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Riddle me this…in what profession is one degree not enough?
In what profession is a MASTERS degree not enough?
What profession has multiple points of entrance to practice?
In what profession is alphabet soup lauded?
In what profession can you go to school for the rest of your life and still not obtain all there is in that profession?
If you answered nursing, then you are correct!
Nursing education hasn't always troubled me, it began when I was a fresh new RN who had just graduated from my associates program.
As soon as I graduated, I was bombarded with questions about going back to school to complete my bachelors degree. I had just completed my 2nd nursing degree and I was already hounded about going back.
The longer I've been a nurse, the more I realize nursing education is fractured and needs revamping. It seems as if you can’t advance your career in nursing without getting yet another degree or certification.
For those who don’t know my educational history I started out on the bottom rung of the ladder as a nurses' aide. I soon went back to school for my LPN, then my associates, then my bachelors. I finally went back to school for my masters degree to become a nurse practitioner.
To say the least, I’m tired of going to nursing school.
When I was an LPN, I was always told I’d have more opportunity as a RN for advancement. When I graduated from my associates degree program, I was told I needed a bachelors degree to do anything worthwhile away from the bedside. When I finally got my bachelors degree, I was told that wasn’t enough and that I needed my masters. Now that I have my masters, it’s still not good enough since people keep asking me when I’m going back for my doctorate.
I’m not going to collect nursing degrees. They are not meant to collect and place on your office wall just because. I have four and I’m content with just having FOUR nursing degrees.
The way the profession is set up, I can go to school for the rest of my life and still not obtain all the nurse practitioner certifications nursing offers.
I see a problem with this.
This past weekend I met a fellow nurse who was working on her 5th nursing degree and planning for her 6th. She tried to convince me that I needed to get a post-masters degree or my doctorate as well. I held steadfast in saying 'No, I do not want to go back to school for yet another nursing degree', in which she then looked at me like I had horns growing from my head.
Why is my one masters degree not good enough?
Because nursing education is fractured. I said it once and I’ll say it again…nursing education is F-R-A-C-T-U-R-E-D.
Take the role of nurse practitioner for example. I am a Family Nurse Practitioner, yet when I graduated I found I could not work in a pediatric setting in my area without a Pediatric Primary Care certification. Or if I wanted to work in a children’s hospital I would have to have a Pediatric Acute Care certification. A local hospital in the area wouldn't allow me to work there without an Adult-Geriactric Acute Care degree even if I just were to round on medical floors and not the ICU.
Do you see where this trend is going?
There are currently nine different types of nurse practitioner certifications while our PA counterparts have one.
This is ridiculous.
Although nursing has been deemed the most trusting profession, it's still not a respected profession to many because of our education. If the general public only knew how many points of entry to practice we have, it would make their heads spin. Physicians don't respect the nurse practitioner degree as they should because of our lack of standardized education. Nurses even fight among ourselves about who has a higher degree or additional certification to add to the alphabet soup that only nurses know so well.
We will never get ahead without fixing the fractured education of nursing.
As I said earlier, I stair-stepped my career and it's helped me tremendously by doing so, but ultimately there should only be one entry level nursing degree.
The nursing profession needs to consolidate the current educational structure and make a BSN the entry to practice since it has been discussed for over forty years by the American Nurses Association (ANA).
Consolidation of basic nursing education also affects the higher level nursing degrees, mainly nurse practitioners. I love my role as a nurse practitioner, but I have found that I am disappointed in our educational structure.
There is no consistency between schools for curriculum, admission requirements, nursing experience, or even our certification exam since there is more than one certifying board depending on your specialty. Everybody wants to be a nurse practitioner with little to no nursing experience, and lastly, the number of nurse practitioners graduating each year is staggering.
The inconsistent (and sometimes lax) admission requirements between schools has resulted in a surplus of nurse practitioners that will eventually decrease the wages for the profession. The lack of standardization in curriculum between schools hurts us, and because of this, we lose respect from the medical community. Because of this, they (physicians) offer us crap wages upon graduation even though the average nurse practitioner goes through at least 7 years of education.
And lastly, don't get me started on the online nursing degree trend. That's another blog post for another day.
Nursing needs to get our education together once and for all.
What do you think about current nursing education? Weigh in below!