A new policy brief by the American Association of Community Colleges explores the nuanced issue of supplying the nation’s nursing workforce. Its conclusion: “… the nation depends on the successes of both associate and bachelor’s-level schools of nursing, because they contribute individually to collectively building a strong nursing workforce.”
The brief is a rebuttal to a report by the Institute of Medicine, which recommended pushing bachelor’s-level nursing programs to become the norm (80% of all RN programs) by 2020. AACC’s brief, co-authored by Roxanne Fulcher and Christopher M. Mullin, points to data showing that the majority of new RNs are educated at the associate’s level (ADN) and employers are equally likely to hire ADN- and BSN-prepared nurses.
The following chart shows roughly 60% of first-time test takers of the national nursing licensing exam (NCLEX) are associate’s-degree holders.
Last year we explored the national and state-by-state nursing pipeline (see here and here). Associate’s-level programs, we showed, have been on the rise as colleges have worked to address the shortage that became a national issue in the late 1990s/early 2000s. In 2009, for completers of Nursing/Registered Nursing (RN, ASN, BSN, MSN), nearly 52% (83,737) came from two-year or less programs. The remaining 78,764 came at the bachelor’s level.