Nursing Jobs and Education
Nursing is unique among the health care professions in the United States in that it has multiple educational pathways leading to an entry-level license to practice. Nursing students are able to pursue three different educational pathways to become registered nurses (RNs): the bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN), the associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), and the diploma in nursing. More recently, an accelerated, second-degree bachelor’s program for students who possess a baccalaureate degree in another field also has become a popular option. These various pathways provide numerous opportunities for women and men of modest means and diverse backgrounds to access careers in an economically stable field.
In addition to increased numbers of BSN-educated nurses, schools of nursing must build their capacities to prepare more students at the graduate level who can assume roles in advanced practice, leadership, teaching, and research. While 13 percent of nurses hold a graduate degree, fewer than one percent have a doctoral degree. Nurses with doctorates are needed to teach future generations of nurses and to conduct research that becomes the basis for improvements in nursing science and practice. The committee recommends doubling the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020.