South Carolina nurses have their work cut out for them. The state's hospitals aim to meet the Institute of Medicine's recommendation that 80 percent of direct care nurses hold bachelor degrees by 2020, according to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.
But each hospital plans to take a different path to meet the guideline.
For example, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System announced 397 of its nurses with associate degrees would have to attain a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) by 2018 or face termination, according to the article.
Bon Secours Roper St. Francis Hospital won't require current staff to get BSN degrees, however going forward, 75 percent of its new nurse hires will have BSNs, according to the article. New hires that don't have their BSN must sign a contract that states they will obtain the degree within five years of their hire date.
Spartanburg Regional will offer financial assistance for tuition to all full- and part-time employees who've worked for the system for at least one year, according to the article, with full-time nurses eligible for $4,000 a year and part-time nurses authorized to receive $2,000 in reimbursements per year.
Despite the added financial stress and extra workload that their employees will take on to earn the degrees, hospital leaders interviewed by the Herald-Journal stand by the higher education requirement because they said it's best for patient care. "As CNO, it's my job and responsibility to make sure that our patient care is absolutely the best it possibly can be," Spartanburg Regional's Chief Nursing Officer Susan Duggar said when the policy was announced in October. "Wouldn't you want to be cared for by somebody who has all the educational preparation possible?"
As of now, 38.7 percent of nurses have an associate's degree and 37.6 percent have a bachelor's degree, according to Norwich University's Online Master of Science in Nursing Program, FierceHealthcare previously reported. An American Association of Colleges of Nursing survey of 515 deans and directors from U.S. nursing schools found that 78.6 percent of healthcare employers now express a strong preference for BSN program graduates. Furthermore, four to six months after graduation, 89 percent of new graduates who hold bachelor degrees had secured employment in nursing.
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