Most people regard nurses as health professionals who care for patients in hospitals. But with the Affordable Care Act bringing 30 million more people into our healthcare system, its success heavily depends on keeping people out of hospitals, or at least from returning to them. That will require more clinical nurses with higher levels of education, skill and management expertise — and fast.
As they retire, baby-boomer nurses are leaving a growing vacuum. Yet, a lack of faculty and resources force nursing schools to turn away thousands of qualified applicants nationally and hundreds in the San Francisco Bay Area. At the same time, hospitals recognize the necessity to employ nurses with baccalaureate or masters degrees able to adapt to a far more complex health care delivery system, as well as a future patient base requiring more sophisticated treatment. According to the Institute of Medicine, Future of Nursing (2011), it is recommended that at least 80 percent of nurses possess baccalaureate or masters degrees by 2020.
The biggest and most obvious need for more highly educated nurses is to improve patient outcomes. Higher demand from the newly insured and tighter restrictions from Medicare, which now penalizes hospitals for readmissions that occur from the same condition, within 30 days of discharge, also contributes to the need for nurses with a higher degree of training.
We, as health care educators, are meeting the challenge. Touro University California is adding a School of Nursing that provides a bridge for ambitious, talented and dedicated nurses to quickly advance their careers to meet the growing demand for nurses with advanced degrees. Touro’s program is designed for working registered nurses, opening career paths to masters degrees in nursing. Touro is one of only 30 nursing schools in the nation offering this kind of program that provides a path from an associates degree to a masters degree in nursing.
The end result – advancing nursing education — will be a life saver, far beyond helping make affordable health care a reality for all.
Our first cohort at the Touro University California School of Nursing starts August 1st. We’ll be preparing a new generation of transformational nurses for the next generation of health care.