There is no doubt that it is difficult to sit down at a hospital board or staff meeting and have a discussion on quality of nursing care without the term “Magnet Status” being mentioned. This is not a recent trend in the health care industry. Magnet Status has been a goal of health care organizations for over two decades. In 1990 the American Nurses Association (ANA) approved the Magnet Hospital Recognition Program by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The University of Washington Medical Center was the first organization to earn the prestigious title. As of 2012, 6.74 percent of all registered hospitals in the United States have achieved the recognition.
According to the ANCC, organizations that have achieved Magnet Recognition have RNs with higher levels of job satisfaction and lower turnover. This saves the organization money in recruitment costs. There are also numerous studies suggesting that organizations with higher percentages of BSN RNs have improved clinical outcomes, lower nosocomial (hospital acquired) infections and higher patient satisfaction with shorter hospital stays.
Despite this push for BSN entry-level RNs, associate degree RN programs account for over 60 percent of all RN programs in the United States. With the majority of RNs entering the work force at the associate degree level, the United States has seen a swell in RN to BSN programs being offered. These programs are offered in a variety of different delivery methods including on-site (traditional), on-line and hybrid programs. Hospitals seeking Magnet Recognition are more likely to help their RN staff with tuition costs associated with earning their BSN degree. However, many hospitals provide tuition assistance regardless because they recognize and value the benefits of having RNs with the BSN degree.
Becoming a registered nurse by earning an associate degree in nursing and returning to school for the BSN has become an acceptable and realistic approach to entering the nursing profession. Earning the BSN degree while working as an RN provides both experience and a comfortable income while in school. Additionally, it has become even more convenient in the past decade with on-line programs that allow working RNs to go back to school and take courses in an asynchronous teaching/learning environment.