Let’s talk about degree inflation


iStock | nensuriaiStock | nensuria

I want to talk about degree inflation. And I don’t mean when your patient is holding the thermometer over a light bulb to make it look like he has a fever.

My hospital recently went to a BSN-only hiring policy. I have a number of problems with this, the main two being as follows:

  1. In this area, at least, a BSN requirement guarantees that the diversity of the hiring pool will become very limited. The folks who get bachelor’s degrees around here are uniformly white, female and on their first career. The people who get associate’s degrees or go through bridge programs (LPN to RN) are older, are of varying ethnicities and backgrounds, and usually have had at least one career already.
  2. Our facility has focused so hard on the letters after somebody’s name that they’ve hired some real winners. I am currently training a nurse with six or seven years of experience and every certification imaginable who cannot set up a suction canister correctly, even with multiple tries. He looks great on paper, and was hired because he looks great on paper. Meanwhile, another nurse I’m friends with, with more than a dozen years’ experience and a military background, can’t get a job with us because she lacks the vital initials.

I’ll admit to some prejudice: I’m an ADN. I have two bachelor’s degrees in the liberal arts and hours that count toward a master’s degree, and have done paid and volunteer work both in and out of nursing. I’ve found that my sociology degree prepared me just fine for critical thinking and analysis, and the English minor I took makes me the person others seek out when it’s time to edit their term papers.

Sure, not everybody is as brilliant, talented and beautiful as I am. Sure, some people have to be led by the hand through management and critical-thinking courses, and taught how to differentiate homeopathy from evidence-based medicine. But just as surely, there are people out there with perfectly good associate’s or hospital degrees who can do just as well as a bachelor’s-prepared nurse. The metric should be the individual’s brain, not the letters after his or her name.

I’m curious to know what Scrubs readers think of the trend of the BSN becoming the entry-level degree for our field. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

    How do I deal with nurse bullies?

    Previous article

    Ask Auntie Aggie: Were you people raised by wolves?!

    Next article

    You may also like

    More in Scrubs