Is a BSN a requirement to work in a hospital?

Patient care has become more complex, and high tech, and responsibilities of nurses are increasingly diversified. The RNs role has expanded from bedside nursing to inclusion on interdisciplinary teams that include physicians, pharmacists, therapists, etc. Addressing complex health care needs requires critical thinking and problem solving skills as wells as strong communication and assessment skills. These skills are taught in BSN programs.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

The ANCC is a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA). The ANCC reports that its’ mission is to “promote excellence in nursing and health care…” See Nurse Credentialing for more information. The ANCC Magnet Recognition program, recognizes healthcare organizations that consistently provide, quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovative nursing practice. Magnet designation is a primary indicator used to assess the level of competency of hospitals and to rank the best medical centers in specified specialties. (There is also a National Magnet Nurse of the Year award).

The Magnet Recognition Program

According to the ANCC, the goals and principles of the Magnet Recognition Program are designed to advocate and advance superior nursing services. For an organization to obtain magnate status, the quality of care given must meet the nursing practice standards and quality determined by the ANA. Magnet designation of a hospital indicates that particular hospital delivers patient care with a high degree of safety, quality and efficiency, and is staffed with highly trained nurses that are in leadership positions “that allow them substantial input on patient safety issues.”


As health care shifts away from hospital-centered, inpatient treatment to other locations such as outpatient clinics, public health centers and private homes, the RN is required to make clinical decisions and manage patients in multiple settings, and to focus more on preventive services. Also, the patients that are hospitalized require more acute and specialized care, and more coordination and communication about that care. Diploma and associate degree nursing programs do not provide the amount of training that baccalaureate degree training provides to meet the diversity in health care. Because of these facts, as well as other facts, the American Association of Colleges and Nursing (AACN) recognized the BSN degree as the minimum educational requirement for a professional nurse. The National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP) reports that the baccalaureate education provides a broader and stronger curriculum that best meets today’s patient care requirements.  Click here to learn more about “Nurses: How they do it“.


More hospitals are requiring the nurses that they hire to have BSN degrees, or they have BSN-preferred policies. Some hospitals are requiring that the nurses currently on staff obtain a bachelor’s degree within a given time frame. The AACN, through its’ Magnet Recognition Program structure also encourages and promotes the professional growth of nurses. The benefits of Magnet designation for hospitals include attracting and retaining quality personnel and improved patient care and satisfaction.
The RNs scope of practice requires the capacity to adapt to change, critical thinking and problem solving skills, knowledge of behavioral, social and management sciences, and the ability to analyze and effectively communicate data. In order to continue improving the quality of care that patients receive in hospitals (as well as in other settings), the indications are that, in the near future, all nurses working in hospitals will be required to have a BSN degree.