Study says that nurses with baccalaureates reduce mortality rates

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While many cases can be made for getting your bachelor’s degree before becoming a nurse, perhaps none have hit home as hard as this recently published study.

Though an Institute of Medicine report has called for registered nurses to achieve higher levels of education, there was limited evidence that bachelor’s degrees made a difference on the job. However, using a Pennsylvania nurse survey and patient discharge data from 1999 and 2006, authors of a new study in Health Affairs found that “a ten-point increase in the percentage of nurses holding a baccalaureate degree in nursing within a hospital was associated with an average reduction of 2.12 deaths for every 1,000 patients—and for a subset of patients with complications, an average reduction of 7.47 deaths per 1,000 patients.”

The authors also estimated that “if all 134 hospitals in the study had increased the percentage of their nurses with baccalaureates by ten points during our study’s time period, some 500 deaths among general, orthopedic, and vascular surgery patients might have been prevented.” Pretty staggering, right? They hope that these findings provide support for efforts to increase the education and employment of baccalaureate nurses.

Why do you think of this new study? Do you think it’s important to get your bachelor’s in nursing before joining the field? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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7 Responses to Study says that nurses with baccalaureates reduce mortality rates

  1. SuzReag

    Not enough information is printed in this report. I would like to see the study details before making a firm stance. What is the breakdown of years of experience and education at the hospitals studied? How many hospitals were in the study? Too small of a pool could skew results, as well as other factors like experience, hours on the clock, and staffing acuity. I am a new grad RN from an ADN program (I have a Bachelor’s in another field). Right now, I do not see a difference in my ability to be a good and safe nurse as compared to other new RNs who have BSNs. The classes I still have to take for my BSN are all Management type classes, not patient care.

  2. Mommynator

    Sorry, I don’t believe it. Most of the BSN programs in my area have limited contact with real patients. My poor little AAS program, we’ve done just about everything and not just ADLs. Medications, IVs, cathethers, head to toe assessment including neuro.

    One of my PCA friends in the nursing program with me just gets totally aggravated with the vaunted BSN students standing around with their thumbs up their nether ends, doing nothing except expecting to watch her do the work.

  3. dean012

    I am very disturbed by this so-called “study”. As a ADN nurse for over 10 years I have witnessed many more shortcomings in nurses with BSN vs. ADN. I have worked in management as well as bedside nursing. The management aspect has taken the hands on compassion away where patients have lacked the attention they need. Honestly it all should come from the heart whether ADN, BSN, or DNP and studied statistics should focus on other nursing aspects that ACTUALLY matter.

  4. mapossum

    As a Diploma grad, I’ve seen quite a few new BSN grads come thru the ranks. Many have to be taught how to do manual blood pressures and “basic” care of nursing. They know a lot about chemistry or biology but not a lot about people. I remember a patient where the BSN was really upset because his heart rate dropped down into the upper 40’s-low 50’s from an average of 75. I explained this was not uncommon at…2am….and to go bump something in the room to slightly waken the pt. They did and the heart rate increased with waking. It was common sense but not something the BSN’s were taught to have.

  5. tvnurse

    How do courses in topics other than medicine affect Nurse competency?
    I hired hundreds of Nurses and found the Diploma Nurses Most effective without an internship to learn care.
    What was the other staff comprised of?
    This is unbelievable to me and an insult

    • xandergran

      I think that diploma RNs are exposed to patient care so early in their education and this weeds out many that aren’t suited to “hands on”.

  6. xandergran

    I am a diploma grad with 30 yrs experience. I have found that the individual rather than the education is what makes a good nurse. I would rather have a nurse that says ” I don’t know, let me find out” than someone that tries to fake it and risks the patient’s comfort or life. I have worked with nursing assistants and LPNs that I would rather have care for me than a masters prepared that has no common sense or compassion. Experience often means a better RN but then you have to be cautious of the burned out nurse or even the newbie that is there for the money and really doesn’t like what they are doing. I don’t agree with this study. I have found studies often reflect what they are intended to.