May 18, 2010 | | Comments 2
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In the city, some registered nurses may not make the cut

As many healthcare organizations battle the nursing shortage that is only expected to worsen as baby boomers retire and the need for healthcare grows, new nurses entering the field in cities may be greeted with this: An associate degree in nursing is not good enough.

For many new nurses, this may come as a bit of a shock. One Philadelphia nurse received this answer when applying for jobs this spring as he was turned away because organizations were only looking for nurses with a nursing degree or bachelor of science in nursing, and not an associate degree. Even though this nurse was an RN, the organization was not satisfied with his degree because anyone can obtain this degree from a community college.

Those looking to become a nurse have three different options. They can go to school for four years and get a nursing degree or bachelor of science in nursing. Option two: They can get associate’s degrees and only go to school for two to three years, while option three has the individual going to a diploma school for about three years. All three require would-be RNs to pass a licensing exam that tests basic skills; starting pay is about the same.

In Pennsylvania, there are many diploma schools, despite the fact that many hospitals only accept nurses with bachelor degrees. For instance, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania has enforced this policy since 2004 while many other PA hospital systems—Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Albert Einstein Medical Center—are following suit and prefer students with bachelor degrees.

Pennsylvania is not alone; New York and New Jersey have passed legislation requiring nurses to get bachelor’s degrees within 10 years of licensing.

Many of the organizations believe that requiring nurses to have a bachelor’s degree or higher is beneficial in the end. Nurses are working with increasingly complex machines and patients, hospitals are moving toward evidence-based medicine, and this sort of thinking may not be emphasized in the more technically oriented associate-degree programs.

For many nurses, working toward getting an associate degree is an inexpensive and faster way to getting into the profession. Although some facilities will only take those with bachelor’s degrees or higher, many healthcare organizations still consider all nurses for job positions.

For instance, if a new RN is applying to organizations located in the city, he or she can try applying to more rural hospitals or positions outside of hospitals. One facility, Hahnemann University Hospitals in PA, looks for the right attitude and thinking skills in a potential new hire, and not particular degrees.


Does your facility hire new nurses based on degrees? Is this a fair way to go about hiring people? If a staff member does not have a bachelor degree, are there other methods of training you offer to them?

Source: Philadelphia Business Today


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Sarah Kearns About the Author: Sarah is an Editorial Assistant in the patient safety group at HCPro, Inc. She contributes to two monthly newsletters; Briefings on the Joint Commission and Briefings on Patient Safety, and manages four e-zines; Accreditation Connection, AHAP Staff Challenge, Nurse Manager Weekly, and Healthcare Training Weekly. She also helps research new products for the patient safety and nursing market. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2008 where she earned her bachelor's degree in English.

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  1. Turning away any good nurse is a huge mistake. HUGE mistake.

  2. Despite where you go to school the RN licensure exam is the same. If you are able to pass the test despite where you went to school, you have earned the license. During this nursing shortage turning good nurses away based on the number of years of school is crazy. You do not have to have a BSN or higher to learn evidence based medicine or stay up with technology.

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