The availability of various pathways to becoming a registered nurse is definitely a positive factor, and one can argue that it contributes to the improvement of care quality. All of the mentioned educational pathways – the bachelor’s degree of science in nursing (BSN); the associate’s degree in nursing (ADN); the diploma in nursing; and accelerated, second-degree bachelor’s programs – meet the basic requirements and standards of competency established by licensing bodies in order to protect the public. Therefore, by completing either of them, a nurse is expected to have a set of core skills needed to perform their professional duties effectively.
In addition, it is valid to say that the variety of educational programs helps to address the problem of workforce shortage by attracting a greater number of individuals from diverse backgrounds into the profession. As research evidence summarized by Haddad and Toney-Butler indicates, nursing shortages and inadequate staffing increase the likelihood of medical errors and result in increased patient morbidity and mortality. It is clear that by providing more opportunities for people interested in nursing to graduate and get a license, the problem of nursing shortages can be resolved at least partially.
It is still worth noticing that the BSN degree provides more advantages for specialists in terms of professional development. As mentioned by Anbari, “BSNs are consistently associated with improved patient outcomes” compared to ADNs. One of the main reasons for such an outcome may be that BSN programs usually have a greater number of clinical training hours, cover a broader range of knowledge areas, and offer an environment for more rigorous learning. However, I do not think that the BSN should become an entry-level nursing practice because of the discussed problem with staff shortages. At the same time, practicing nurses should be encouraged to engage in education at higher levels in order to become more competent and benefit their profession and patients.