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Nursing continues to evolve

National Nurses Week celebrates you, as well as decades of changes in nursing education

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Jennifer Mensik, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, is division director of care management at Oregon Health and Science University and instructor for Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation DNP program. She also is treasurer for the American Nurses Association. Formerly, Mensik was vice president of CE programming for Nurse.com published by OnCourse Learning. A second-edition book she authored, "The Nurse Manager's Guide to Innovative Staffing," won third place in the leadership category for the American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Awards 2017.
National Nurses Week not only celebrates all you do, but also Florence Nightingale’s 199th birthday. So much has changed over the years, due to her efforts and those who followed her — including nursing education.
As an avid supporter of education, I believe everyone should continue learning, whether at a university or through online classes that you can take at home.
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Over the years, as education progressed with hospital diploma and bachelor’s programs, the need to train nurses quicker during the nursing shortage of the 1940’s led to talks about three-year associate degree programs. In 1958, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation funded the successful pilot that started nursing education in community colleges, now known as associate degrees in nursing. Still, decades later, the creation of AD programs has not stopped nursing shortages.

My first nursing degree was as an LPN and next was an ADN through a community college. These first steps were part of my plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
By Jennifer Menzik
PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
J-Mensik
Training methods evolve
In 1964, the American Nurses Association House of Delegates adopted the position that a baccalaureate degree is the educational foundation for professional nursing. Keep in mind the rationale for moving from a diploma to bachelor’s degree was based on the overall development of the profession. I had the good fortune of speaking to nurse members of the House of Delegates who were at this meeting and hearing about the conversations that led to the adoption of this position.
Fast forward to 2010. The Institute of Medicine published the report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.” One of the goals in the report was to have nurses achieve higher levels of education, including increasing the number of RNs with bachelor’s degrees to 80% by 2020. This includes strengthening academic pathways to obtaining bachelor’s degrees. We will not meet that goal, but based on the IOM Assessing Progress report, the country has seen a good deal of progress.
Another goal of the IOM report was to increase doctoral-level prepared RNs. Doctoral-level nursing education really started to flourish during the 1960s, but this was not without controversy. As some university leadership allowed colleges of nursing to grant PhDs, others refused to allow colleges of nursing to do this, saying nursing wasn’t a science! Even today, when people ask what my PhD is in, and I tell them nursing, most are surprised that you can get a PhD in nursing.
As an alternative to the PhD, colleges of nursing created the DNS or DNSc (doctorate in nursing science, clinical). One of the intents of this degree was to prepare nurses for doctoral-level work in clinical practice, rather than research and theory. The DNS or DNSc is considered a research degree today.
Among all professions, a doctorate degree is considered the terminal degree. For many nurses, a PhD might not have been the right terminal degree. In the early 2000s, the doctorate in nursing practice degree, or DNP, was created. The DNP is considered a terminal degree for those who choose to focus on clinical practice, whether as a nurse practitioner or nurse executive who is not in advanced practice.
Nursing education has evolved so much over the last century. And of course, we have many wonderful nursing pioneers to thank for it. Much can be learned from history, and if you don’t know it, you won’t know where you are going.
Doctoral-level nursing
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Contents
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Florence's biggest fans
Nightingale inspires us and we have the collection to prove it!
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If Nightingale were alive today
Veterans? The poor? Read about causes she may have championed.
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Inspired by Nightingale
An asteroid was named after her! Read more namesake fun facts.
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The cape comes with the job
RNs can’t leap tall buildings, but they show heroism in other ways.
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DAISY blooms across the globe
The program continues to make its international mark.
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Nurses and their causes
Nurses are taking the lead as advocates in various settings.
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Celebrate education progress
Nurse education requirements are changing to meet patients' needs.
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Two minutes with Florence
Nurses share what they would ask Nightingale if they had the chance.
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Happy Birthday, Nightingale
A special timeline illustrates quite an extraordinary life.
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We celebrate our nurses
Churchill, Twain, Dickens ... Get inspired by our RNs' quote picks.
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Don't wait to say 'thanks!'
Weave regular recognition into your goals. Nurses deserve it.
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Nursing's evolution continues
Expectations of nurses raises the bar for the next generation.
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Sweet 'thank you' messages
Our advertisers show appreciation for their special nurses.
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Are you satisfied?
Nurses reveal whether their jobs are making them happy.
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Take charge of your career
Your happiness depends on how vigorously you pursue career goals.
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Diversity takes center stage
RNs are improving workforce diversity and cultural competence.
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Step outside of school
Experiential learning is a big piece of the puzzle when you're a student.
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Life as a nurse attorney
Blogger shares why she became a legal advocate for nurses.
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FREE CE: Telemedicine expands
It's not only for physicians. Patients can use new tech tools, too.
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Browse our CE catalog
We have the education modules you need to elevate your career.
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EBP in a clinical setting
Learn how evidence-based practice is a boon for patients.
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A walk down memory lane
Read how Nurses Week was born out of decades of advocacy.
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Self-care feeds good ethics
Find out why RNs should prioritize staying healthy.
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Celebrating is academic
Faculty and students take part in Nurses Week celebrations.
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Students show appreciation
Find out how students get inspired on National Student Nurses Day.
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Nightingale’s notable quotes
The founder of modern nursing is known for her words of wisdom.
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Letters with lasting impact
Florence's letters reveal what her concerns were back in the day.
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