1. Freda, Margaret Comerford EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN, EDITOR

Article Content

I 've been the editor of MCN for over 6 years now, and one of the consistent themes in my editorials has been the future of nursing. I've written about evidence-based practice, the use of technology, the importance of questioning why we do what we do every day, nursing education, continuing education, advocacy for our profession, encouraging young people to enter nursing, the public image of nursing, the work environment of nurses, nursing research (which has demonstrated the value of nursing to patient outcomes), the nursing shortage, mentoring, ethical nursing practice, and many other nursing topics. Today I want to tell you about a major step forward taken by my own state (New York) regarding nursing education and licensure.


This has always been a "hot button" topic for me, and for many others. I've written about it frequently. My position is, and always has been, that nursing licensure should require a bachelor's degree. I don't shy away from discussing this issue. If you've read my previous editorials you know this doesn't mean I think associate degree graduates aren't worthy. My position has to do with the status of nursing as a profession now and in the future. I've written this before-nursing cannot continue to be the only health profession that does not require the bachelor's degree as its minimum standard. The future of our profession and its ability to stand toe to toe with all the other health professions is at stake. I have stated my suggestion that there should be a date by which the ANA would declare that all nursing licensure would require a bachelor's degree, with all current nurses grandfathered in. ANA has never done this, but it was responsible for moving nursing education out of the proprietary domain of hospitals for education and into the college and university setting; that was a huge step forward for our profession. However, it is time to take another bold step, for we remain mired in the quagmire of offering the same licensing examination for two entirely different levels of education. Someone has to bite the bullet and take a stand if this quandary is ever to be solved. If we mandated a bachelor's degree before licensing, students who enrolled in associate degree programs would use that education as their first 2 years of schooling toward their bachelor's program in order to become RNs. However, no one seems to be willing to do what it takes to move our profession in this direction.


The New York State Board for Nursing has now proposed an alternative solution to our educational problem. It's not the solution I have advocated, but I support it as an appropriate first step.


The New York State Board for Nursing, however, has now proposed an alternative solution to our educational problem. It's not the solution I have advocated, but I support it as an appropriate first step. Its proposal is that all RNs in New York be required to obtain a bachelors degree within 10 years of beginning their practice. This proposal is modeled after a similar program in New York for teachers, who must obtain a masters degree within a certain number of years in order for their teacher certificate to become permanent. Note, however, the difference here-teachers must already have a bachelors degree for their license, while nurses, the people who are put in charge of people's lives and health, are not even required to have the minimal bachelors degree!!


One of my daughters is a former teacher, and many of my friends are teachers. I've always been impressed by the dictates of their profession for additional education, and while I would prefer that the changes in nursing education begin with a bachelor's degree, I am quite willing to endorse New York's efforts to at least require a bachelor's degree in nursing by the tenth year of nursing practice. It's a beginning. Is it the best solution? No. It is, however, a step forward. Let's keep moving.