You find them in coffee shops across the country — students in medical scrubs whose noses are buried in textbooks thicker than an engine block. They’re often nursing students preparing for the culmination of years of nursing classes: the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX®). Stricter industry requirements, however, could have nursing students studying toward a different goal: a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
According to a recently published report by Apollo Research Institute, our nation’s health care system needs an additional 1 million nurses. Of that number, 80 percent should possess a BSN by the year 2020 in order to better meet the needs of an aging patient population, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Caroline Molina-Ray, PhD, executive director of research and publications at Apollo Research Institute, says that as the population becomes older and increasingly diverse, nurses working in short-staffed hospitals will need critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork and communication skills to meet these patients’ needs.
An associate degree doesn’t always give nursing students the chance to take the liberal studies courses that teach these skills. “Nurses will need more sophisticated technology skills to use electronic health records and other medical equipment,” Molina-Ray says.