Department: Leadership Q&A
Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer, Lutheran Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Q Our BSN rates are suddenly going up. Is this a blip or a trend?
That's a very good question. Based on the multitude of data, articles, and stories about shifting enrollments, hiring practices, credentialing, and the future of nursing, I'm compelled to answer that it's a trend. Even this column has had several questions just over the past year related to BSN requirements and expectations.
We all know the Institute of Medicine's Future of Nursing report recommended that the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree increase to 80% by 2020. That's a tall order because we're starting out at 50%. However, in keeping with the understanding that this is a trend, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), we were only at 22% in 1980 and 37% in 2008.1 The AACN also reported that RN-to-BSN completion rates increased by 15.8%, the ninth year of consecutive increases.
In my state, New York, there's wide variation in BSN rates by region, ranging from 19% to 46%. Less than half of New York graduates are BSN grads, but the rate has been steadily increasing over the past 10 years. There's also proposed legislation in New York to require a BSN within 10 years of licensure.
New graduates with associate degrees are entering RN-to-BSN programs sooner to make themselves more marketable in the current tighter job market, as well as to meet some employer expectations that their degree be obtained within a certain time frame. Many organizations provide benefits to encourage BSN completion due to the overwhelming evidence of the improved outcomes. Magnet® hospitals typically have higher BSN rates, and organizations on the Magnet journey are setting annual goals for increases in BSN nurses. A BSN is often required for promotional opportunities, another motivator for RN-to-BSN students.
With all these factors and forces in play, I believe higher BSN rates are a trend and a very important part of the future of nursing.
Q Our CNO is the best, but I want to be a CNO, so I know I have to leave the organization. Any suggestions on how to begin the job search process?
I'm so happy to hear of an aspiring CNO and that the future of nursing leadership continues to be bright and meaningful. Our professional careers all take different paths, and it's fascinating to follow and mentor aspirants such as you.
You may not have to leave the organization until you've tapped out all the available growth experiences. Divisional leadership roles often provide the opportunity to lead hospital-wide initiatives, giving you much needed competencies for the CNO role. Present these improvement projects to hospital and board committees, as well as to external professional organizations. Doing so will go a long way in cultivating your wisdom, exposure, and confidence.
Now, for the job search. Networking at professional meetings and conferences, as well as active involvement, is important. The contacts and impressions you make will position you to be approached as jobs arise. You may or may not be up front about your aspirations externally, depending on the degree to which confidentiality is important to you.
Reaching out to either regional or national search firms is very helpful. As print ads for senior-level positions have diminished, the use of search firms has increased. These firms know their clients and will work with you to find a good match. Be open to all opportunities. You may also check for postings on professional organization websites such as the American Organization of Nurse Executives' Career Center. If you're willing to relocate, then you can expand your search exponentially.
Prepare yourself through in-depth, on-the-job experiences; be visible and active in the nursing leadership community; and network, network, network. A CNO position will come your way!© 2012 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.