Nursing is a profession that is unique in its duality. Being a nurse requires a special type of person who has both knowledge and compassion; the role cannot function effectively without using both components. To possess a nurse’s healing touch, one must be able incorporate the art of caregiving into the science of nursing care.
Florence Nightingale herself once said, “Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God’s spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts: I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts”.
Cultivating the Excellent Nurse
All Registered Nurses are certified to be proficient at the same level of nursing knowledge; the NCLEX-RN is the same for every graduate of a nursing program regardless of degree type. Understanding that every licensed RN has the same qualifications to safely treat even the most critical of patients with or without a BSN degree gives patients the peace of mind they need to trust that their lives are in very capable hands. Critical thinking, a vital trait in nursing, is famously lamented as being a skill that is impossible to teach in a classroom setting, but rather acquired with time and experience. A BSN is in no way a silver bullet for personal growth.
The art half of nursing is equally based in the innate caliber of the person, and not the initials after their name. To answer the calling of being a nurse already demands the unique gift of self that is required to care for the sick. The heart of a nurse is not founded in an educational level, and no number of credits on a transcript will ever be enough to singlehandedly create a compassionate and efficient caregiver.
A BSN doesn’t make a better nurse: it makes an Excellent Nurse better
So if a BSN doesn’t make a nurse more compassionate or more qualified to care at the bedside, why is there so much external pressure for RNs to continue their education to the bachelor’s level and beyond?
The answer lies in the fact that nurses are perfectly positioned to be at the pulse of healthcare. Much like they monitor and revive their patients, nurses have the tools, skills, and insight to recognize and cure the ills of our larger healthcare system. For nurses who are compelled to save lives and improve patient care on a level that extends far beyond the bedside, earning a BSN is a powerful weapon in their arsenal against disease.
To become a player on the world stage requires looking at the world differently than those who perpetuate the inefficient status quo. The current healthcare system is far from perfect, and there is no more qualified group than nurses to create new solutions to old problems. By integrating their unique blend of compassion and knowledge with a real world understanding of our current healthcare climate, nurses who continue their education add their expertise to an ever-changing landscape. With well-educated nurses as the artists, the result is sure to be an absolute masterpiece.