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Fact Sheet: Creating a More Highly Qualified Nursing Workforce
Quality patient care hinges on having a well educated nursing workforce. Research has shown that lower mortality rates, fewer medication errors, and positive outcomes are all linked to nurses prepared at the baccalaureate and graduate degree levels. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is committed to working collaboratively to create a more highly qualified nursing workforce since education enhances both clinical competency and care delivery. This fact sheet looks at today’s nursing workforce; highlights research connecting education to outcomes; and outlines the capacity of four-year colleges to enhance the level of nursing education in the U.S.
Snapshot of Today’s Nursing Workforce According to the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses conducted by the Health
Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), nursing is the nation's largest health care profession with more than 3 million registered nurses (RNs) nationwide. Of all licensed RNs, 2.6 million or 84.8% are employed in nursing.
The sample survey also shows that 50.0% of the RN workforce holds a baccalaureate or graduate degree while 36.1% earned an associate degree and 13.9% a diploma in nursing. Graduates of entry-level nursing programs (baccalaureate degree, associate degree and diploma) sit for the NCLEX-RN© licensing examination. The fact that new nurses pass the licensing exam at the same rate does not mean that all entry-level nurses are equally prepared for practice. The NCLEX tests for minimum technical competency for safe entry into basic nursing practice. Passing rates should be high across all programs preparing new nurses. This exam does not test for differences between graduates of different programs, measure…...