As more than 3 million registered nurses are currently employed in the US, they all hold varying degrees and licenses certifying their ability to work. In New York, the recently passed “BSN in 10” law made it necessary for nurses to get a degree specifically in nursing. While it might not seem feasible for it to pass in your state, it’s certainly possible.
Here are five hurdles to consider before other states follow suit.
1. It Will Take Time
It took decades for the concept to take hold in NY. Between balancing out the needs of the nurses union and finding a path that could fit the most nurses, it might take some time in whatever state you’re in.
Starting in 1964, the American Nurses Association started putting into motion the concept for requiring a BSN. They voted to support baccalaureate education but weren’t able to move much further for a long time.
After a position paper was introduced by the ANA, they began calling for the use of a BSN as a foundation for registered nurses. It took another 25 years for them to confirm their position on it.
Then, several years later, the New York State Assembly passed a bill. Then shortly after that, the State Senate voted on behalf of the bill and created a law. The governor signed it in December 2017.
This process, taking more than 50 years, could take much longer in another state. However, with the precedent set, it just as well could happen quickly in the future.
2. You Won’t Find a Similar Law
Before this law became standard in New York, there was only one other similar law on the books. While it’s since been overturned, North Dakota had a law that required nurses to get their BSN in order to be licensed.
In 2003, North Dakota had to take a second look at the bill because they were facing a shortage of nurses. Without enough RNs to go around, they had to expand the requirements and allow people with other certifications to become nurses.
New Jersey and Rhode Island but forth requirements for the BSN several times. They have been reviewed and there have been hearings on them for years, but there hasn’t been any kind of action like there has in New York.
These bills continue to be discussed in committees but haven’t come close to being a law yet.
3. Nursing Shortages are Serious
As baby boomers age and the need for nurses of all types increases, there will be challenges to passing a similar BSN law. The need for a large number of nurses currently outstrips the ability for nurses to be trained properly in time. In order to see if a similar law could be enacted in your state, studies would have to be done to measure how heavy the need is.
Any law that would lead to shortages in staffing would also be challenging for nursing unions to support. Their goal is to provide good working conditions for their members and shortages will lead to stressful work environments.In some states, RNs could be grandfathered into the system without having to obtain new certifications. Currently licensed RNs could be able to maintain their certification or be granted a BSN. In New York State, if someone is currently enrolled in a nursing degree program, they would also be granted a BSN.
These regulations make it easier for current nurses to maintain their practice and for workers to stay employed.
4. There Should Be Assistance
The Institute of Medicine recommended that more RNs obtain a BSN. The number they floated was 80% of the current RN population. While there is no legal recourse for a recommendation like this, their authority should be taken seriously.
Nurse leaders can play a role in helping their staff obtain the certifications they need. Running on-site courses could be an option for larger medical institutions, especially those that already have a teaching facility attached.
Articulation programs and bridge courses are available around the country and nurse leaders should be informed of how they work. By being an advisor to their staff, they can help the entire facility meet the regulations set forth by the BSN.
If you’re running a facility or your union is considering supporting a bill like this, work with administrators to run an assessment of your facility. Figuring out how much it would cost and whether or not your staff would be up to the task is essential to measuring your support.
If you’re not providing childcare right now, that could make a big difference in whether or not your staff could meet those regulations. Providing childcare to support staff who are taking courses will allow your nurses to get the certifications they need to keep in step with changing laws.
5. Extensions are Necessary
Every single nurse has their own reasons for why they can or can’t meet the needs of a BSN in 10 law. If your nurses have their own family or personal limitations, they need laws to contain accommodations that can be helpful to them.
Current laws include granting extensions for extenuating circumstances. If a nurse struggles to pay tuition or were unable to finish their course in 10 years, they should be allowed an extension. In the absence of a program that would grandfather them in, nurses need to have some flexibility in the way that this kind of program is rolled out.
The BSN in 10 Law Could Improve Medicine
Passing a BSN in 10 law could be a powerful change in patient care but a challenge for nurses who are currently employed. Patient care advocates are in favor of it but it needs to ensure that we don’t plunge into a nursing shortage. As more people need more care, passing this kind of law requires a delicate touch, which makes it a perfect job for a nurse.
If you’re not currently aware of the education needed to become an RN, check out our guide for more info.