The Educational Preparation of Bachelor Degree versus Associate Degree in Nursing Essay
Nursing has been regarded as the most trustworthy profession year after year in the United States (Laidman, 2012). Prior to the modern era of Nursing that began with Florence Nightingale, there was no specific profession of Nursing. Grand Canyon University, 2011, para. 4) Nursing is an evolving profession and its demand for educational requirements is increasing. In the past, nurses held hospital-based diplomas or associate degrees in Nursing. Now the expectation for education of nurses has been increased which is shown by hospitals only hiring bachelor degree nurses. The comparison between associate degree nurses and bachelor degree nurses remains a constant discussion in healthcare.Do bachelor degree nurses provide a higher quality of care to their patients and are they better equipped to do so with their two year extended length of study? Associate degree programs are 2 years in length and have a heavy focus on technical and hands-on bedside training. This type of training is sufficient for nurses in areas such as secondary care settings and was brought about due to the nursing shortage in the 1950’s. (Creasia & Friberg, 2011, p. 27) This type of training is to the point and is good in task-oriented positions.According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN, 2012): Baccalaureate nursing programs encompass all of the course work taught in associate degree and diploma programs plus a more in-depth treatment of the physical and social sciences, nursing research, public and community health, nursing management, and the humanities. The additional course work enhances the student’s professional development, prepares the new nurse for a broader scope of practice, and provides the nurse with a better understanding of the cultural, political, economic, and social issues that affect patients and influence health care delivery.Throughout the last decade, policymakers and practice leaders have recognized that education makes a difference. (Different Approaches to Nursing Education, 2012, para. 4) According to this information provided by the AACN, those two extra years of education provide vital information and theory in nursing practice for the novice nurse. The knowledge provided is well-rounded which allows the nurse to have greater critical thinking skills and to provide optimal patient care. Baccalaureate prepared nurses may have a different approach to situations than an associate prepared nurse.As mentioned in this paper thus far, associate degree nurses are well-equipped to perform well in task-oriented environments such as secondary-care settings. Their lack of education regarding the treatment of the physical and social sciences and nursing research, would impact their approach in a setting such as an intensive care unit (ICU). The ICU is a high demand area which requires vast physical science knowledge. There is a higher demand of education needed such as physical assessment courses, pharmacology and pathology.An associate degree nurse will lack that further education of those core classes for the clinical care of the sick patients in the ICU. Baccalaureate prepared nurses also have a better understanding of social sciences such as cultural competency. This is important in the healthcare provided to patients, such as the critically ill and especially in situations where there is the dying process involved. Cultural competence is vital in those situations where the staff needs to be understanding of their wishes and beliefs during this time of grieving.On a daily basis, there is always opportunity to improve nursing care. This would involve nursing research, which is another class offered to this higher degree of nursing. A baccalaureate nurse would be aware of initiating this process in their work setting, such as the ICU, to improve patient care. According to the AACN (2012): In October 2010, the Institute of Medicine released its landmark report on The Future of Nursing, initiated by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which called for increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce to 80% by 2020.The expert committee charged with preparing the evidence-based recommendations in this report state that to respond “to the demands of an evolving health care system and meet the changing needs of patients, nurses must achieve higher levels of education. ” (Different Approaches to Nursing Education, 2012, para. 6) In conclusion, a baccalaureate prepared nurse is better prepared to provide a higher level of care to patients versus an associate degree nurse. They have a well- rounded education base which encompasses sciences, humanities, technological, research and management skills.This validates the push for a higher entry-level degree such as a bachelor’s for nursing. The demand for higher educated nurses continues to grow as hospitals are only hiring baccalaureate nurses to provide the most optimal care to their patients.