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Value of a Baccalaureate-Degree in Nursing

Value of a Baccalaureate-Degree in Nursing

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Educational level has impacts on nurses’ competencies and their knowledge. Although The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) offers both the associate-degree level versus the baccalaureate-degree level, there exist discrepancies. Nurses with the associate-degree level have great competencies in critical thinking, health promotion, case management, leadership and they have various capabilities of dealing with different outpatient and inpatient settings. Besides the capabilities of the nurses with associate degree level, the nurses with baccalaureate-degree level have more capabilities on in-depth treatment for social sciences, public and community health and nursing management. The level of education causes the differences in the nurses level of practice, understanding of factors affecting patients and the manner in which these factors influences health care delivery.

The baccalaureate-degree level has been found to enhance the patients’ safety and as a result the quality of health care in the hospitals has improved. Researchers have found out that increase in nurses possessing the baccalaureate-degree level in the hospitals has lowered the mortality rates an indication of increased capabilities (Blegen, Goode, Park, Vaughn & Spetz, 2013, February). According to a research conducted in 2010 nurses achieving higher levels of education (baccalaureate prepared nurses) leads to an enhancement of health care system and it plays a critical role in meeting patients needs. Furthermore, In Claire Fagin’s in his work “When Care Becomes a Burden: Diminishing Access to Adequate Nursing,” recommended that nurses with baccalaureate-degree level be increased in hospital whereas those with the associate-degree level be taken for further studies to increase their level of education. These researches indicates that even though both groups of students from baccalaureate-degree level and associate-degree level take the same NCLEX-RN licensing examination, students who had take baccalaureate-degree have higher capabilities as compared to their fellows with associate-degree level.

Many organizations such as the military, the federal government, healthcare foundations and nursing organizations have also advocated for an increase in education to baccalaureate-degree level or higher to facilitate increased health care and reduced mortality rates in hospitals (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2013). Although the associate degree takes less time (three years) to complete and it is less costly as compared to baccalaureate-degree which takes four years to complete and it is usually more expensive as compared to that of associate degree. These factors have bring the significance of baccalaureate-degree program clearly since most nurses who take associate degree program rarely gets adequate time to pursue baccalaureate degree. This may be attributed to life constrains as well as work ties. The associate graduates may also take more time if they were to go back to school and continue with their baccalaureate degree would take them more time learning since they would take four to six years. Baccalaureate degree – level program is therefore vital for not only positive patients’ outcome but also because it is cheaper and requires less time (Kendall-Gallagher, Aiken, Sloane, & Cimiotti, 2011, January). Nurses who have underwent the baccalaureate education program are found to have more in-depth education and comprehensive skills in health centers as compared to those nurses with associate degree.

Initially, the major differences between BSN and ADN programs have been the duration within which the students of both the programs study. The students undertaking baccalaureate programs have been studying for at least four years whereas their colleagues undertaking associate degree programs have been studying for two to three years. In baccalaureate degree program, nursing students spend the first two years focusing on sciences and support courses. On the contrary, nursing students undertaking associate programs study nursing and science courses simultaneously (Kendall-Gallagher, Aiken, Sloane, & Cimiotti, 2011, January). Due to these differences in modes in which the courses are covered the students in baccalaureate degree programs are therefore seen to be more efficient in matters affecting the healthcare of nurses including making decision that affects patients’ health.

The environment in which the students in BSN and ADN programs study also affects their ability to deal with healthcare circumstances as well as in decision making. Baccalaureate degree programs are offered in institutions of higher learning such as universities as well as both large and small liberal arts colleges (Tri-Council for Nursing, 2010 May). Associate degree programs on the other hand are offered mostly in community college setting while some are offered in four-year colleges. The settings in which the courses are offered may also influence the manner in which the nurses deal with various situations that situations and how they handle problems.

Although both programs offer science courses, support courses, general educational program and nursing courses, the sequencing and the types of the courses have are offered differently in various educational institutions. These courses are intended not only to address the nursing issues but also to help nurses to apply their nursing knowledge in solving the patients’ problems. The differences in sequencing and types of courses offered in BSN and ADN therefore impacts the contents that are being offered significantly (Blegen, Goode, Park, Vaughn & Spetz, 2013, February). Most of the content that is offered in baccalaureate programs is based on health, illnesses, prevention and wellness. On the contrary associate nursing programs focuses on illnesses and prevention of illnesses. In the field, in healthcare centers, the decision making process of the two groups of nurses will therefore be different as the nurses who have undergone baccalaureates programs may be able to make more effective decisions as compared to their colleagues who has undertaken associate programs.

From the differences in the two nursing programs, baccalaureate program is advantageous than associate nursing program in that baccalaureate programs offers nursing research, community nursing and nursing management. Associate nursing however does not teach nursing research, community nursing and nursing management due to the lack of availability of adequate time to handle the entire programs. The effect is experienced in health care centers where the nurses with baccalaureate degree been perceived as being more capable that those with associate degrees both in decision making and in overall patients outcome. We can therefore safely conclude that there safety of patients and the overall health care is influenced by the level of education. The more educated the nurses are the more efficient is their output thus the higher the qualities of health care services offered to the patients.

References

American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2013). 2012-2013 Enrollment and graduations in baccalaureate and graduate programs in nursing. Washington, DC: Author. Blegen, M.A., Goode, C.J., Park, S.H., Vaughn, T. & Spetz, J. (2013, February). Baccalaureate education in nursing and patient outcomes. Journal of Nursing Administration, 43(2), 89- 94. Kendall-Gallagher, D., Aiken, L., Sloane, D.M. & Cimiotti, J.P. (2011, January). Nurse specialty certification, inpatient mortality, and failure to rescue. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 43(2), 188-194. Tri-Council for Nursing. (2010, May). Educational advancement of registered nurses: A consensus position. Available online at http://www.aacn.nche.edu/education- resources/TricouncilEdStatement.pdf.


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