Career Advancement In Nursing Education

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How Education Help In Advancing Nursing Career

Career Advancement In Nursing Education

Advancing Nursing Careers By Educational Level,Nursing Courses or Degrees Worldwide,Continuing Education In Nursing,Advantages and Disadvantages of Mobility Programs,Accreditation in Nursing Education.

Advancing Nursing Careers By Educational Level

  Deepening one's knowledge base and understanding of nursing as well as advancing one's nursing career often occur through mobility programs. Mobility programs (also known as educational mobility or career ladder programs) enable individuals to enter the nursing profession from different educational points or pursue professional career development through additional academic preparation without losing credits from previous degree work. This additional academic preparation often involves articulating or making a transition from one nursing degree to another, more advanced nursing degree. 

Nursing Courses or Degrees Worldwide

    There are LPN to RN, RN to BSN, RN to MSN, and even BSN to PhD mobility programs to name a few of the educational mobility options that are available in nursing. The RN to BSN or RN to MSN degree programs enable RNs who hold a diploma in nursing or an ADN (ASN) degree to return to school to pursue either a BSN or an MSN degree and receive credit for their previous coursework and possibly their work experience . There are also programs for those individuals who hold previous non-nursing baccalaureate degrees that enable them to complete a BSN in an accelerated time frame, usually within 12–18 months. 

    These are commonly referred to as second degree, fast track, or accelerated nursing programs. Accelerated programs for those individuals with previous non-nursing baccalaureate degrees who wish to receive a generic master's degree in nursing also exist. The commonality in all of these mobility options is that they enable the learner to achieve the advanced degree in a timely manner by recognizing and giving credit for previous academic accomplishments and frequently allowing the learner to prepare a portfolio documenting work experiences that can also be evaluated for potential academic credit.

Continuing Education In Nursing 

    Advancing one's nursing practice can also occur through continuing education programs that result in specialized credentials, certifications, or continuing education credits. For example, nurses can obtain additional education to become certified in diabetes education, critical care, or wound and ostomy care. They can also obtain continuing education by attending conferences or completing online courses or independent studies on particular topics relevant to their area of practice. 

    Supporting Mobility Programs Mobility programs have a long history in nursing education and, in recent years, many of these programs have grown due to progress in distance education technologies, making the acquisition of advanced education more accessible. These programs have also flourished under pressure from various nursing organizations to promote baccalaureate and higher degrees in nursing. 

    For example, in 1991 the National League for Nursing issued a position statement urging schools of nursing to coordinate articulation from one degree to another. They promoted the idea that schools should develop fair and equitable policies that allow students who have received credits for prior learning to transfer credits from one school of nursing to another. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing issued a similar position statement in 1998. The feasibility of these statements has increased in part because of governmental support, specifically Title II of the Nurse Reinvestment Act of 2002. 

    This legislation funded mobility programs in a variety of ways to retain qualified nurses and to combat the nursing shortage. Efforts to support mobility programs have resulted in many different degree articulation models. Some of these models are state mandated whereas others are voluntary. For example, some states have legislation in place mandating academic credit transfer from associate degree nursing programs to baccalaureate degree programs (AACN, 2006a). 

    This model prevents graduates of associate degree nursing programs from encountering barriers to degree advancement, which can occur if baccalaureate programs do not accept academic credits from associate degree nursing programs. Voluntary programs, on the other hand, also exist to streamline the process of advancing from one degree to another. Some of these articulation programs are statewide initiatives (AACN), whereas others are agreements that exist between schools or within healthcare institutions (Eckhardt & Froehlich, 2004).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Mobility Programs

    Regardless of the mobility options available, those considering a nursing career must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of mobility programs. On one hand they offer students flexible and dynamic options for advancing nursing careers. They are also often affordable and accessible and can expedite particular nursing degrees. For instance, students who wish to start their nursing career as an associate degree–prepared registered nurse can attend a community college. 

    Once they decide to pursue a baccalaureate degree, they can continue working as an RN and complete an online baccalaureate completion program or a program at a nearby college or university. Or they may decide to pursue a master's degree in nursing and opt to enroll in an RN-MSN program. Possible disadvantages of mobility options can include, but are not limited to, increased time commitments to complete coursework, problems with transferring credits from school to school and gaining credit for prior learning, and risks associated with returning to school when one is faced with competing demands . 

    For example, students who complete an associate degree program in 2 years and then return to school for a baccalaureate degree may return to school and struggle through completing this degree on a part-time basis. Career and family commitments and demands may mean it takes longer to complete a baccalaureate degree than if pursuing the baccalaureate degree to begin with. These students may also encounter barriers in transferring credits and may need to show evidence of prior learning that can count toward their baccalaureate degree. 

    Regardless of the mobility program a student chooses, the likelihood of his or her success within it depends on the school's willingness to develop flexible and creative curricula (Boland & Finke, 2005). In response to the need for nurses prepared with baccalaureate and higher degrees, many schools of nursing are indeed designing flexible curricula and delivery methods that can accommodate learners returning to school to pursue nursing degrees.

Accreditation in Nursing Education

    Accreditation is a process by which an institution's (eg, school of nursing's) programs, policies, and practices are reviewed by an external accrediting body to determine whether professional standards are being met. Accreditation can also be considered to be a means of fostering continuous quality improvement in programs as the faculty also participate in the process to review and reflect upon all aspects of their program, with the goal of maintaining and improving quality. Schools of nursing are accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) and/or the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). 

    Both NLNAC and CCNE are approved by the US Department of Education. The NLNAC accredits all nursing programs, whereas the CCNE limits it accreditation to BSN and MSN programs, and will eventually accredit DNP programs. Participation in the accreditation process of either NLNAC or CCNE is essentially a voluntary activity that schools undertake for the professional and public acknowledgment of the quality of their programs. 

    Although accreditation by NLNAC or CCNE is a voluntary activity, it is an extremely meaningful one to the school and its students, because in some cases students can be denied access to scholarships/grants or admission to graduate programs if they are not enrolled in or graduates of a professionally accredited school. In addition to nursing's professional accrediting bodies, all schools of nursing are required to be accredited by the appropriate state board of nursing. Rules and regulations governing the operation and curricula of schools of nursing can be found in state board of nursing practice acts.

    The quality of nursing programs is measured through nationally established standards or criteria. Standards can include such things as how the school is fulfilling its mission and philosophy, how its curriculum is preparing students for nursing practice, and to what extent the qualifications of nursing faculty facilitate preparing future nurses.

    The NLNAC and CCNE accredit schools for a period of time, usually 8-10 years, depending upon the agency and the review findings. Throughout the accreditation period, schools continue to use professional standards as benchmarks to evaluate their program, making necessary changes to ensure they maintain quality.

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