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  1. Warshawsky, Nora E. PhD, RN, CNE
  2. Brandford, Arica JD, MSN, RN
  3. Barnum, Nancy PhD, RN, CNE
  4. Westneat, Susan MA


OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to understand the educational status and plans of Kentucky's RN workforce in advancing nursing educational levels.


BACKGROUND: The Institute of Medicine called for 80% of nurses to hold a minimum of a BSN by 2020. Nurse leaders from practice, academe, and the community need evidence to guide the development of effective strategies.


METHODS: An electronic survey was administered to Kentucky's RNs. This descriptive analysis was based on 1363 usable responses.


RESULTS: Only 40% of Kentucky's RNs held at least a BSN. Another 17% were enrolled in a nursing degree program; half of those enrolled were pursuing a BSN. Of those not enrolled in a degree program, 61.5% reported no plans to return to school. The top barriers were lack of perceived benefit, financial concerns, family obligations, and planned retirement. The top motivating factor was career advancement.


CONCLUSION: The gap between the current reality and the goal is wide. Nurse leaders will need to develop creative strategies that strengthen motivating factors and reduce barriers to accelerate movement toward increasing BSN rates.