Nursing has come a long way from the early days where there were not much focus put on a nurses education. We started off with the ability to earn our education in 4 year universities but the demand for nurses grew so much that the development of a two year degree developed ("Timeline of nursing," 2011). Today there is an increase demand for nurses who hold their Baccalaureate level degree vs. an Associate’s degree. According to the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), nursing is the nation's largest health care profession with more than 3 million registered nurses (RNs) nationwide. Of all licensed RNs, 2. 6 million or 84. 8% are employed in nursing. The sample survey also shows that 50. 0% of the RN workforce holds a baccalaureate or graduate degree while 36. 1% earned an associate degree and 13. 9% a diploma in nursing” ("American association of," 2012).
Even though both levels of nurses are tested the same and need to meet the same basic requirements nurses with a Baccalaureate level degree are becoming more in demand because of the fact that their education is more extensive than that of the Associate level nurse. An Associate degree nurse graduates with an ability to demonstrate an adequate level of clinical nursing competency (Creasia & Friberg, 2011) pg. 15. Nurses at a Baccalaureate level receive more than just the basic requirements needed to perform their job.
They are in school longer, typically four to five years vs. the two years of an Associate level nurse. Both graduate with the ability to pass state nursing licensure examinations. These test are meant to test for the knowledge you need to care for patient’s they do not reflect the difference in education between a Associate level nurse ant that of a nurse that has more education like that of a Baccalaureate. This higher level of education improves not only the patient’s Comfort level, but their peers comfort level as well.
People seem to look at them differently because of their higher level of education. They have an increased sense of insurance that they are getting good care even though the care is the same. There has been quite a bit of research done regarding the difference in the education between both. Multiple researchers have proven that there is a higher mortality rate with the lower levels of nursing such as an Associates and less with higher education levels such as Baccalaureate (Rosseter, 2012). Research has shown that lower mortality rates, fewer medication errors, and positive outcomes are all linked to nurses prepared at the baccalaureate and graduate degree levels “("American association of," 2012). With a Baccalaureate level degree a nurse is educated on a higher level, these nurses graduate prepared to step directly into leadership positions. They have more education in areas like physical and social sciences. They learn more in public and community health making them more able to handle the critical situations every nurse faces (Rosseter, 2012).
A patient care situation that may be a good example is a case in which an elderly patient was admitted because they are having more difficultly ambulating and are becoming more confused than normal. An Associate level nurse may just be focusing on the physical care what is going on with the patient now do they have an infection causing them to be more confused? There are so many other things you need to be thinking about in regards to the patient other than the physical. The initial chief complaint is important, but so is the patient’s follow up care.
At a Baccalaureate level, the nurse may start looking beyond the patient’s hospitalization for example, if they can care for themselves anymore, or do they need help, are some questions the Baccalaureate level RN may ask. Part of getting an idea of whether or not they can function at home may involve consulting with the doctor to get a physical therapy order to evaluate the patient to see what they are able to do. They serve as an advocate for the patient by assuring the patient has what they need beyond hospitalization thus focusing on the whole picture.
Looking beyond the evident complaint that brought the patient in, helps allow you to provide total care for them. Going back to the elderly patient that has been getting progressively worse; you may want to explore other options for them at discharges such as Assisted Living, or skilled nursing facility for either temporary assistance or permanent placement doing this insures their safety. The associate nurse receives just enough education to take care of the patient. They are not educated to the degree that a Baccalaureate level degree nurse is.
Nurses with their Baccalaureate level degrees gain training that goes deeper into all aspects or nursing including those that are not addressed at the Associate level education that prepares them for leadership roles (Creasia & Friberg, 2011) pg. 25. Making their care of the patient more in depth and well rounded. Perhaps this is why they are in such demand. Positions that used to accept nurses at the associate level now want more for their patients, they are looking for the knowledge that only comes from a higher education.