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: Education blogger Jennifer Mensik, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, is vice president of CE programming for OnCourse Learning.
National Nurses Week not only celebrates all you do, but also Florence Nightingale’s 197th 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
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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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Here at Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center, we believe that the nursing teams are the critical factor in achieving optimal patient outcomes.

Your commitment and passion are evident in all that you do each and every day.

During Nurse’s Week, however, we take the opportunity to express our heartfelt appreciation.
It is indeed an honor and a privilege to be the leader of such outstanding nurses.
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Join our excellent team
Here at Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center, we believe that the nursing teams are the critical factor in achieving optimal patient outcomes.

Your commitment and passion are evident in all that you do each and every day.

Thank You from the entire staff and children.
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