1. Section Editor(s): Palatnik, AnneMarie MSN, APN, ACNS-BC

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Schools of nursing continue to turn away qualified nursing applicants because of lack of faculty, classroom space, and clinical placement sites. Nurses, on the other hand, report financial concerns, competing priorities, and a perceived lack of value in a higher degree as reasons for not seeking a BSN. Yet The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report, released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2010, recommends that the number of BSN-prepared nurses should increase to 80% by 2020. The report states that education increases competencies in leadership, evidence-based practice, health policy, collaboration, systems thinking, and potentially improved patient outcomes.

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So how far have we come toward reaching the goal set in 2010? In 2015, the IOM released a progress report on the implementation of the original recommendations, Assessing Progress on the Institute of Medicine Report: The Future of Nursing. This report states that a 17% increase in enrollment was seen in pre-licensure BSN programs from 2010 to 2014. An increase was also seen in enrollment in RN-to-BSN programs by 69% from 2010 to 2014. Overall, BSN-prepared nurses increased from 49% of the workforce in 2010 to 51% of the workforce in 2014.


Even with this significant increase in RN-to-BSN enrollment, we still have quite a way to go to get to the goal of 80% by 2020. To achieve this aggressive goal, we have to be innovative in our approach to removing barriers to academic progression. This will require a true collaboration between service and academia. As nurses, we have the potential to have the greatest impact on meeting the demands of the changing healthcare landscape. To do that, each of us is responsible for our own growth and development as well as the development of our profession as a whole. We will not be able to drive our profession forward if we cannot figure out how to get closer to that 80% goal. If you do not have a BSN degree, ask yourself why and what you need to do to get enrolled in school. If you have a BSN degree, encourage and support your peers who do not. Our patients and our profession deserve us to all to step up.


The BSN recommendation is just one of several recommendations in the action-oriented Future of Nursing reports, which provide nurses with blueprints to drive their futures. This is significant because with more than 3 million in our profession, we make up the largest portion of the healthcare workforce with the greatest potential impact.


AnneMarie Palatnik, MSN, APN, ACNS-BC

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Committee for Assessing Progress on Implementing the Recommendations of the Institute of Medicine Report. 2015.


Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing, at the Institute of Medicine. 2015.


The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. 2010.