New Requirements for Nurses Spark Changes and Growth in Online Degrees

The high demand for nurses attracts thousands of new professionals each year and allows experienced nurses the comfort of job security. However, an industry push for nurses with bachelor’s degrees is shaking things up, according to this article in The New York Times. An associate degree may no longer be enough to give new and veteran nurses longevity in an industry under pressure to increase quality. As a result, nurse education programs are changing rapidly to create better options for professionals hoping to enter the field.

Until now, hospitals required an associate degree in nursing and R.N. certification as the minimum qualifications for most nursing positions, as well as any experience or specialization relevant to a specific position. While licensing requirements for the profession have not officially changed, many hospitals strongly prefer nursing candidates with bachelor’s degrees, a trend that began in the last five years. The trend took such a strong hold in the industry that many hospitals have rewritten their official policies on nursing job requirements, a move that prompted thousands of nurses to boost their academic credentials.

According to this article, enrollment in four-year nursing degree programs is at an all-time high. Nursing degree programs are implementing changes to capitalize on an evolving industry and accommodate working nurses. The demand for affordable, convenient and thorough degree programs is high, which makes online education a natural and obvious choice for nurses already working in the field. The R.N. to BSN degree plan allows nurses to build on their existing training and education and leverage them toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The R.N. to BSN concept took a strong hold and programs like it are popping up all over the Web.

An online degree especially makes sense for working nurses because they don’t have to leave their jobs. Online education works with their schedules, whether they work a 17-hour rotation or a night shift. And, many online programs offer an accelerated track for professionals in a hurry. Students at the start of their nursing careers should note that online degrees may not include on-site, hands-on training required to become a licensed professional.

Standards for the nursing profession are rising. But the demand for nurses in general remains high with job growth expected to increase 26% by 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BSL). With or without a bachelor’s degree, nursing is a promising field and R.N.s without a bachelor’s degree can still land jobs. However, working toward a BSN is your best bet for strong job prospects.

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