Perceptions of the BSN: what nurses think and the factors that influence those perceptions
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has set a goal that 80% of nurses will be educated at the baccalaureate level or higher by the year 2020. Currently, only about 50% of nurses are educated at that level. To achieve that goal, significant work must be done to encourage nurses to return to school. Understanding the attitudes that nurses hold toward the baccalaureate degree, together with the factors that influence those perceptions, may lay the foundation for nursing leaders and educators to develop approaches that may be more effective in encouraging nurses to return to school. This study was designed, using a qualitative approach, to explore the perceptions and attitudes that nurses hold toward the BSN and the factors that influence those perceptions. The study found that non-BSN nurses generally view the BSN from the perspective of nurses’ performance at the bedside. BSN-prepared nurses are perceived as lacking the requisite technical skills of a good nurse. Factors that influence these perceptions, beyond the focus on skills, include a general view that “a nurse is a nurse is a nurse.” Other factors include the way in which the profession and employers fail to adequately differentiate nursing practice by educational level. The advanced recommendations to help address those perceptions and to act on the factors influencing those perceptions.