An Increase in the Number of Nurses with Baccalaureate Degrees is Linked to Lower Rates of Mortality and Improved Patient Outcomes

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Kristen Magnuski, BSN, RN-BC
Katherine Connelly, BSN, RN, CCRN
Nancy Ricciardi, BSN, RN
Evelyn L. Spiro School of Nursing, Wagner College, Staten Island, NY, USA

With more than 3 million members, the nursing profession is the largest segment of the nation's health care workforce.  Patient needs have become more complicated, and it is essential that nurses attain requisite competencies to deliver high-quality care.  The purpose of this research was to examine whether higher education levels in nursing are associated with improved patient outcomes.  The information used for this study was obtained through online searches of journal articles.  Most of the articles reviewed focused on Registered Nurse (RN) education levels and hospital mortality rates, while others expanded their research to include the effects of education on other nurse-sensitive outcomes.  The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends increasing the percentage of RNs with baccalaureate degrees (BSN) from 50% to 80% by the year 2020 (Institute of Medicine, 2010).  Articles that supported the growing body of research to move towards BSN education for RNs in order to decrease mortality and improve patient outcomes were explored.  In reviewing these articles, the recommendations of the IOM's report to increase RN educational levels are supported.  Policy makers, educators, and administrators have a strong evidence base on which to make their decisions regarding the encouragement and funding for nurses' higher education (Blegen, Goode, Park, Vaughn, & Spetz, 2013).