WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 The Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is pleased to announce that the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) has been awarded the 2007 BSN Champion Award. This top honor was created to recognize organizations and practice settings that place a high value on registered nurses (RNs) prepared in Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree programs. UHC, an alliance of 97 academic health centers and 153 affiliated hospitals, was selected for their commitment to supporting BSN-prepared nurses and furthering the professional development of these RNs.
"AACN has been a leading advocate for preparing a highly educated nursing workforce and for improving patient care through education," said AACN President Jeanette Lancaster. "We are pleased to be joined in this important work by the University HealthSystem Consortium whose members have shown continuous support for baccalaureate-prepared nurses through their research, publications, and recruitment preference."
In February 2001, two UHC staff members and four chief nursing officers collaborated on an article titled "Documenting Chief Nursing Officers' Preferences for BSN-Prepared Nurses" which was published in the Journal of Nursing Administration. The authors found that 71% of CNOs at UHC facilities perceived a difference in practice between baccalaureate and associate degree-prepared nurses, particularly related to critical thinking skills. The majority of CNOs called for recruiting more BSN-prepared nurses to work in academic health centers.
Following that publication, AACN formed a strategic partnership with the UHC out of a mutual desire to create a better educated RN workforce. The partnership is focused on two objectives: 1) expanding capacity in BSN programs and 2) developing a post-baccalaureate residency program. The first objective was met in 2003 with the release of a joint UHC-AACN white paper titled Building Capacity through University Hospital and University School of Nursing Partnerships. In this document, the authors address how to structure an education-practice partnership to expand baccalaureate student capacity at schools of nursing.
To meet the second objective, AACN continues its work with the UHC on a national post-baccalaureate residency project. This program was designed to enhance the student's transition to practicing nurse and to increase the retention rate of new nurses. To date, 36 partnerships in 24 states have been established by AACN and UHC members to offer the residency. Evaluation data show a dramatic decline in turnover rates and an increase in job satisfaction rates among residency graduates. The turnover rate of new graduates who have completed the residency in 2006 is 9.7% compared with the national average of 27.1% as reported by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
"Nurse executives with the UHC clearly understand the link between baccalaureate nursing education and quality patient care," said Dr. Lancaster. "This organization's ongoing support for BSN-nurses echoes the calls from government authorities, national nursing organizations, health care foundations, Magnet hospitals, and minority nurse advocacy groups for a more highly educated nursing workforce."
AACN presented the 2007 BSN Champion Award to UHC Senior Vice President Roberta Graham and Director of Operational Benchmarking and Nursing Leadership Cathy Krsek at its Fall Semiannual Meeting on Sunday, October 28. For more information about the UHC, see http://www.uhc.edu.
Creating a More Highly Qualified Nursing Workforce
The National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice, policy advisors to Congress and the Secretary for Health and Human Services on nursing issues, have urged that at least two-thirds of the nurse workforce hold baccalaureate or higher degre