ANA Reaffirms Commitment to BSN for Entry into Practice (2/25)

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February 25, 2000


ANA Reaffirms Commitment to BSN for Entry into Practice

Supports New Certification Program to be Offered by ANCC

Washington, D.C. - The American Nurses Association (ANA) Board of Directors reaffirmed its longstanding position that baccalaureate education should be the standard for entry into professional nursing practice. The reaffirmation follows on the heels of a recent decision by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a subsidiary of the ANA, to offer a new certification exam for nurses who hold a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN), and to offer the present exams to nurses who hold an associate degree or diploma.

This new approach to certification provides an opportunity to distinguish between the nurse with a BSN who will earn a "board certified" credential and the nurse who holds an associate's degree or diploma, who will earn the "certified" designation. The new exams for BSNs, slated to be offered later this year, will be based on the results of the role delineation study currently underway, and will continue to validate the knowledge, skills and abilities of the BSN, associate degree and diploma graduate.

"Certification is becoming increasingly recognized as one of the methods of validation of competence," said ANA President Mary E. Foley MS, RN. "The ANCC board made a thoughtful decision that reflects the current environment which emphasizes continuing competence for ALL nurses, not only those with a bachelor's degree. The majority of registered nurses in clinical practice--some 70 percent--do not hold a BSN."

"Nursing is a knowledge based-profession that requires lifelong learning," said Foley. "I believe that ANCC's recent action supports ANA's vision and mission and complements our position on entry into practice."

In 1964, the ANA House of Delegates (HOD) adopted a motion "that ANA continue to work toward baccalaureate education as the educational foundation for professional nursing practice." Since that time, this issue has been debated in policy meetings at the state and national levels of the association. In 1985, the HOD agreed to urge state nurses associations to establish the baccalaureate with a major in nursing as the minimum educational requirement for licensure and to retain the legal title, Registered Nurse, for that license and to establish the associate degree with a major in nursing as the education requirement for licensure to practice technical nursing.

In 1991, the ANA HOD adopted the position that "ANA support the baccalaureate degree in nursing as a requirement for all generalist certification examinations by 1998. . . ." The following year, the Board of Directors of ANCC implemented the recommendations of the HOD. As a result, at the end of 1998, the BSN became an eligibility requirement for candidates taking ANCC generalist certification exams. In 1995, the HOD agreed to "declare the baccalaureate degree in nursing as the educational requirement for the beginning registered or ‘basic' nurse."

ANA believes that baccalaureate nursing education is necessary to prepare the nursing workforce for the challenges of a complex and changing health care system. ANA has long supported increased accessibility to high-quality educational and career mobility programs that utilize flexible approaches to individuals seeking academic degrees in nursing and a major plank in ANA's legislative platform focuses on ensuring continued support for nursing education both at the baccalaureate and graduate levels.

Despite ANA's position about educational preparation for entry into practice, three paths for basic educational preparation for nursing practice remain in place. An individual must complete an accredited nursing program earning either a two-year associate degree, a three-year diploma or four-year baccalaureate in order to sit for the RN licensure. Licensure is regulated at the state level by agencies such as a board of nursing. To date, North Dakota is the only state that has passed legislation implementing the baccalaureate as the standard for RN entry into practice.

"ANA takes seriously its responsibility to set the standards for the profession," said Foley. "We support our state nurses associations who continue to pursue implementation of this standard for entry into practice."

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The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a subsidiary of the America Nurses Association, leads organized nursing in the number and scope of its credentialing program. ANCC certifies nurses in general and advanced practice specialties and in modular areas of expertise. In addition, ANCC accredits organizations that offer or approve continuing education courses for registered nurses, and recognizes excellence in nursing services through its Magnet Nursing Services Recognition Program. The ANCC Institute of Research, Education, and Consultation provides support services for ANCC, other credentialing bodies and individual nurses.

ANA is the only full-service professional organization representing the nation's 2.6 million registered nurses through its 53 constituent associations. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying Congress and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.