I would like to respond to Dr. Nelson’s Entry into Practice article, "Education For Professional Nursing Practice: Looking Backward Into the Future." I graduated from an Associate Degree program several years ago. Because I was older and already had a family, it was the most efficient way for me to go into nursing; and it was the only nursing program available near my home. While still working full time, I returned to school and am now within a few courses of completing my baccalaureate degree. I have pursued further education for my own personal satisfaction. There is no encouragement at my hospital for experienced nurses to advance their education. The tuition reimbursement is meager compared to the cost of tuition, and the process to obtain this reimbursement is long and difficult. When I finish my degree, I will receive an additional $15.00 per week.
However, through this experience, I have come to believe that the educational requirement for entry into nursing should be a baccalaureate degree, as it is in all other professions. Nelson notes that changing nursing’s entry into practice will not be an easy task. The health care industry does not see the benefits of this change and so provides little support for the change. The change can only come from nurses themselves who care that nursing as a profession receives the respect and recognition it deserves. This respect and recognition are essential to maximize all that nurses have to offer our patients. In addition nurses are faced daily with more advanced technology, sicker patients, and increasingly difficult ethical issues; and patients are increasingly informed consumers who want quality care provided in a cost-effective manner. These situations demand a nurse prepared at the baccalaureate level. Education empowers nurses to practice at a higher level of personal and professional maturity, thus enhancing what each nurse can bring, personally and professionally, to the practice of nursing.
Martha L. Barca, RN
Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care
West Harwich, MA