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Study Shows That Bachelor's-Prepared Nurses Improve Patient Outcomes

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Posted: Monday, April 21, 2014 7:55 am | Updated: 1:32 am, Tue Apr 22, 2014.

(NewsUSA) - Findings from a recent international study in The Lancet came as no surprise to Dr. Phyllis Marshall, dean of the W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing.

The study, "Nurse Staffing and Education and Hospital Mortality in Nine European Countries: A Retrospective Observational Study," affirmed what many nurse educators have known for years: better-educated nurses result in better patient outcomes.

"As nurse educators in an increasingly complex health care delivery system, we have known for a long time that the education level of professional nurses is inexorably linked to patient outcomes," said Marshall. "The growth of our own Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program reflects emerging mandates in the field that support this study's findings and many others like it."

Results from the study, which appeared in the Feb. 26 issue of The Lancet, coincide with trends that Marshall has seen in the field of nursing, especially in the area of nurse recruitment at hospitals and health care organizations throughout the country who have shown an increasing focus on hiring nurses who possess a BSN degree.

Marshall said many employers are also encouraging their nurses to earn graduate degrees to prepare and qualify them for leadership positions in the field.

At Thomas Edison State College, Marshall said the hospitals where many of her students work are already recognized under the Magnet Recognition Program. Awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), Magnet designation ensures that an organization is setting rigorous benchmarks in quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovation in professional nursing practice. In pursuit of this designation, many organizations are requiring that increasing percentages of their nursing staff possess a bachelor's degree or higher.

The Lancet study, which was led by Dr. Linda Aiken of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, found that 420,000 patients across nine European countries experienced significantly lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates in hospitals with higher proportions of baccalaureate-prepared nurses. Furthermore, the study's authors found that for every 10 percent increase in nurses with bachelor's degrees in a health care setting, the likelihood of patient mortality dropped by 7 percent.

"The study provides further evidence of the explicit relationship between the percentage of BSN-prepared nurses to patient recovery," said Marshall.

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