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BSN Completion Barriers, Challenges, Incentives, and Strategies

Duffy, Marie T. DNP, RN, FNP-BC, NEA-BC; Friesen, Mary Ann PhD, RN, CPHQ; Speroni, Karen Gabel PhD, MHSA, BSN, RN; Swengros, Diane MSN, RN, BC; Shanks, Laura A. MSN, MHA, RN-BC, ACNS-BC; Waiter, Pamela A. RNC-OB; Sheridan, Michael J. ScD

JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration: April 2014 - Volume 44 - Issue 4 - p 232–236
doi: 10.1097/NNA.0000000000000054

OBJECTIVE: The objectives of this study were to explore RN perceptions regarding barriers/challenges and incentives/supports for BSN completion and identify recommendations to increase RN BSN completion.

BACKGROUND: The Institute of Medicine’s 2011 The Future of Nursing report recommended the proportion of RNs with a BSN increase to 80% by 2020.

METHOD: This qualitative study included 41 RNs who participated in 1 of 6 focus groups based on their BSN completion status.

RESULTS: Primary themes were sacrifices, barriers/challenges, incentives/supports, value, how to begin, and pressure. Primary BSN completion barriers/challenges were work-life balance and economic issues. Incentives/supports identified were financial compensation, assistance from employer and academic institution, and encouragement from family. Institutional strategies recommended for increasing BSN completion rates were improved access to education and financial support facilitated by collaboration between hospitals and academic institutions.

CONCLUSIONS: Exploring RN barriers/challenges and incentives/supports for BSN completion can lead to implementation of institutional strategies, such as tuition reimbursement and academic collaboration.

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Author Affiliations: Chief Nursing Officer/Associate Administrator (Dr Duffy) and Medical/Surgical Clinical Nurse Specialist (Ms Shanks), Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, Alexandria; Nursing Research Coordinator (Dr Friesen), Inova Systems Office; Research Scientist (Dr Speroni), Inova Loudoun Hospital, Leesburg; Research Scientist (Dr Speroni) and Direct Care Nurse (Ms Waiter), Inova Fair Oaks Hospital, Fairfax, Virginia; Education Coordinator (Ms Swengros), Inova Systems Office, Falls Church, Virginia; and Consulting Epidemiologist and Biostatistician (Dr Sheridan), Inova Health System, Chair, Institutional Review Board, Inova Health System, Falls Church, Virginia.

This research study has been supported in part by a grant from Epsilon Zeta Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau International–George Mason University.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr Friesen, Inova Systems Office, 8110 Gatehouse Road, Suite 200 West, Falls, Church, VA 22042 (

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