You are a good nurse and yet you are in looking at going back to school in search of a baccalaureate degree – why? Some graduate nurses might say that advanced education will make you a better nurse. They would say that after completing a BS (Bachelors of Science) in nursing you have been exposed to a wide range of nursing principles including those found in community nursing and forward thinking leadership. These nurses believe that with a BS, you can view patient care from a different perspective and maybe “have a better handle on the patient’s needs” (Cullen & Asselin, 2009).
Graduate nurses may also say that they were surprised how integrating nursing theories and evidence-based practice into their nursing care sharpened their critical thinking. This led them to apply new ways of completing their patient-care activities and new ways of thinking about their patient’s condition. These nurses believe that they have a renewed enthusiasm for their profession (Cullen & Asselin, 2009).
Still, some nurses are worried about employment. Many hospitals around the country have started to require that their nurses have at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Further, even more hospitals prefer to hire nurses with a bachelor’s degree. These hospitals cite studies linking better-educated nurses to better patient care (Perez-Pena, 2012). Additionally, lawmakers in several states have introduced bills that would require at least some hospital staff nurses to have bachelor’s degrees within the next 10 years (Perez-Pena, 2012).
Whatever the motivation, returning to school will have both challenges and rewards. You will be challenged with time. Is there enough time in a day to go to school, work, and raise a family? If this is your concern, you might want to think about the flexibility of distance education where you will learn about effective time management. Then of course cost is a concern. Fortunately, many programs have tuition assistance and financial aid. Lastly, in most programs including Westminster, you will be using the latest technology, which can be very frightening for nurses who feel themselves technology “uninformed.” Undeniably, you will want a program where you learn about the technology prior to starting your course work. Additionally, you will want resources available to you 24/7 to provide ongoing support specific to technology.
Then there are the rewards. You will have the confidence in knowing that you are preparing for your future within your professional practice. You will expand and build on the leadership skills you already possess to include an understanding of patient care delivery models. You will have the knowledge base to develop your professional role. Finally, you will find that you will have an impact on the profession of nursing and play a vital role in its future.
As the Director of the RN to BS in Nursing Program, I applaud your decision to return to school. I have spent the last several months developing the program at Westminster College and am excited about the curriculum and delivery model. I encourage you to visit our website and apply to our program.
Juanita Takeno, DNP, MSN, RN
Cullen, S, & Assellin, M. (2009). Why go back for a baccalaureate degree? American Nurse Today (4)5.
Perez-Pena, R. (2012). More stringent requirements send nurses back to school. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/24/education/changing-requirements-send-nurses-back-to-school.html?pagewanted=all