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    The Future of Nursing: Call for Higher-Educated Nurses Despite Shortage

    Published on October 14, 2020

    Nurses are the backbone of healthcare, and without them, care, much less quality care, would be impossible from hospitals to the smallest clinics. Doctors may be specialists, but health is a journey. Nurses are the ones who are there every step of the way, from admittance to surgery and treatment through to aftercare. Without them, healthcare wouldn’t have a foundation to stand on. 

    Their importance of nurses is obvious, but they too must strive for better. That is why states are looking to increase the requirements for RNs. 

    The RN Pathways 

     Nursing as a whole is a very accessible degree, making it ideal for those who do not have the time, money, or means to go through medical school and instead Currently, there are two main options for RNs:


    AND, or the associate degree in Nursing, is a short program that takes only two years. The current minimum schooling is necessary to become an RN, and it still qualifies you to take the NCLEX-RN exam. 


    The reason why states are looking to increase their number of BSN-RNs, rather than their total RN hires by encouraging ADN-RNs, is simple. You complete an Associate Degree and your nursing career stalls. You cannot progress further, and therefore your potential to become an APRN or even DNP-APRN is minimal. You will need to take a step back to complete your BSN to progress, earn an MSN, or even a Doctor of Nursing Practice. 

    The Nursing Shortage in the United States 

    You do not need to hold a BSN to become an RN, but this is set to change. Hospitals and the government want their nurses to be able to progress so that RNs can be prepared to earn an MSN and become APRNs. Or to go further and earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice degree that will qualify them for advanced leadership positions or even as an educator. 

    It is best for the future of healthcare and each individual nurse, with an estimated 800,000 shortage in nurses and an estimated 1 million who will retire by 2030. It isn’t even feasible to provide funding to sponsor students, either, as part of that shortage is also in nurse educators who hold the necessary Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. This results in thousands of qualified students being turned away, simply due to a lack of positions. 

    Providing incentives for existing RNs to complete their MSN and their Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees will help with recruitment and training. 

    ADNs are useful, but they also cause careers to be limited. By actively encouraging new nurses to go for the BSN route, governments and healthcare institutions alike can fill their missing RN positions and take advantage of their many benefits. 

    Benefits of BSN RNs and Higher 

    At the lowest level of higher-qualified nurses are the BSN-RNs. Studies have shown that when RNs hold a BSN degree, there is a significant reduction in death risk. Just 10% more BSN RNs in a hospital could save nine more out of every 1000 deaths, or a 4% decrease. 

    The benefits continue with higher qualifications. Nurses who hold Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees make the most significant change to patients’ care and outcome, as their Doctor of Nursing Practice has specifically trained them both in care and in business management. Combining the two in an executive leadership position will help hospitals, nursing staff, and patients alike.  

    Existing Requirements for RN Licenses 

    Requirements both to achieve an RN license and to be eligible to renew it differ vastly from state to state. Some states like California require their RNs to hold accredited degrees, whereas other states require ongoing education. For example, Alaskan nurses must demonstrate that they have had 30 contact hours of continuing education, 60 hours of volunteer nursing, or 320 working hours. 

    These requirements are only going to become more stringent. Washington already has some of the most complex license renewal requirements. Though they only need to renew their license every three years, rather than every other year, Washington RNs must prove both 531 nursing hours and 45 hours of continuing education during this time. 

    Rundown of the High-Level Nursing Positions in Greatest Demand 

    It isn’t just BSN RNs that are in demand. There is a huge shortage of higher-level nurses that need to be filled as well. Most crucially, however, is the fact that none of these positions are open to those who don’t have a BSN. All require a BSN or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree to qualify legally. 

    Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist 

    CRNAs work alongside anesthesiologists, surgeons, and even dentists to provide safe anesthesia to patients. You will need a BSN and a year’s experience at an Acute Care facility at minimum, and that is to qualify for the MSN or Doctor of Nursing Practice in that specialty. However, the work is worth the effort, as CRNAs make the most out of all nursing positions, earning an average of $167,950 per year

    Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner 

    Mental health care is becoming increasingly accepted amongst the general population, meaning that more people are aware of how their mental health is affecting their daily lives, and most importantly, that they can get help if they need it. Unfortunately, there is a massive lack of qualified professionals in comparison to the people who need them. This makes it a very lucrative role, even without a Ph.D. and instead through the nursing route. The base salary for such a nurse is $234,500 per year, and all fifty states provide these FNP-APRNs with prescription privileges as well. 

    Gerontological Nurse Practitioner 

    The population is aging, and therefore more nurses who specialize not just in care but in gerontological medicine are essential to care for our aging population. They can diagnose and manage long-term and age-related illnesses and make a healthy salary of $105,000 on average. 

    Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner 

    An aging population also means that hip problems, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal conditions increase. TO become an orthopedic nurse practitioner, you will need to have an MSN degree with a certification approved by the state. 

    Pediatric Nurse Practitioner 

    Midwife and pediatric nurses make very healthy salaries and are there throughout a woman’s pregnancy all the way to birth and even beyond. Their care keeps the mother healthy and gives the baby the best shot at life. You will need years of training, as well as an MSN and certification that gives you the knowledge and skills to care for even critically ill newborns. 

    Director or Chief Nursing Officer 

    They are improving healthcare as a whole, which needs to be done with thoughts on patients, staff, and profits. The right Doctor of Nursing Practice can help prepare you for all of these demands and allow you to curate a healthy, thriving environment that saves lives and cares for its employees. Like other high-earning roles in nursing, the Director or CNO earn around $129,420 per year. 

    The Expansion of the Nurse Licensure Compact 

    An increase in BSN nurses would enable more to eventually achieve their MSN and Doctor of Nursing Practice, bolstering the overall state of healthcare in the long term. Another change that will improve nursing as a career path in the eyes of the public is the expansion of the Nurse Licensure Compact. Being unable to move or seek out opportunities in different states greatly limits the freedom of job seekers. The Nurse Licensure Compact works to remove these retrains. 

    The current NLC States 

    There are currently 32 NLC states, up from the original 29 states in the NLC, when it first began. This means that in most countries, you can work and move as a nurse without retaking your state exam. The transition is easy, affordable, and makes nursing far more accessible as a career choice. 

    The future NLC States 

    There are currently six states with pending legislation that are set to become NLC states. Guam, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont are currently waiting on their acceptance into the Nurse Licensure Compact. 

    Exemptions for the Non-NLC States 

    Some states have exemptions; for example, you can transfer your license over with a recommendation. New Jersey is also only partially implemented with NLC, so even amongst the states that are not part of the agreement, there are still ways around retaking the exam. 

    How to Futureproof Your Career as a Nurse 

    With so many empty RN positions, hospitals will not likely fire any ADN-holding nurses any time soon, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have difficulty moving forward with your career. 

    1. Achieve the BSN 

    Forget about the associate degree in Nursing. Always, always, always go the full mile and achieve your BSN. Only with this BSN is your future still open to you. Every single Advanced Practice Registered Nurse requires a Master of Science in Nursing, which in turn requires you to have a BSN to apply. 

    1. Specialize your MSN 

    To become an APRN you need an MSN and certifications in the specialty or area of medicine you are interested in. This is a lot of steps, yes, but take it slowly so that every step forward is in your future direction. 

    1. When to Get a DNP 

    Those in leadership positions or those who want to teach others should look into getting their Doctor of Nursing Practice. This is the highest achievement in nursing and will qualify you for the highest-paid roles and positions that give you the greatest influence to make changes for the better. 

    1. Obtain New Certifications Regularly

    Ongoing education is a part of nursing. Healthcare and medicine advance at shocking rates, and therefore a minimum number of education hours (through training or certification) will be essential to safeguard and progress your career. 

    How Employers Can Entice More to Start a Career in Nursing 

    It isn’t just the nurse that needs to be at the top of their game, but the employer as well. With a massive nursing shortage looming overhead, it has never been more important to encourage young people to pursue nursing as their #1 career option. The healthcare industry needs more nurses dedicated to reaching beyond the RN position, into APRN and beyond. 

    1. Provide More Mental Health Support 

    Compassion fatigue affects nurses, as do the long working hours and inconsistent schedules. Training and supportive benefits like access to mental health resources for free can help keep nurses in good mental health. By feeling supported and cared for, they can do their job, especially if part of that job also includes studying for their BSN, MSN, or Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees.

    1. Actively Support Working Parents 

    Employers should either manage or sponsor a day-care. Hospitals, in general, should already have such a program to provide support to patients, but all working personnel should have access to these facilities for free or for a very low cost. By properly caring for their child and having that level of support, nurses can again better manage the very difficult task of working while completing a degree. 

    1. Sponsored Training in High Schools 

    Encouraging young people to become nurses can be very simple and work to improve society as a whole. Instead of having career seminars or hosting a lecture, sponsor emergency first-aid training in conjunction with high schools. If there is a sign-up option, the classes will automatically be made up of those who want to help others and have an interest in health and wellbeing. By putting together pamphlets and, in general, discussing the role of nursing and paramedics, you could inspire and encourage more students to directly start a career in nursing. 

    1. Financial Support for Further Education 

    If your hospital needs more APRNs, then sponsoring their education is the best way to encourage your existing BSN to hold RNs to pursue higher education levels. Subsidize their education, and accommodate their additional study times with easier working schedules so that you can build up the staff that you need, rather than try to outbid other hospitals for the few qualified personnel available in your region.