Because healthcare is evolving and at a fast rate, there is a greater demand a workforce with higher education and a more advanced skillset. Patients and professional nursing organizations are insisting that nurses need to be more equipped to deal with these changes. Based on this situation, many nurses, including myself, are more motivated to pursue a bachelor’s degree to stay competitive and proficient in the workforce. In this paper I will try to explain some of the factors influencing my pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, highlight new opportunities that will potentially become available after completing my degree, discuss how the role of a nurse with a bachelor’s degree is different than the role of an associate nurse, and highlight some of my professional short and long-term goals. There will also be a discussion of the challenges I currently face to pursue these goals, as well as an examination of Benner’s Model of socialization, and were I fall within the model.
Nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) are not only more prepared to deal with the current demands and trends of healthcare, but are more valued by professional organizations. They offer the distinct benefits of being more prepared for leadership positions, critical thinking situations, better problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to practice in a wider variety of healthcare settings. This is because the BSN nursing program promotes professional development by offering the nurse a unique prospective of the cultural, economic, political, and social factors affecting patients, as well as the healthcare setting. Several studies such as “Effect of Hospital Care Environment on Patient Mortality and Nurse Outcomes” conducted by (Aiken Linda,2008) found a strong connection between a RN educational level and patient outcomes. The study noted that as the proportion of BSN registered nurses increased in hospitals, patient deaths decreased. Additionally, organizations such the America Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) as noted by (Rosseter,2014) encourages employers to create an atmosphere that embrace lifelong learning and offer incentives for registered nurses seeking to advance to a BSN program. Additionally, I am considering joining the Airforce Reserves when I complete my BSN and start to work toward my FNP, which would require a BSN to practice (Rosseter,2014). These are some of my motivating factors as well as the desire to be the best nurse for my patients that I can.
Other fascinating factors are that BSN nurses can be employed in other rolls such as a Case Manager and Nurse Educator. Nurse Educators can lead patient care activities by ensuring that nurses deliver care that are in line with the organization established policies and procedures (Bryan C and Dracup, K 2008). A Nurse Educator can also provide an opportunity to affect changes that are implemented by an organization. Staff nurses such as myself that do not possess a BSN are no longer promoted to higher positions of leadership. Years of experience are no longer the only prerequisite for leadership positions such as that of a nurse clinician or case manager. Associate degrees nurses are also no longer promoted or employed as nurse educator despite years of experience. In fact, positions such as public health nurse cannot be held by non-BSN nurses ( Rosetter, 2014). I applied for the nurse educator position in my ER unit and made it through the interview process all the way to the CNO, he stated that he wanted to offer me the position but couldn’t because I didn’t yet have my BSN.
Magnet hospitals across the country requires that all nurse leaders and mangers hold a BSN. (Rosetter, 2014) These hospitals are viewed as the standard for nursing excellence and better patient outcomes. Therefore, having a BSN would have allowed me to complete one of short term goals of being promoted to case manager or educator within my current organization. Additionally, state nursing associations such as those in New Jersey and New York now require a BSN for all registered nurses within ten years of graduating from an associate program. (Rosetter,2014) Furthermore, many states are considering similar proposals. Hence, pursuing a BSN ensures job security as well as enables me to travel and work in other states. It will offer a greater sense of job fulfillment, expand my knowledge, and allow me to be more prepared to deal with today’s compound healthcare environment.
My current role in my nursing profession is more in line with Benner’s theory of socialization which highlights the various stages nurses go through in a clinical setting. According to Benner, there are five stages namely: novice, advance beginner, competent, proficient and expert (Bryan C and Dracup, K 2008). Benner stated that the novice nurse is one that focuses on rules and taught procedures and has no nursing life experience on which to draw. The advance beginner is more marginal competent and have to gain some experience in actual nursing situations, whereas the competent nurse will find they can prioritize and begin to use past experiences to form their care (Bryan C and Dracup, K 2008). The proficient practitioner according to Benner has a strong sense of their patients’ needs and can prioritize those needs and are capable of predicting some outcomes (Bryan C and Dracup, K (2008). Finally, the expert practitioner is identified as being confident, flexible with an extensive knowledge base and an intuitive grasp of complex clinical situations. (Bryan C and Dracup K 2008).
Being a newer ER nurse but still placed as a charge nurse with only 1 year of ER experience, I find myself transitioning back to the stage Benner dubbed advance beginner. This is because the ER is a very chaotic setting which demands a mastery of many sets of skills. However, having some nursing life experience allows me to use the nursing process to formulate and recognized meaningful components in the care of the ER patients.
As mentioned earlier, one of my professional short-term goals is to become a nurse educator. The role of nurse educator will enable me to be play a pivotal role in the orientation and hospital based education of new nurses as well as new hires. It will also allow me to be more involved in making recommendations for patient’s treatment and education. Another short term goal that can be achieved because of completing my BSN is that it will allow me to join the U.S. Air Force as a flight nurse.
As it relates to my long-term goals, the main reason for getting my BSN is pursuing a career as a Nurse Practitioner. Another long-term goal is become an active member of professional nursing organizations such as American Nurse Association attending seminars and conferences.
My path towards achieving my goals have been extremely challenging. For example, it took me five months to complete my enrollment in RN to BSN program at South University. I had to provide additional paper work because my education background was from a different state. Also, my application for financial aid also required more documents than usual. I also have a very demanding work schedule. Furthermore, I am a father of 5 children, the youngest being 3 months old. I recently switched to night shift so my wife and I don’t have to pay for daycare. My wife works a full time day job as well. I work at night, take care of kids during the day, and have to find time to sleep and complete homework wherever I can. I will be a difficult path but well worth it in the end
With help of my family and the encouragement of co-workers, I was able to build up the courage to pursue a BSN. Therefore, there was nothing preventing me from moving to the next stage in my career and professional development. Additionally, my academic advisor was very helpful in helping me to complete all the necessary steps required to starting on my goal to pursue a BSN.
In conclusion, the goal to complete a BSN is driven by the desire to stay competitive, achieve job satisfaction, and meet the demands of a more complex healthcare system. It will also enable me to achieve both my short and long-term goals.
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