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Can you explain why after 26 years of nursing and an excellent track record in the same hospital why I am now required to get a BSN to keep my job?

Friday April 25, 2014
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Question:

Dear Donna,

Can you please explain to me why after 26 years of nursing in the same hospital with an excellent track record I am now being required to get a BSN in order to keep me job? Doesn’t experience count for anything anymore? I think they’re just trying to push out the older nurses to make way for the young
new nurses.

Disgusted and Disillusioned

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Disgusted and Disillusioned,

Don’t take it personally. There is a national movement to have most RNs obtain BSN degrees. Even though it is still not required for entry to practice, a growing body of research has demonstrated that hospitals with a higher percentage of BSN nurses have better outcomes. The required education credentials of all other healthcare professionals is a master’s degree and beyond, including pharmacists, physical therapists, dieticians, etc. Nursing must keep up if it wants to stay on par and be recognized and compensated for the specialized services we provide.

Your belief that the older nurses are being pushed out is not supported by hiring trends. For starters, all new nurses are no longer young. The average age of the student nurse is about 33 years of age and many new nurses who come to the profession from other careers are in their 40s, 50s, 60s and even older. The majority of new nurses at any age are having great difficulty finding hospital work. Most hospitals are only hiring nurses with current hospital experience and a BSN.

Even though you’ve gotten by for this amount of time without a college degree, it is an important next step in order to stay relevant, marketable and confident in an increasingly complex healthcare environment, competitive job market and rapidly changing world. Read “Go back to school and change your life” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Back-to-School) where you’ll read about my experience reluctantly venturing back to school and the impact it had.

Times are changing. What worked for us in the past — individually and as a profession — will not work for us going forward. Each of us must elevate our credentials, our skill set beyond the clinical and even our ability to relate to the larger world around us. Higher education supports all of these goals. I always say go back to school for yourself first and your career second. The personal benefits, even if you don’t see them at first, far outweigh the professional benefits. But you do have to look forward. Everyone is living and working longer and each of us has to keep up. I recently was speaking to a nurse who went to a diploma school of nursing with me several decades ago. She never furthered her education and she now feels stuck. She’d like to leave her job but doesn’t have confidence that anyone else will hire her. She also is resisting returning to school.

There is scholarship money available for those who go after it so be sure to read “Master the scholarship game” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Scholarship-Game) so you can go after those funds to pursue your BSN.

Best wishes,
Donna


Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www. Nurse.com/Events.