I would like to comment on the entry level educational requirements for a registered nurse. I believe that if we are going to recruit people into nursing, then we will have to improve the image of the profession. Nursing is the only profession that doesn't require a college degree. I obtained a baccalaureate degree in nursing (BSN) in 1997. After working as a psychiatric nurse and earning the same level of pay as the RNs with Associate Degrees, I decided to enter a profession that would value my level of education. I presently work as a pharmaceutical representative, a job that requires a minimum of a Bachelor's degree.
In addition to my sales position, I am also working two weekends per month as a psychiatric nurse at a non-profit hospital. I was recruited for this position, not only because I had some experience as a psychiatric nurse, but also because I have a baccalaureate degree, and this hospital values baccalaureate degrees. In this setting there are two levels of Mental Health Technicians. The Mental Health Tech II position requires a baccalaureate degree. Ironically, just last night, a couple of the Tech II personnel mentioned that they didn't like having associate degree-prepared nurses in charge, because they didn’t want someone with an Associate's Degree in "charge" of workers with baccalaureate degrees. I remember when I was a junior in college, we had several people who left our program because they "weren’t making it." They immediately enrolled in the local associate degree program, graduated, and were working as RN's when we got out of college. By the time our class graduated, some of these nurses were charge nurses having the new BSN graduates were working under them.
I've explained the different levels of nursing education to people outside of the health care profession, and they are shocked to find out that this is going on. Hopefully, things will change soon. Nursing will continue to be viewed as a vocation, rather than as a profession, until the entry level educational requirements are changed.
Cynthia Baldischwiler, RN, BSN.
Senior Sales Consultant
Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation