Reply To: BSN a must?

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We have four nurses in my family: my sister is an RN from a diploma school with 30 years experience, my niece just earned her MSN and is a NP specializing in geriatrics, my cousin is a MSN teaching at the University level for 40+ years and just retired, and I earned my BSN at age 43 five years ago. One of my daughters is considering nursing for a career and I told her that she should consider no less than a BSN, because so many institutions are trying to qualify for magnet status. My sister is really feeling the push to go back to school and get her BSN (let alone her ADN) from administration at her hospital and she can run rings around me with the experience she has. She worked on the floor my dad was admitted to when he died and I know she kept a good eye on whoever was caring for him. My goal is to go back and get my MSN-FNP in the next 5 years because my earning power will almost double for only two- 1/2 more years of school and I can pretty much make my own schedule.

I was speaking with other nurses on my unit (I’m one of only four BSN’s) and none of the RN’s have any desire to return to school because there’s virtually no pay differential; two LPN’s are studying toward their BSN. My cousin who is a university prof says she retired because the University stated a new policy: they require a PhD to lecture and those with a MSN “may” qualify to teach clinicals. I’ve looked at other universities and they’re also making that same transition. I guess that those 40+ years of experience don’t matter to Universities either – they want to impress those tuition-paying parents of all the degrees their professors hold…

I’ve found that the RN’s I’ve worked with have much more hands-on experience doing things than I have, but they’ve also been nurses longer than I have. I have more experience with pharmacology and pathophysiology of diseases than do my RN counterparts. When a doctor mentioned something to me about taking BP on a 2-month old baby with an ear tag the other day I said “oh, yeah – sorry, I didn’t even think of that. Sorry I missed it! I’ll do that right now.” (I work in a pediatric outpatient clinic.) The other nurses looked at me like we were speaking Greek until I said “his kidneys.” One nurse still had a blank look on her face and I said “the ears and kidneys are growing the same time in utero. If there’s a malpresentation with the ears, it’s important to check that the kidneys are functioning properly. That’s why he wants to make sure the baby’s BP isn’t elevated.” She’s been an LPN probably 25 years. A different LPN covers her name tag with a sticker so it appears to say “RN”. Our supervisor knows – and sees this on a daily basis – but chooses not to address it.

We’re all nurses working together for the good of the patients. That’s what we need to concentrate on – not the alphabet soup after our name. If we do things like work together and share the knowledge we learn reading journals or going to conferences that helps to save lives, does it really matter what degree we have?

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