1. Potera, Carol


Comments show this issue is far from settled among nurses.


Article Content

Today's nurses work in complex and changing health care systems that increasingly demand highly educated nurses. And nurses need a solid skill set to work in these settings in order to provide care for diverse types of patients and minimize health disparities. To meet these challenges, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has drafted a proposal saying, in part, that a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) should be the minimum requirement for licensure, and that eventually a master of science in nursing would be required (see Feedback on the draft will guide the AACN's nursing education task force in finalizing a position statement on a new vision for nursing education.


That feedback is starting to come in. The National League for Nursing (NLN) published a statement in June affirming its opposition to requiring a bachelor's or a master's degree in nursing for entry-level practice. More than 50% of new nurses hold two-year associate's degrees that give them a clinical foundation to become licensed and start to practice, said the NLN. The AACN's call for all nurses to earn four-year degrees could block job entry for future nurses and fuel the nursing shortage, since current four-year degree programs lack capacity to accept all qualified applicants.


Rather than limit entry points into the profession, the NLN advocates expansion to meet the nursing shortage. Moreover, two-year programs at community colleges "are front and center in attracting students of color and those who may be marginalized by economic disadvantage," NLN president G. Rumay Alexander said in a press release. "We applaud the role these fine associate degree programs play in increasing diversity in nursing and, thereby, increasing cultural sensitivity in health care delivery that positively impacts patient outcomes.


The NLN was among many groups and individuals who contributed comments for review, according to Robert Rosseter, the AACN's chief communications officer. "We remain committed to working with community colleges to support academic programs that move RNs to the BSN or higher degrees," Rosseter said.-Carol Potera