Changing Nursing Education for the Future

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When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the nation’s first “BSN in 10” regulations, the historic moment marked a new era in nursing education. The legislation, which took effect in late 2017, requires new registered nurses (RNs) to earn a baccalaureate degree in nursing within 10 years of initial licensure in New York. The state law is the first to acknowledge the need for highly educated nurses who can meet the increasingly complex medical demands of the aging population.

Stethoscope graduation cap and diploma

For decades, healthcare leaders have been advocating for RNs to earn Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. The modern-day momentum for nurses to earn a BSN came in 2010 after the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) milestone report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.” The report recommended 80 percent of nurses nationwide earn a BSN by 2020.

“Transforming the nursing profession is a crucial element to achieving the nation’s vision of an effective, affordable health care system that is accessible and responsive to all,” said Linda Burnes Bolten, vice president and chief nursing officer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Bolten served on the independent advisory group that crafted the report.

In the past, RNs typically entered the profession after earning an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or diploma in nursing. Today, many hospitals will not consider a candidate without a BSN for a nursing position. RNs are turning to RN-BSN online programs to expand their career options, including Duquesne University’s online program.

Moving Toward BSN in 10 Legislation

Since the 1960s, the American Nurses Association (ANA) has been calling for RNs to earn at least a BSN degree because of the advanced skills covered in the program. In the 1990s, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) launched its Magnet Recognition Program, which recognizes hospitals that have nurses who deliver superior care, among other criteria.

To qualify as a Magnet hospital, 100 percent of staff nursing managers must have at least a BSN degree. Magnet hospitals must also have detailed action plans to ensure that 80 percent of their direct-care nurses have BSN degrees by 2020.

In 2010, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation collaborated with the IOM and formed an advisory group to conduct a two-year needs assessment of the nursing profession. The advisory group members developed four key messages that are followed today:

  • Nurses should practice to the fullest extent of their education and training.
  • Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through improved educational systems.
  • Nurses should be full partners with other healthcare professionals to redesign health care.
  • Healthcare professionals must compile and analyze data and information for effective healthcare workforce planning for the future.

Major nursing organizations, including the ANA and the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), back efforts to bolster hospital nursing staffs with BSN-educated RNs and require new nurses earn their BSN within 10 years of licensure.

What Is the BSN in 10 Law in New York?

The legislation in New York, which had been under consideration for more than 14 years, mandates newly graduated nurses earn a BSN within 10 years of initial licensure. Current nursing students who earn a license in another state but later work in New York must fulfill the BSN requirement. However, nurses who already have a practice license are exempt from the requirement.

In developing the legislation, lawmakers cited the increasing complexity of the American healthcare system, the aging population and rapidly expanding technology.

“The nurse of the future must be prepared to partner with multiple disciplines as a collaborator and manager of the complex patient care journey. Shorter lengths of stay, higher patient acuity, and more sophisticated technologies and procedures are increasing the complexity of patient care, which in turn places great demands on nursing competencies,” lawmakers wrote in the New York bill.

New York lawmakers also created a temporary commission that would make recommendations to the governor regarding entry barriers into nursing, including the availability and access of BSN programs.

The Future of the BSN in 10

New York is currently the only state to have a mandate for nurse education. Rhode Island and New Jersey lawmakers put forth bills that would require nursing baccalaureate degrees within 10 years of graduation, but no final determinations have been reached. From 1986 through 2003, North Dakota required RNs to have BSN degrees, but the regulation was later rescinded, partly due to a lack of consensus in the nursing community.

At the same time, a growing number of hospitals are becoming Magnet certified and hiring only baccalaureate-educated nurses. The latest data, from 2016, shows 445 hospitals in the nation have earned Magnet status.

For RNs who are considering continuing their education, an RN-BSN online program can open doors to new career opportunities. A BSN education provides greater job security as medical facilities and state laws turn to the BSN model.

At Duquesne University, the RN to BSN curriculum focuses on leadership skills and advanced nursing techniques to provide students with the best possible learning experiences.

About Duquesne University’s Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) Program

Duquesne University’s RN-BSN online program has been recognized among the best in the United States. The program can be tailored to fit each nurse’s background of experience, whether they have a nursing diploma or Associate Degree in Nursing.

Duquesne University has been educating nurses for more than 80 years and is an expert in online education. The university introduced the first BSN program in Pennsylvania in 1937 and created the nation’s first online nursing Ph.D. program in 1997.