1. Warshawsky, Nora E. PhD, RN
  2. Wiggins, Amanda T. PhD
  3. Lake, Sharon W. PhD, RN
  4. Velasquez, Cathy DNP, RN, CPHM


OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to understand current education level of hospital nurses and strategies used by Kentucky's chief nurse executives (CNEs) to encourage academic progression in their RN workforce.


BACKGROUND: The Institute of Medicine and American Nurses Credentialing Center called for 80% of RNs to be educated with a minimum of a BSN. CNEs have a key role in achieving that goal.


METHODS: An electronic survey was administered in fall 2013. Fifty-two Kentucky CNEs responded.


RESULTS: No hospitals in Kentucky met the BSN target. Sixty-two percent of CNEs planned to achieve 80% BSN nurses by 2020. Teaching status, hiring preferences, goals for increasing percentage of BSN nurses, and processes to facilitate advancement of nurses prepared at the associate degree level were associated with pursuit or achievement of Pathway to Excellence(R) or Magnet(R) designation. In addition to policies to support increasing educational levels, incentives offered included tuition reimbursement, career advancement, time off, and academic partnerships.


CONCLUSION: Increasing the proportion of BSN-prepared nurses should be a priority for CNEs. Strategies to facilitate that goal are explored. From these data, a large number of CNEs (38%) do not have a goal to achieve the recommended levels of BSN nurses. Further education and support in the rural hospitals in Kentucky are indicated to support this recommendation.