Professionalism – Narrative paper

Nursing has the unique distinction among health professions to have multiple entry points into practice.  The Institute of Medicine’s 2011 The Future of Nursing report implored a goal of having 80% of RNs to have a BSN by 2020.  We did not make that goal and encouraging higher education of nursing remains a national priority. 

For this assignment, consider why this goal was not reached

Present background on why this goal was important to nursing as a profession.  What are the barriers/challenges and incentives/supportive measures to encourage BSN completion?  You can include your own decision to pursue a BSN as a basis for your thoughts. 

Submit a two page narrative explaining your thoughts.  Remember that any stated fact or statistic requires an in-text citation and a reference to acknowledge the source of your information.  This paper should be at least one but no more than two pages, double spaced, with appropriate APA 7th edition formatting.  You can use first person, but are encouraged to use third person. Please use the rubric to guide your writing and make sure all criteria is met.


Nursing is a unique profession with multiple entry points into practice. Nurses can earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), or a master of science in nursing (MSN). The Institute of Medicine’s 2011 report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, recommended that 80% of RNs have a BSN by 2020 (Institute of Medicine, 2021). This target was not met, although increasing higher nursing education remains a national priority. In this paper, I will explore the reasons behind the failure to reach this goal while highlighting the barriers and incentives to encourage BSN completion.

Importance of the 80% BSN Goal

The IOM’s call for 80% of RNs to possess a BSN by 2020 was grounded in the belief that higher education in nursing improves patient outcomes, strengthens critical thinking skills, promotes evidence-based practice, and fosters leadership abilities. According to Wood (2019), a BSN curriculum contains a broader understanding of healthcare, including research, community health, leadership, and ethics. Achieving this goal would have elevated the nursing profession, enhanced its credibility, and enabled nurses to function effectively within complex healthcare systems.

Barriers and Challenges:

Nursing faces several barriers and challenges in increasing the number of BSN degree holders that threaten to reach the desired 80% goal. One significant challenge arises from several entry points into practice, such as associate degree and diploma programs, which offer accessible pathways to becoming a registered nurse (RN) but lack the comprehensive coursework of BSN programs (Iheduru‐Anderson, 2020). Additionally, financial constraints pose a significant barrier, as the costs of tuition fees, books, and potential reduction in work hours create financial burdens, particularly for RNs with families or other financial obligations. This financial strain discourages many nurses from pursuing BSN programs. Furthermore, time constraints present another barrier, as nurses often work long hours, including rotating shifts and overtime, leaving limited time and energy for educational commitments.

Incentives and Supportive Measures

Several strategies can be used to encourage nurses to pursue BSN education. First, offering financial support such as tuition reimbursement, scholarships, or loan forgiveness programs can alleviate the financial burden on RNs (Institute of Medicine, 2021). Secondly, implementing flexible work schedules and accommodating reduced work hours during BSN education can help nurses manage their professional and academic commitments. Time-off policies that support continuing education can also be beneficial. Lastly, educational partnerships between nursing schools and healthcare organizations can create seamless transition pathways for ADN and diploma-prepared nurses to obtain their BSN degrees more efficiently.

Personal Reflection

I pursued a BSN to enhance my nursing knowledge and professional growth. The BSN program gave me a broader understanding of healthcare, research skills, and leadership abilities that directly influence my practice. Recognizing the value of higher education, I have been fortunate to receive financial support from my employer through tuition reimbursement programs. Also, flexible scheduling arrangements have effectively allowed me to balance work and academic responsibilities.


Increasing the number of BSN degree holders has the potential to strengthen the nursing profession and improve patient outcomes. Although a variety of barriers make this goal difficult to achieve, proactive measures, such as providing financial support, flexible work schedules, and educational partnerships, can help to make the goal more achievable. As nurses, it is important for us to recognize the value of higher education and encourage each other to pursue career growth opportunities, such as BSN education, to continue making a positive impact in the nursing field.



Iheduru‐Anderson, K. (2020). Barriers to career advancement in nursing: Perceptions of black nurses in the United States. Nursing Forum, 55(4).

Institute of Medicine. (2021). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. PubMed.

Wood, R. (2019). Transforming education.; National Academies Press (US).

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