Anna Marie Luzar, nurse director of St. Vincent Charity Medical Center's Spine and Orthopedic unit, decided in 2011 that she was ready to return to school to get her bachelor of science in nursing.
When explaining why, Luzar proudly reads from what she wrote for school about her return: “There is much I do not know, have not taken into consideration or addressed from nursing school 30 years ago. It is the right time physically and emotionally in my personal life to commit to a program to learn what I do not know.”
Luzar, who received her BSN in 2014 from Ohio University, is one of many nurses taking advantage of RN-to-BSN programs across the region and country that have been cropping up to help registered nurses with diploma or associate degrees take the next step in their education as hospitals increasingly expect higher skill levels.
“The hospitals at least in our area aren't hiring the associate degree prepared nurses, or they would prefer to have a BSN,” said Linda Linc, dean of the Byers School of Nursing at Walsh University in North Canton. “So you're seeing more individuals going right into a BSN program, and there are a lot of them in Northeast Ohio.”
Many Northeast Ohio health systems are looking only to hire nurses with a BSN. Those with an associate's degrees are often asked to sign a contract that they'll get their BSN within a certain timeframe after employment.
Following a 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine, health care providers across the country pushed forward initiatives to get more of their nurses baccalaureate-trained. “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” recommended that 80% of the nursing workforce have a BSN by 2020. The report stated that the health care system doesn't provide sufficient incentives for nurses to further their education and get additional training.
“Everyone has taken that very seriously, knowing that health care reform requires nurses to be front and centered and that they need to be well-educated,” said Joan Kavanagh, associate chief nursing officer for the Office of Nursing Education and Professional Development at Cleveland Clinic.
Patricia Sharpnack, dean of the Breen School of Nursing at Ursuline College, said she's seeing an uptick in the number of students looking to complete their BSN
“Initially there wasn't as great of a push by the hospitals or the acute care agencies to really mandate this,” she said.