Higher Nurse Education Levels Tied to Better Patient Outcomes

When it comes to patient care in the 21st century, best practices call for continuing education and advanced skill sets among nurses. Online RN to BSN programs allow nurses to achieve measurable goals in their careers while deepening their understanding of nursing best practices and technologies.

Several studies show direct links between higher education and the ability of nurses to improve patient outcomes. A 2014 study published in Medical Care showed that increasing the population of BSN-prepared nurses by 10 percent led to a 10.9 percent decrease in the incidence of patient mortality. Studies examined the impact of nursing education on hospital systems as well as on individual patients. One recent study found that patients whose nurses held bachelor’s degrees had shorter hospital stays and incurred lower healthcare costs.

Expanded education for nurses can help lower mortality rates, reduce prescription and dosage errors, and lead to more comprehensive patient care practices. Two different surveys from 2013 show that more than 50 percent of the nursing workforce in the U.S. already holds bachelor’s degrees or higher, which helps ensure higher-quality patient care and more positive patient experiences. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), in its 2010 report “The Future of Nursing,” called for the number of BSN-prepared nurses in the workforce to increase to 80 percent by the year 2020.

Online RN to BSN programs offer flexibility and increased access to education for working nurses. These programs will help meet the IOM’s goal and address concerns about the aging workforce; as many as one million nurses and more than half the current nursing faculty in the U.S. are expected to retire in the next 10 years. In addition, as the healthcare model changes from hospital or provider focused care to patient and community focused care, RNs will need to build upon their current skills through broad-based educational opportunities found in bachelor's degree programs.

In addition to building on the coursework taught in associate degree and diploma programs, bachelor’s degree programs provide education on public and community health, nursing management and nursing research. As healthcare policy and procedure moves further into the digital sphere, nurses will have to work more frequently with technology as well as more complex treatments. BSN programs prepare nurses to think critically, handle rapid change and communicate more effectively with physicians, patients and other members of the healthcare team.

Professional nursing associations encourage nurses to earn their BSN degrees and become part of those associations. The American Nurses Association, for example, has called for nurses who earn an associate degree to earn a BSN within 10 years of their initial licensing. Online RN to BSN programs, such as the one from California State University San Marcos, allow working RNs to pursue a degree through an accredited program while maintaining an active role in the nursing profession.

Learn more about the CSUSM online RN to BSN program.









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