BSN in 10: New York & Beyond
The United States is in the midst of a national nursing shortage. There simply are not enough nursing personnel to meet the needs of all healthcare facilities. While many are taking whatever nursing personnel they can get, there is a bigger push to employ BSN-educated nurses. There are also incentives for healthcare facilities that employ these BSN-degreed nurses.
All of this is shown in New York’s BSN in 10 law that went into effect in December 2017. It is changing the face of nursing – and is not without its benefits for nurses who are quick to comply.
What is the BSN in 10 Initiative?
The BSN in 10 initiative is not a new concept. It has been a hot topic of discussion since around 1964. In a nutshell, it was part of a push for 80% of all registered nurses (RNs) to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) by the year 2020. Further, it is part of the criteria outlined by the American Nurses Credentialing Center for hospitals to attain Magnet status.
The Magnet Recognition Program highlights specific qualities of a healthcare facility showing that it values skilled nurses. It encourages healthcare organizations to create and foster environments that are ideal for nursing talent to operate at their full potential. It highlights organizations that recognize the skill, caliber, and quality of their nursing care. As a result, patient care is improved as well as other rewards for the organization. Ultimately, though, a facility with Magnet status attracts and retains the most efficient and skilled nurses.
As part of the NYS Nurse Practice Act, the BSN in 10 initiative’s far reaching impact improved the quality of patient care as it encouraged nurses to aim for a higher standard in their skills and education.
New York’s BSN in 10 Law
On December 1, 2017, Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, signed the BSN in 10 bill into law, making New York the first state to raise the standard of nursing care by increasing the level of education for RNs.
The BSN in 10 Law requires that all professional registered nurses either have a bachelor of science in nursing at the time they enter into practice or they must obtain a BSN within 10 years after the date they were initially licensed. Multiple entry points into the nursing profession will continue to exist, being the diploma, associate degree, and the BSN.
There are three components to the law:
- Nurses entering into the professional RN practice must have or obtain within 10 years their baccalaureate degree
- A special commission was established to evaluate the nursing industry in the state and report any barriers or challenges that would prevent individuals from entering into nursing (within 12 months), as well as recommendations to make the profession more available and accessible
- A grandfather clause that protects nurses who have an associate degree and were either enrolled as students or waitlisted in an associate degree program when the law was enacted.
Why BSN in 10?
The BSN in 10 law benefits patients by increasing the level of skilled care they receive. Organizations that use it to obtain Magnet Status are highlighted as preferred healthcare facilities by both patients and nurses. However, the nurses benefit as well.
Two of the more obvious advantages for nurses pursuing their BSN are increased opportunities and higher earning potential. A BSN opens more doors for nurses, allowing them to be more selective of where they want to work. It also often means a higher salary. RNs with a BSN earn an average income of $82,000 annually while RNs who do not have a BSN earn an annual average income of $71,730.
Many nurses are able to go to school to earn their BSN while they are working. This makes it a lot easier to meet the requirements set forth by the BSN in 10 law. By having the time to attend school on a part-time basis, they can continue working. This is a concept that has been adopted across most industries but may be most popular in business administration. For years we have seen “non-traditional” students attend college to earn their degrees, all while working full-time and caring for their families.
Another advantage of the law is that it encourages continuous learning. This means more up-to-date skills and knowledge. It is a win-win for everyone.
80% BSN by 2020 Goal
Originally, the BSN in 10 called for 80% of all professional RNs to have their BSN by the year 2020. Unfortunately, they did not meet that goal. However, that has not stopped the push for more RNs to get their BSN within 10 years of initial licensure if they do not already have it when they enter the workforce as a professional registered nurse.
When the New York bill was signed in 2017, it went into effect immediately. Still, it only allowed for three years, 36 months, to meet the 2020 deadline. That is a relatively short time and when you consider that almost halfway through that timeframe the global COVID pandemic hit which disrupted both healthcare and education. Add to that the nursing shortage and it is easy to see how difficult it was to maintain the standard when hospitals were overwhelmed, schools were closed, and the entire world was scrambling to survive.
As the world returns to a state of somewhat normalcy, classes are resuming and there is more time for working nurses to pursue their BSN degrees. Now they can return to continuing their education and meeting the requirements set forth by the law.
At last, the state may see that 80% goal reached.
Do You Need a Bachelor’s to be a Nurse?
A nursing education has several entry points when you are seeking professional status. Ultimately, in New York, registered nurses do need to have their BSN within 10 years. Other states do not yet have this law, but they may in the future. However, you can enter into the profession with an Associate Nursing Degree to get started in the industry, then work towards your BSN.
It is important to note that the BSN in 10 does not make other nursing degrees obsolete. It simply increases the standards of nursing education. Associate nursing degrees are as valid as they ever were and are a great way to break into the industry and begin your journey toward a BSN.
An Associate Degree in Nursing is adequate for becoming a registered nurse. However, the bar is rising, and a BSN is the preferred educational level for a number of nursing specialties. Having an ADN may qualify you to take the NCLEX-RN exam. That is the exam that is required for those who wish to be licensed as a registered nurse.
An ADN is a two-year degree and a BSN is typically a four or five-year degree program. Several states have expedited programs for certain licensures. While getting a four-year degree may take up to five years, it is also understood that working adults may require longer simply because they are attending school around their work schedule. That is the reason for the 10-year limit – to provide plenty of time for working RNs to get the education they need.
The BSN in 10 is a positive movement in the direction of improving the education of RNs and improving the nursing profession as a whole. The higher degree means a higher level of knowledge and competency while raising the standards of nurses across the board. This in turn sets a standard for healthcare organizations to demand higher quality nursing personnel and that translates to a much higher quality of patient care. It is a positive step that will benefit every patient who walks through the door.