Research report

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends “that nursing strive for a workforce compromised of 80 percent baccalaureate prepared registered nurses by 2020 and that nurses engage in lifelong learning. However, only 50 percent of the current RN workforce is prepared with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or graduate degree” (Altmann, 2012). So, why is that? What are nurse’s attitudes on continuing education?

As many hospitals strive to receive a magnet status, it’s important that we understand nurse’s attitudes towards continuing education. In doing so, we can then find a way to entice and encourage nurses to further their education. Research have found that nurses who have higher education have an positive influence on “1. patient safety and lower rates of patient morbidity and mortality, 2. lower levels of medication errors and procedural violations, and 3. fewer disciplinary actions for BSN’s” (Altmann, 2012).

A study conducted by Altmann (2012), was done to look at the attitudes of nurses. This was an exploratory, comparative, descriptive study that used mailed questionnaires to survey a random sample of active licensed nurses educated below the BSN level. They chose 3 states (California, New jersey, and Pennsylvania), all of which have the highest proportion of diploma and ADN programs in the country. They mailed 1350 questionnaires to California RN’s, 482 to New jersey and 868 to Pennsylvania. Two instruments were used to identify the attitudes of nurses. This included the 19 item attitude towards BSN education scale (ATBSNS) and a socio-demographic questionnaire.

The results showed a response rate of 33.9 percent, however only 19.8 percent of the questionnaires were appropriate for analysis. The initial education level of the nurses consisted of 69.6 percent ADN and 21.8 percent diploma. In this study, only 26.3 percent was interested in returning for further education. Some of the “top reasons or not pursuing higher education included: too old, won’t earn more money, and not needed to give good care” (Altmann, 2012). The last reason contradicts the reason for this research and its possible that nurses are unaware or do not believe current research. 52.4 percent of the respondent reported being encourage to continue their education, while 79.6 percent did not feel social pressure to obtain a BSN degree. Those who felt pressured into getting a higher degree said it would be “effective if accompanied by flexible schedules, better tuition reimbursement, financial rewards and recognition” (Altmann, 2012). When it came to continuing education ADN nurses held more positive attitudes on continuing education than diploma nurses. As for continuing education, those who returned to school had positive attitude than those who did not.

This study was well planned in order to find out the attitudes of nurses. As a nurse, with a associates degree, I personally believe that its important for nurses to get a baccalaureate degree and continue education. As medical knowledge and technology evolves and becomes complex, nurses need to grow and expand their mind. A way we can continue that is by continuing education. I also believe that employers and professor should promote this and use evidence based practice to support their beliefs. Like mentioned in the article, “quality in health care is a priority”(Altmann, 2012) and being that its priority, we have to recognize barriers and promote nurses to continue education.

Altmann, T. K. (2012). Nurses’ Attitudes Toward Continuing Formal Education: A Comparison by Level of Education and Geography. Nursing Education Perspectives, 33(2), 80-84. doi:10.5480/1536-5026-33.2.80

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