Studies prove it, and hospital executives are beginning to take notice. In the largest, most detailed study of its kind, it was once again concluded that advanced nurse degrees result in better patient health outcomes. The study, published in The Lancet, examined data from 422,730 patients in 300 hospitals across nine European countries.
“Our study is the first to examine nursing workforce data across multiple European nations and analyze them in relation to objective clinical outcomes, rather than patient or nurse reports. Our findings complement studies in the U.S. linking improved hospital nurse staffing and higher education levels with decreased mortality” said study author, Professor Linda H. Aiken PhD – University of Pennsylvania.
The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice
The studies to which Dr. Aiken is referring is a rapidly growing body of evidence that suggests that patient health outcomes improve when treated by RNs with advanced education, specifically a baccalaureate or master’s degree. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) summarizes a number of these studies titled “The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice” and is available in PDF.
President Jane Kirschling of the AACN said, “These findings significantly augment the growing body of research, which shows that quality patient care hinges on having a well-educated nursing workforce.”
What this Means for “The Future of Nursing”
In a landmark study, the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recommended that 80 percent of U.S. nurses have a bachelor’s degree by 2020. The report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, recommended advanced education for nurses to prepare for “the demands of an evolving health care system and meet the changing needs of patients.”
Hospitals have responded to this recommendation and the compelling study results by hiring only bachelor’s degree-trained nurses.
50 States Staffing VP of Recruitment Mary Kay Hull agrees, “It is very much on track with what we are seeing. More and more hospitals will only consider RNs with BSN or higher for travel nurse positions.”
Hospital executives are starting to pay attention to the growing body of evidence that nurses with advanced degrees facilitate better patient outcomes. The competition for patients and employees in the healthcare industry can be intense especially in major cities. While there is a moral case for advanced nursing education in saving and improving lives, there is also a solid business case for management to reform their hiring process.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago is one of those hospitals that have reformed their hiring practices. They are only hiring nurses with a BSN or higher to reach their goal of having 100 percent of their nursing workforce with advanced degrees.
Paid Education as a Travel Nurse
At Fifty States Staffing, we know that juggling a nursing career and family leaves little time and money for continuing education. For that reason we include education reimbursement as part of a generous benefits package along with free private housing and higher than average wages. We have several high-paying listings for nurses with their BSN and offer continuing education credits to those looking to advance their education.