BSN-Prepared Nurses Now Outnumber ADNs

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BSN-Prepared Nurses Now Outnumber ADNs

By Working Nurse
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Five years ago, the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report called for 80 percent of all nurses to have a BSN or better by 2020. We’re not there yet, but newly available data reveal that the balance has now shifted from ADNs to BSNs.

A Historic Moment

Future nursing historians will count 2011 as an important milestone in the development of the profession. Although the number of BSN-prepared nurses has been growing for some time, as late as 2010, the majority of nurses in the U.S. had only an associate degree. For example, in 2002, the ratio of ADN- to BSN-prepared nurses nationwide was 55/45.

However, a study published in the June 2015 issue of Nursing Economic$ reveals that since 2011, nurses with BSNs have actually outnumbered nurses with ADNs nationwide. In California, that trend is even further along. A 2014 survey conducted by the BRN found that 61.5 percent of California RNs now have at least a BSN.

Does the growing number of BSN-prepared nurses mean that the ADN is on its way out? No, says Joanne Spetz, Ph.D., FAAN, a UCSF professor and the director of the UCSF Health Workforce Research Center. Instead, a growing number of nurses are finding it expedient to begin their careers with an ADN and then take advantage of accelerated RN-to-BSN programs.

More Diversity

The coauthor of the Nursing Economic$ study, Peter Buerhaus, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, a professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Institute for Medicine and Public Health, says all sectors of nursing education saw “substantial and broad-based” growth between 2002 and 2012. During that period, the number of nurses with advanced degrees more than tripled.

The data also indicate a slower but still significant shift toward a more diverse nursing workforce. In 2012, 66 percent of nursing graduates self-identified as white, down from 73 percent in 2002. The percentage of male nursing graduates climbed from 10 percent in 2002 to 13 percent a decade later.  



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