• Advanced Education Critical to Nursing Success

     

    As the national healthcare system is restructured and innovations in patient care accelerate, professional development and continuing education for nurses is becoming increasingly important for clinicians interested in staying on the cutting edge of the nursing field. Such study provides opportunities to stay up-to-date on medical advances, new technologies and advanced practical theories. The rewards of continuing education for nurses also include potential increases in compensation and movement into high-demand specialties and management positions. More importantly, such training may soon be an outright prerequisite for nurses looking to advance their RN careers.continuing education for advancing nursing career

    “There are so many new positions that will enable nurses to go further, but they will need to increase their education,” confirmed Nadine Salmon, MSN, BSN, IBCLC, clinical content specialist for RN.com, an AMN Healthcare company and leading provider of continuing education courses approved by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). “Additionally, there is a move by the American Nurses Association (ANA) to increase the minimum education requirement for RNs to the baccalaureate level, which means many nurses need to think seriously about pursuing a BSN.”

    In addition to a solid foundation in nursing, baccalaureate training includes research, theory, community health and leadership content. The additional year of education also includes a wide range of general education courses, including multicultural studies, language, ethics, sociology, communication and women’s studies. The relevance of these topics is apparent in view of current demands on nurses in the healthcare setting.

    According to an Institute of Medicine report entitled The Future of Nursing (2011), nurses will fill expanded roles in a redesigned healthcare system in coming years, requiring higher training standards. The report encourages all nurses to advance their nursing career by achieving higher levels of education as it predicts that a BSN will be the minimum required to increase the scope of practice, and open the largest number of employment opportunities in both clinical and b-placement rates for new BSN graduates. According to AACN President Kathleen Potempa, preparing more highly-educated nurses has become a national priority for the organization, as the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and other leading authorities call for more extensively trained nurses. Potempa said she is “pleased to see robust interest in baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs.”

    The AACN cites recent research conducted by Dr. Linda Aiken and other nurse scientists as providing guiding principles in their quest to require higher levels of clinical education. Among other findings, Aiken has demonstrated a link between higher levels of RN education with improved patient outcomes and lower mortality rates. A BSN degree, she argues, “enhances one’s concept of the nursing profession and provides nurses with a broader range of experience, allowing them to better adapt to an ever-changing healthcare environment.”


    “Education is critical for nurses who want to take on roles with increased responsibility or in more specialized areas of care,” agreed Clark Crowell, MSM, vice president of education solutions for The College Network, based in Indianapolis. “If you want to stay on top of your practice and ensure quality patient care, both shorter-term educational opportunities, such as continuing education and certificate programs, and longer-term degree programs really position nurses to succeed in their career well into the future.”


    For practicing nurses, busy personal lives and full-time work schedules make it a challenge to find time advancing nursing careers with continued education for nurses. Fortunately, online opportunities abound, allowing nurses to focus on their academics while maintaining a full work-load. With RN.com, for example, nurses can gain access to more than 150 ANCC-approved continuing education courses for a small annual fee.

    The College Network also offers a variety of online educational options to further nurses’ education, including an RN to MSN bridge program that allows RNs to complete both a BSN and an MSN with less course work than completing them separately. “One of the things that makes The College Network unique is that when students start with their prerequisites and general education requirements, they can do them entirely at their own pace,” remarked Crowell. “This allows people a gentle transition back into academia and a gives them a chance to start figuring out how to add course work into their lives. They may start with just an hour a week, and then build up until they have the 8 to 10 hours a week they will need when they start their courses with one of our university partners.”

    More nurses are already advancing their knowledge base by seeking bachelor’s and graduate degrees, according to preliminary 2012 survey data released by the AACN. Preliminary data from the survey of 664 schools with baccalaureate and graduate programs showed a 3.5 percent enrollment increase in entry-level BSN programs, which follows a 5.1 percent increase in 2011. In a separate study, AACN has found that baccalaureate-nursing graduates were more than twice as likely to have jobs when they completed their studies than those entering the workforce in other fields.

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