Key Differences Over Time Between Associate's Degree and Bachelor's Degree Graduates: Quality Improvement Preparedness, Mobility, and Achieving Advanced Degrees

Wednesday, 24 July 2013: 8:30 AM

Carol S. Brewer, PhD, RN, FAAN
School of Nursing, University at Buffalo The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY
Christine T. Kovner, PhD, RN, FAAN
College of Nursing, New York University, New York, NY

Learning Objective 1: The learner will examine key differences among AD and BS RNsí educational background and their quality improvement preparedness, and mobility.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will examine the characteristics of RNs who are likely to enroll in and complete additional degrees.

Purpose: The purpose of this presentation is to summarize our longitudinal study findings related to RN education on RN characteristics, mobility, quality improvement (QI) preparedness and achieving advanced degrees among newly licensed RNs (NLRN) who have been followed from 2006 to 2011.

Methods: This is a longitudinal, multi-state study with nationally representative sample. The initial survey (Wave 1) enrolled a sample of 3370 initially. Respondents to this survey were sent surveys in 2007 (Wave 2, n=2,386), 2009 (Wave 3, n= 2,007), and 2011 (Wave 4, n= 1,544).

Results: In one study we examined the characteristics which affected degree completion including race, previous employment, geographical area, time of shift, and parental education.  RNs with Bachelor’s degrees (BS) were more likely to work in hospitals and were also more likely to work in direct care within 6-18 months of graduation. In another study BS graduates reported feeling significantly better prepared than associate degree (AD) graduates in quality improvement knowledge and skills but there was no significant differences of reported participation in hospital QI activities.  Another study showed that NLRNs seem to have limited geographical mobility. Approximately 79% of NLRNs attended a nursing degree program in the state in which they graduated high school, and 88% took their first nursing job in that state.  The median distance between degree program and high school was 31.6 miles and to eventual workplace was 21.3 miles. AD RNs were more likely to get their degree and work near where they attended high school.

Conclusion: There are important differences between AD and BS NLRNs. Recommendations for encouraging additional formal education and higher degrees include making a return to school easier, more efficient, and more affordable; including internet-based and worksite classes to help with scheduling conflicts; and employing mentorship models for academic-clinical partnerships.