The clock is ticking on the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) goal to have 80% of the nursing workforce BSN-prepared by 2020. And the nursing profession is responding, according to Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior adviser for nursing and director of the Campaign for Action at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“Data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing shows us there are many nurses who are returning to school for higher education,” she told Nurse.com late last year, “and there are many institutions and communities and some states who have or will reach the 80/20 goal.”
Hospitals are reportedly using a variety of means to raise the BSN-rate among their nursing workforce. From tuition assistance to timelines, the programs are varied in their approach but share a common objective: getting BSNs degrees into the hands of their nursing professionals.
If you want to get something done, you need to schedule it. Consequently, hospitals are using timelines to set BSN-by dates for new hires without BSNs and, in some cases, currently employed nurses, too.
Spartanburg Regional Health Care System in Spartanburg, SC, made the local news for its requirement that nurses with associate degrees need to earn their BSN by Dec. 31, 2018, or possibly face “automatic relinquishment of employment.”
Bon Secours Roper St. Francis Hospital, Charleston, SC, opted to put a BSN timeline specifically to new nurse employees, who upon hire sign a contact vowing to earn a BSN within 5 years, according to the Spartanburg Herald Journal. AnMed Health System, Anderson, SC, reportedly gives new hires 3 years to earn a BSN, while the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, requires new hires to initiate BSN education within 2 years and to complete the program within 4 years.
Hospitals are also limiting the number of associate degree nurses they hire, and some systems, such as Summa Health in Akron, OH, say they will no longer hire nurses without BSNs except in rare circumstances.
“I didn’t want new nurses to be in the 20% number of non-BSNs in 2020,” Lanie Ward, RN, Summa’s senior vice president and chief nursing officer, told Crain’s Cleveland Business in September.
Recognizing the financial burden that accompanies further education, some hospitals and health systems are proving tuition help for their nurses. Christiana Care, Wilmington, DE, covers full tuition— prepaid—for nurses pursing BSNs (as well as master’s and doctoral degrees) at one of four area universities. For nurses who prefer to get their degrees elsewhere, the health system offers tuition reimbursement.
Spartanburg Regional Health Care System offers tuition assistance to all part- and full-time employees who have been employees for at least a year. Full-time nurses, according to the Spartanburg Herald Journal report, can receive up to $4,000 in tuition assistance a year, and part-time nurses can receive $2,000 in tuition assistance annually.
At Glen Falls Hospital, Glen Falls, NY, nurses receive tuition assistance to earn their BSN, a higher wage afterward, and support along the way. The hospital reportedly partnered with Siena College in Loudonville, NY, to arrange for all on-campus classwork in the school’s 2-year nursing program to be offered on Wednesdays—the most convenient day for Glen Falls nurses to take off. In addition, about a third of the coursework can be completed online.
“It’s a hybrid, so they have face-to-face time and a little bit of online,” Lisa Flack, director of the program, told the Post Star.
Christiana Care, too, makes sure tuition support isn’t the only assistance its BSN-pursing nurses receive.
“When nurses contact us about continuing their education, we partner with them every step of the way,” said Jennifer Painter, MSN, RN, OCN, AOCNS, staff education specialist. “We can provide support including assistance with outlining a plan for them to reach their academic goals.”
Upon program enrollment, “we can help arrange their precepted experiences and assist with creating a flexible, balanced work schedule with support from their managers,” Painter added.
How does your facility encourage and enable its nurses to earn BSNs?