Statewide and National Nursing Organizations Advocate for BS in 10

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Nurses Seek to Prepare Profession for the Future

Statewide and National Nursing Organizations Advocate for BS in 10 

Albany, NY, April 28, 2015 – From the threat of worldwide epidemics, like Ebola, to the new emphasis on preventive/primary care and population health, nurses are providing care in increasingly diverse settings and situations. As health care continues to grow in complexity, statewide nursing organizations are advocating for changes in nursing education designed to ensure that professional, registered nurses are leaders in providing quality patient care and helping to improve the overall health care system.

 Members and leaders of the Coalition for Advancement of Nursing Education (CANE), New York Organization of Nurse Executives and Leaders (NYONEL) and the American Nurses Association - New York (ANA-NY) will hold a lobby day on April 28 in Albany to encourage legislators to support a bill that would require newly licensed nurses in NYS to earn a bachelor’s degree within 10 years after initial licensure. It would not apply to nurses already licensed in NYS or those in nursing schools in the state at the time the bill is passed.

The statewide nursing groups will be joined by Debbie Dawson Hatmaker, PhD, RN, FAAN, Executive Director of the American Nurses Association. Hatmaker has a strong background in nursing education and professional development. In addition to serving on the faculty of the Medical College of Georgia School of Nursing for 16 years, she also previously managed the Southern Performance Assessment Center for the Excelsior College School of Nursing’s external degree program.

“Requiring new nurses to get a bachelor’s degree within 10 years after licensure is a significant change for the profession, but it is one that positions us to address the growing nurse shortage, will prepare future nurses for changing technology and increased complexity in health care practice, decrease the incidence of complications and unnecessary deaths, and position nurses for continued leadership roles in health care policy,” Hatmaker said.

Currently, registered nurses (RNs) enter the profession by passing the NCLEX licensing exam after completing either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree. Though New York is leading the charge, the move to increase educational standards is happening across the United States and across healthcare professions.

“We want to preserve the diversity of ways people can come into the nursing profession, giving new nurses the opportunity to work and gain experience in the field while they are finishing their baccalaureate coursework,” said Elizabeth "Betty" Mahoney, EdD, RN, President of ANA-NY. “We understand how challenging working, going to school and having a life can be, along with the new educational requirements. We are working to make sure nurses have the resources and support necessary to continue their education.”

“We hope that completing the bachelor’s degree will spark interest in pursuing advanced degrees that can lead to careers in nursing education, advanced practice nursing, population-focused health, nursing research, nursing informatics, and a wide range of other specialty fields,” Mahoney said.

The movement to increase nurses’ baseline education is in alignment with the findings of the Institute of Medicine (IOM)’s 2010 report The Future of Nursing, which supports enhancing and ensuring nurses’ increased autonomy, professionalism and expertise. The report calls for significantly increasing the number of nurses with baccalaureate and higher degrees, recommending that the profession aim to double the number of nurses with doctorates by 2020.

“New York is poised to be a leader in making sure nurses have the broad, supportive education necessary to creatively adapt to the changing healthcare environment,” said Barbara Zittel, Ph.D., RN, speaking on behalf of CANE. “We believe that increasing the number of nurses with baccalaureate and advanced degrees is beneficial for patient care, and, ultimately, will help reduce the shortage of nurses by creating more nurse educators.” She notes that currently one of the major barriers for educating future nurses is that there are too few qualified nurse educators.

A version of the bill (now A03945 and S02145) passed the New York State Assembly last year. The push this year is to make sure legislators understand the critical and unique roles nurses  perform  in health care and why they will increasingly need to be educated at the bachelor’s degree level and beyond to meet the ever challenging needs of patients.

“Though we encourage and support current RNs in advancing their education, this is really about the next generation of nurses and what they will need to know. As people live longer and science and technology continue to evolve, health care will only become more complex. The value of the bachelor’s degree in nursing is its approach to learning and critical thinking that prepares nurses to adapt to the next new health care challenge and the new one after that,” said Claire Murray, MS, RN, Executive Director of NYONEL.


The Coalition for Advancement of Nursing Education (CANE) brings together nursing and healthcare organizations and educational leaders in New York state to support legislation to create a new standard for continued registered nurse (RN) licensure, by requiring that RNs earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing within ten years of initial licensure.

The New York Organization of Nurse Executives and Leaders represents the integrated voice of nursing leaders who are intent on shaping the future of nursing and healthcare in the state, and is the New York affiliate of the American Organization of Nurse Executives. The mission is to promote excellence in nursing through transformational leadership with the vision of being recognized as a catalyst for collaborative and innovative nursing leadership in our state.

ANA-New York, the state constituent of the American Nurses Association, is the professional association for registered nurses in the state. ANA-New York is dedicated to promoting excellence in nursing practice, seeks to improve the quality of health care services, and promotes professional and leadership development of registered nurses. Learn more at