Should the Entry Into Nursing Practice Be the Baccalaureate

Should the Entry Into Nursing Practice Be the Baccalaureate

Should the Entry Into Nursing Practice Be the Baccalaureate Degree? DAVID L TAYLOR I I I , RN, MSN, CNOR, MAJ, AN, USA OPINION T he health care industry is changing rapidly. Because of advances in medicine, technology, and lifesaving techniques, patients now have a better chance of surviving traumatic injury, life-threatening disease processes, and delicate surgical procedures than ever before.

As a result, patients are living longer than ever expected, and health care providers need the ability to think critically and provide health care services at levels never before imagined. Nursing is no exception. To ensure that the nursing profession does not fall behind during these rapid changes, nurses must look at the level from which they practice. To meet the increasing complexity of patient needs, the nursing profession must increase nurses’ educational requirements by requiring the baccalaureate degree as the entry into practice.

In 1965, the American Nurses Association (ANA) took a bold stance by publishing a position paper calling for a baccalaureate degree to be the minimum level of education for entry into practice.’ By taking this initiative, the ANA was attempting to move nursing education away from the hospital based, diploma programs of the day into colleges and universities, thus changing the education of nurses from an apprenticeship to a science-based practice. Why, then, more than 40 years later, are nurses still debating this issue?

BACKGROUND OF THE ISSUE dents were educated. Second, the development and proliferation of community colleges and two-year nursing degree programs stalled the requirement for a baccalaureate degree. Finally, nurses’ inability to see themselves as more than just caregivers has been a continuing stumbling block. GOVERNMENT FUNDING. TO Many good intentions went into the development of the 1965 position paper; however, three main factors worked against the ANA’s position being fully realized.

First, government funding influenced how and where student- examine the effect of government funding, one the American must look back to 1943 when the Bolton Act Nurses Association funded the costs for nursing school and provided published its nursing students with a stipend for living exposition on entry es.^ Although it is not clearly established in the into practice, nurses literature, the funding for this act may have been a are still debating direct result of a shortage of nurses after World War the issue. II, when in spite of previous predictions, not all nurses who had been in military or civilian practice remained in practice afterward.^ Between 1943 and 1948, graduation rates increased significantly.

When the funding source ended in 1948, however, the number of graduating nurses fell significantly. The nursing shortage continued to grow, affected by a decreasing supply and an ever-increasing demand.^ Without available funding, few nursing students were likely to seek more education than was necessary to practice in the field. TWO-YEAR DEGREE PROGRAMS. In 1945, a Forty years after meeting was held between the US Office of Education and the American ?AORN, Inc, 2008 MARCH 2008, VOL 87, NO 3 AORN JOURNAL 6 1 1 MARCH 2008, VOL 87, NO 3 Opinion position paper was published, and it is apparent that more should have been done to guide Nurses are the least educated among those seeking a career in nursing.



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