NEW YORK NURSE: June 2010
by Erin Silk
More than 20 members of NYSNA and NYONE (New York Organization of Nurse Executives) made the case for advanced education for nurses at the CANE (Coalition of Advanced Nursing Education) Lobby Day on May 25 at the State Capitol. The Educational Advancement for Nurses bill (A2079-B), currently before the New York State Assembly, would require nurses entering the profession to obtain their baccalaureate degree within 10 years of licensure.
Wearing buttons proclaiming “Not IF, but WHEN – Make a bachelor’s in nursing in 10 years the new standard,” the two nurse groups sat down with legislators who support the bill - or may be on the fence - and armed them with information to answer questions from detractors.
NYSNA has long championed the proposed legislation, formerly known as “BSN in Ten,” and points to improved patient outcomes, increased nurse retention rates and higher salaries for nurses as reasons to support the initiative.
NYSNA President Karen Ballard explained to one legislative staffer that, “this bill starts nurses on a career path that encourages them to keep pace with advances in technology and in turn, gives us a better prepared workforce to care for patients.” Ballard said that higher education will inspire some nurses to become nurse educators, a field that is shrinking at an alarming rate.
Marie Ankner, president of NYONE, pointed to the bill’s role in patient safety stating that “research has demonstrated that baccalaureate-prepared nurses contribute to improved clinical patient outcomes and a decrease in complications, which may be attributed to enhanced critical thinking and assessment skills.”
NYONE’s website also points to increased nurse retention stating that overall, baccalaureate prepared RNs are more likely to have been in their jobs for more than 10 years, citing job satisfaction related to more autonomy and growth, and less job stress and demands, as reasons for retention.
Both Ankner and Ballard worked to dispel misconceptions of the bill, including the belief that it would put an end to associate degree programs, as many two-year colleges fear. “This is absolutely not the case and will not happen. Two-year degree programs will still continue to thrive with this initiative,” said Ballard.
Overall, the two groups had the supportive ear of many lawmakers and the productive meetings point to a hopeful outcome for this bill.
One legislative staffer said it best when she summarized the bill as a “common sense measure that brings the statute into real time.”
The Educational Advancement for Nurses bill was reported out of the Senate higher education committee on May 26 and is currently in the Codes Committee. At press time, the bill is in the higher education committee in the Assembly.