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The Georgia nursing workforce of the future: increase the number of BSN graduates in the state to 80 percent by 2020!

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published the "Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health." This report highlighted eight recommendations for the future of nursing. One of these recommendations is to increase the number of BSN graduates to 80 percent by 2020. The recommendation reports, "there is a need for more nurses to enter the workforce with a baccalaureate degree or to progress to this degree early in their career" (p. 164, The Future of Nursing).

As GNA Director of Nursing Practice, my committee and I were tasked with the following:

1. Conduct a survey on nurses' support for educational advancement for ADN & diploma nurse graduates.

2. Convene all stakeholders to begin a dialogue on BSN in 10 for educational advancement.

3. Develop timeline for implementation of a process to transition future ADN and diploma educated nurses to the BSN within 10 years of graduation.

4. Educate the public on the benefits of having a BSN-educated workforce providing care.

5. Develop a fact sheet of benefits for the ADN or diploma nurse to obtain the BSN.

I attended a Georgia Nurse Leader Coalition meeting held at GNA headquarters in December to engage in strategic discussion regarding the Institute of Medicine's Future of Nursing report recommendations. A statewide workgroup has been focused on recommendation #4: Increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020. Georgia does not keep records of all the RN degree acquirements; therefore, the state nursing leaders are unable to assess how many RNs currently have an ADN degree. However, the statewide committee has developed a survey to assess the number of ADNs and diploma nurses currently employed. The survey will be distributed through the Chief Nursing Officers of each institution in the state.

The impetus for this work is the GNA position statement on the educational advancement of registered nurses, which concludes "The increasingly complex health care system requires a well-educated nursing workforce. In line with the Tri-Council's educational advancement position and the IOM Future of Nursing report, now is the time to promote efforts for future graduates of ADN and diploma nursing programs to advance their education." (

There are several reasons for increasing the educational level of RNs. There is evidence that educational level has been associated with mortality rates in acute care settings, i.e. the higher the percentage of BSN nurses the lower the odds on patient deaths and failure-to-rescue (p. 105, Aiken et al., 2011). BSN graduates have also demonstrated greater professional performance, e.g. communication skill, problem solving, knowledge and professional role (Johnson, 1987: IOM 2010). Hospitals are requiring more BSN-prepared nurses, in fact there are several hospitals (especially those with high BSN graduate populations) in the state that are only hiring BSN-prepared nurses. The U.S. military and VA are already taking steps to ensure their nurses are more educated. The BSN provides a stronger foundation for expanding nursing science, provides tools for nurses to become change agents, and provides more adaptability to evolving models of care. In a 2001 Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) survey by Goode et al (2001), the CNOs desired critical thinking skills and preferred BSN-prepared nurses.

Please take the time to complete the survey that will be distributed very soon. Those with BSNs can encourage colleagues to return to school. Yet, there are barriers to returning to school, including geographical location, time, effort, value and cost. Family responsibilities can also create a barrier to returning to school. There are solutions to these barriers, e.g. prioritization of time (the use of restorative activities when in school). In order to become more successful in completing the BSN, find a friend or another nurse and return to school with a colleague. There are many different avenues to pursuing education and distance education is readily available. Advancing education does cost money; however, there are many financial assistant options. Several tuition reimbursement programs are available.

In years to come, we may see a move toward the BSN in 10 for nurses in Georgia and across the nation. Waiting for "a better time to start school" is not realistic - the opportunity is now. Degree completion offers a sense of achievement, a chance to change directions within the profession and personal and professional growth.


Aiken, L., Cimiotti, J., Sloane, D., Smith H., Flynn, L., Neff, D. (2011). Effects of nurse staffing on patient deaths in hospitals with different nurse work environments. Medical Care, (49), 1047-1053.

Goode, C., Pinkerton, S., McCausland, M., Southard, P., Graham, R. (2001). Documenting chief nursing officers' preference for BSN-prepared nurses. JONA, (31), 55-59. GNA position statement action report promoting educational advancement for Registered Nurses. retrieved March 6, 2012.

Institute of Medicine. "The Future of Nursing - Leading Change, Advancing Health;" Report Brief October 2010.

Johnson, J. (1988). Differences in the performances of baccalaureate, associate degree, and diploma nurses: A meta-Analysis. Research in Nursing & Health, (11), 183-197.

Tri-Council for Nursing. "Educational Advancement of Registered Nurses: A Consensus Position". 2010 Press release.

By Carol Dean Baker PhD, RN Director of Nursing Practice and Committee Members Debra Adams, Brenda Heidman, Lindsey Kimbell, Lynn Stover, Helen Taggart, Rebecca Wheeler
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Author:Baker, Carol Dean
Publication:Georgia Nursing
Date:May 1, 2012
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