Three answers from those who hire and manage nurses…
Why do nurse managers care so much about RN’s becoming more educated? Here are three reasons that those who supervise and hire nurses give for the increasing need for nurses with bachelor’s degrees.
Reason 1: Conflict resolution through better communication
The art of communication lives at the center of something nurses frequently face on the job: conflict.
Imagine this common scenario: disagreement on how to proceed with a patient’s treatment. The physician makes the determination that one treatment should occur, while a social worker feels another route would be better. A physical therapist or pharmacist may recommend something different altogether. Then, there’s the patient’s family’s unique habits and abilities to contend with.
All of these constituents have a voice concerning the patient’s care. However, advice from multiple trustworthy sources is often confusing or anxiety-inducing for patient himself.
Along with the patient, the RN is the one who gets caught in communication cross-fire, and it usually falls on the nurse to serve as the “translator” between all the parties. Because the nurse is the one professional with whom the patient has the most interaction, it seems natural for the nurse to serve as the patient advocate – and often the patient (and family) leans on the nurse for just this kind of support.
This is why mangers seek nurses with advanced education: they easily recognize the critical information points that each of the disciplines requires — and just as importantly, the nurses can express themselves in the way that will enable the physician, therapist, pharmacist, or other team members to hear them.
An academic setting breeds the communication skills necessary for nurses to run interference and to gain the ear and respect of multi-disciplined co-workers. Because each medical treatment contributor has a unique set of behaviors and language, formal education about the languages they speak enables nurses to provide empowered solutions.
Reason 2: Parity
Hiring mangers care about education because it offers nurses parity. That ensures more equality with other health care professionals, many of which are educated at the graduate and post-graduate level. An advanced education elevates the level of respect a nurse is due because it’s the common link to all the disciplines and aligns with the rigor to which others have devoted themselves in their professional practices.
Lack of parity is a profound handicap. Without college degrees, nurses are perceived to be a less valued member of the health care team. And consider this: there is not one other profession in the realm of health care that is non-degreed. In today’s environment, nurses can either elevate their stature with education or risk being continually viewed as merely a task worker or, worse, a second-class health care worker. A BSN degree is tangible evidence of a nurse’s value to other team members; to many managers and administrators, it is evidence of how much you care about your profession, your job, and your patients.
Reason 3: A commitment to incorporating new knowledge into practice
The third reason why managers care about having more advance-degreed nurses on staff is the need for new knowledge. New technologies, new government or payer policies, and new evidence-based research (treatments, methodologies, data) are constantly emerging. Advanced education affirms that a nurse views the incorporation of new knowledge as important to her practice. Managers care about a workforce that is inclined and compelled to understand the latest evidence – because what we know today may urgently surpass what we knew yesterday. Lastly, managers feel that a unified team, comprised of members that value continuing education, will work to gain insights together – and that’s what’s needed to improve health care overall.
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