May 10, 2010
Many hospitals that are cutting back on staff are becoming choosier about the nurses that they hire: The minimum educational level requirement now demanded is often a four-year bachelor's of science degree.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Main Line Health System, which has five suburban hospitals and employs 4,500 nurses, informed nursing schools over the summer that only nurses who have bachelor's degrees would be hired from now on. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania made the same policy change in 2004, as did Pennsylvania Hospital and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. Other hospitals have made it clear that nurses with four-year degrees are preferred, including at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania and Albert Einstein Medical Center.
"As hospitals downsize, many of the jobs available are for those nurses who have higher education levels," noted Cynthia Mailloux, Ph.D. who has chaired the nursing programs at Misericordia University and was interviewed in the Wilkes Barre Times-Leader in Pennsylvania.
The Inquirer explains that studies at the University of Pennsylvania indicated that nurses with more advanced degrees produced better patient outcome. One report even concluded that every 10-percentage-point increase in the proportion of nurses with a bachelor's degree in a hospital is associated with a 5 percent decline in patient mortality.
"The evidence base is growing," noted Linda Aiken, director at the Center for Health Outcomes Research at Penn's nursing school, who was quoted by the Inquirer, "and a number of hospitals are acting on it."
Indeed, late last year, a controversial study conducted by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recommended that all nurses receive a bachelor's of science degree in order to practice.
"Redesigning nursing education is an urgent societal agenda," wrote the authors in the publication. "The profound changes in nursing practice and healthcare call for equally profound changes in the education of nurses and the preparation of nurse educators."
Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff
"Book Highlights from Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation," The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
"Popular Profession: Nursing is a Competitive Career at Area Colleges," Wilkes Barre Times-Leader, May 4, 2010, Geri Ann Kaikowski
"When the Kind of Nursing Degree Determines Hiring," The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 9, 2010, Stacey Burling