Debate concerning the education standards necessary to enroll into the nursing practice in the United States (U.S.) has been going on for several decades now among all stakeholders in particular the nurses and the legislators.
Debate concerning the education standards necessary to enroll into the nursing practice in the United States (U.S.) has been going on for several decades now among all stakeholders in particular the nurses and the legislators. The idea to have at least two thirds of nurses work force pursues a baccalaureate degree as proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences has elicited both support and opposition by the concerned stake holders. The medical administrators argue that there are too few degree holders in nursing who can handle the complex health care system. Among the few a higher percentage prefers to pursue further studies that is masters and doctorate programs to enter into the more lucrative opportunities such as serving as nurse trainers (Shin Jung Shin& Kim 2006).
According to the American Nurses Association (ANA) the proposed legislation will not affect the current registered nurses (RNs). The law also seeks to maintain the existing educational system in which the students pursue professional qualification through associates degree and diploma programs. The program will only affect new entrants into the career seeking initial licensure in those states where the law has been enacted. The law will allow newly licensed RNs duration of 10 years following the initial licensure to attain their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Antagonists to the law have raised concerns that it could place a financial burden on the nurses as they strive to fulfill the BSN education requirement. The effect of the law has already been felt in the states of New Jersey and New York where nursing colleges have stopped absorbing students owing to inadequate faculties. There is also the unknown fate of the Associate Degree and diploma programs (Hill Lawson & Rhodes 2008).
Amendments in the nursing profession education curriculum in the United States have been carried out on several instances with an aim to advance the career. In the 1950s the government introduced the associate degree programs through which thousands of professional nurses have been trained. This program focused on preparing graduate nurses for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) which allows them to perform as recognized competent nurses across the United States.
Due to the fast changes in technology medical procedures complex treatment techniques and emerging chronic health conditions its been deemed paramount that nurses continue learning to be at per with the changes. Furthermore the field of nursing is undergoing through duration of major transformations with emerging issues of ethics and consumer expectations .This therefore calls for a renewed approach to overcome these challenges. The new approach proposed entailed starting a baccalaureate program in the nursing profession. Medical experts believe the Baccalaureate program provides a platform for additional detail and emphasis on nursing theory and reliance on research for analysis .The program also exposes the students to specialized practice models that were never part of the associate degree program (Wolf & Hoerst 2007). These specializations enable one to gain more knowledge and skills on particular field segments such as public health clinical medicine and home care among others. The program creates a strong foundation in analytical skills liberal arts and critical thinking skills that play an important role in the nursing profession to enable one offer competent care. Curriculum developers have incorporated into the program lessons on leadership skills that will equip the nurses with knowledge to monitor and supervise licensed practical nurses and other subordinate personell.The baccalaureate program is also set to address challenges that have resulted due to errors commonly committed by those who have undergone lower cadre course work. The program will also prepare registered nurses (RNs) to gain up to date skills to overcome emerging challenges (Viterito 2006).
The proposed law would apply to the future graduates of both diploma and associate degree programs. The currently licensed registered nurses as well as current students pursuing diploma and associate degree programs will not be affected by the enactment of the law; thus they will not be required to acquire the baccalaureate level of qualification. To cater for those nurses who will be affected by this change of qualification criteria duration of ten years is given to allow as much time as possible for one to acquire the BSN. On request from the particular states nursing regulatory bodies a maximum of two years extension is allowed. The program will also be available on a distance learning model to increase accessibility and allow for flexibility for all nurses in particular those who have busy working schedules or any other commitments. To ease the entry of more nurses into this program all colleges offering the BSN program have modified their cut point entry requirements by accepting both associate degree and diploma level RNs credits without necessarily the requirement for validating exams. Further efforts in ensuring wider accessibility of this program to all nurses who may need it include the on-line mode of teaching and work site models that avail learning materials directly at the nurses facilities. All these models have been adopted to ensure a wider choice for different student requirements to ensure that the initiative will succeed without disadvantaging any of the new future graduates (Ouzts Brown & Swearingen 2006).