New York Enacts Mandatory BSN Law

New York recently enacted mandatory BSN legislation requiring all RNs to obtain their BSN within 10 years of initial licensure. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the act into law which took effect December 19, 2017. The American Nurses Association (ANA) House of Delegates has long championed the idea that all nurses obtain a BSN or higher degree by 2020. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Future of Nursing Report has called for 80% of RNs to obtain BSN education by 2020.

New Jersey has pending legislation and several other states have legislation in varying stages of the process to enact laws for RNs to obtain minimally BSN education. Small states such as North Dakota have tried to make the BSN mandatory, but by 2003 they had to rescind the legislation in order to find enough nurses to meet the public need due to critical shortages of RNs.

Grandfather Clauses

Nurses who live and are currently licensed by the state of NY are grandfathered in. There is a grace period for the next 18 months. But it is highly recommended for all nurses to obtain their BSN. Anyone choosing to move to NY at any future point in their career, is not grandfathered in and the clock will have started with the date of their original licensure. Anyone who has been an RN for more than 10 years already and is moving to NY will not be granted a license to practice in NY until they obtain a BSN or higher degree. The New York Board for Professional Registered Nursing will no doubt be inundated with questions regarding this law and the unique qualifications of individual RNs.

In order to not negatively impact education with these demands, the 10-year period was designed to allow for nursing students to obtain Associate degrees in nursing and continue their education over the course of 10 years to achieve BSN and higher degrees. Many RN to BSN or RN to MSN programs are available online as well as bricks and mortar nursing schools throughout New York and the US.

New York is Being Watched

The ANA has worked closely New York legislators to draft and enact the bill (AO1842-B/SO6768) to help improve the professional status of RNs. The bill takes into consideration a multitude of scenarios to ensure specific parameters are met. Many states have been watching the progress of this legislation and working to enact similar laws to improve quality of patient care and outcomes.

The role of the nurse has expanded tremendously over the past two decades and is expected to continue to do so. Nurses have become the backbone of the health care system and the knowledge base must continue to expand and grow with the demands of the job. There is evidence proving many times over that mortality rates are lower when RNs have a minimum of BSN degree. Patient outcomes are directly impacted by education levels of RNs.

Nurses Need a BSN to Meet Professional Standards

The IOM is renowned for saying, “nursing practice has become more sophisticated, and outdated education requirements are no longer adequate.” It has also been said that nurses will never really be considered professionals until the bar is raised and a BSN becomes the minimum standard for all nurses.

There are arguments on both sides that Associate degree nurses have better clinical skills, but BSN nurses have better theoretical, critical thinking and management skills. Whatever the school of thought, patient outcomes have been proven to improve when the bar is raised. Quality care should be considered foremost and nurses be encouraged to further their education.