Education levels rising for nurses
From the The Brunswick News
Nurses with two-year associate degrees may soon find that employers want staff members to have higher levels of education.
Many hospital administrators say a more educated staff produces better results for patients, said Patricia Kraft, dean of nursing and health sciences at College of Coastal Georgia.
"Research demonstrated the higher the education preparation of not just nursing but for everybody in the hospital, the better the care for the patient," Kraft said.
"As a result of that, I think you're going to find that hospitals all across the United States (focus on) patient safety, so they're trying to increase the education of nurses."
More and more hospitals in the U.S. are requiring four-year degrees, a change that is compelling some nurses with two-year associate degrees to return to school.
Southeast Georgia Health System, which operates the Brunswick and St. Marys hospitals, does not require all nurses to hold bachelor degrees, though it might prefer job candidates who have a higher level of education.
"The basic job description for a nurse does not require a four-year degree," said Patrick Ebri, vice president of human resources for the health system.
"However, depending on the curriculum of the specific program, some of the bachelor-of-science nurses are believed to be better prepared than associate-degree nurses, particularly in areas of critical thinking and leadership."
Nurses in the health system are required to have a valid Georgia nursing license and be graduates of accredited schools of nursing. Some higher-level positions may required more education and experience. Still, medical staff must stay up to date on medical procedures and technology.
"Along with basic educational requirements for entry into practice, the health system requires and provides for annual required education and competency validation for its nursing team members," said Elizabeth Gunn, Southeast Georgia Health System vice president for patient care services. "This is an industry-wide standard that we take pride in holding our team accountable to."
While all levels of education are needed to properly care for patients, the health system falls in line with Georgia standards that maintain an associate degree appropriately prepares individuals for the nursing field.
Some national organizations, like the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurse Society require nurses to hold a bachelor's degree before being certified, Ebri said.
"I imagine that other specialty nurse programs would require this in the near future," Ebri said. "A (Bachelors of Science in Nursing) degree also makes it easier for nurses who want to transition into advanced practice nursing or management to acquire such (advanced) degrees."
All levels of education are needed for nurses to properly care for patients, Kraft said, and though a bachelor's degree may be rising as the more preferred education level, associate degrees are still valued in the medical community
"We need the associate-degree nurses, we need the bachelor-degree nurses," Kraft said. "We need everybody at every level of education that we can prepare them. We need all levels of care."
To address the increasing demand for nurses with higher education levels, College of Coastal Georgia will begin offering its program that allows nurses holding associate degrees to advance to a bachelor's degree online this fall.
|Release Date: 7/14/2012|
Source: The Brunswick News
|By NIKKI WILEY|