As nursing students, we recognize the importance of a well-rounded education. "A Failure to Rescue Ourselves," by Kathleen Bartholomew (Viewpoint, November 2010), powerfully describes the urgent need for consensus in making the baccalaureate the minimum entry point into nursing practice.
The Future of Nursing report from the Institute of Medicine calls for 80% of all nurses to have a bachelor's degree by 2020.1 The American Nurses Association made a similar recommendation in 1965, advising that the "minimum preparation for beginning professional nursing practice at the present time should be baccalaureate degree education in nursing."2
Why, after 45 years, is the level of education needed to enter the nursing profession still uncertain? Do nurses lack leadership and unification, or is there a general lack of confidence and encouragement of self-development? This is a missed opportunity to promote the importance of and need for nursing. Nurses can't be competent collaborators with physicians and other health care providers unless they demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills to do so.
Clear expectations for educational preparation in combination with opportunities for educational growth and an increased number of nurse residency programs will bring the deserved recognition and respect to our "workforce of 3 million strong."
1. Institute of Medicine. The future of nursing: focus on education. Washington, DC: National Academies 2010. Report brief; http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/The-Future-of-Nursing-Leading-Change-Advancing-Health/Report-Brief-Education.aspx
2. American Nurses Association, Committee on Nursing Education. American Nurses' Association's first position on education for nursing. Am J Nurs