Discussion: What Minimal Education Should Every Nurse Have?

Posted by

Qmark by the Italian voice Flickr
Qmark by the Italian voice Flickr

My employer requires a Bachelor’s Degree to work as a nursing aide – we call them Mental Health Specialists (MHSs). MHSs’ supervisors are us nurses, of course. We’re required to have an RN, but a Bachelor’s-level education is optional. This is at a Harvard-affiliated teaching hospital.  PTs, OTs, all the various flavors of group therapist, social workers, pharmacists, physicians, residents, IT folks, nutritionists, research assistants – as far as I can tell ALL other professionals and would-be professionals – at McLean must have more education than the nurses do. To find equal or lower standards, I’d have to look to Housekeeping and such.

I’ve taught NCLEX prep at Community Colleges, and the students there impressed me: smart, tough, disciplined, focused. Promising new nurses! I’ve also worked with many such nurses. I hope to avoid any impression that I look to put such people down. I don’t.

Yet look at the relative powerlessness of nursing in most hospitals today, at our reputation with the public – all heart, little mention of brains. What knowledge or smarts do you need to be an “Angel?” Our lower standards offer benefits, but they also cost us, far more than most of us seem to realize.

What do you think? Should we raise the minimum standards to something comparable to all other professionals, or not? If yes, how? The devil, as they say, is in the details…


  1. As a nurse manager I had to have an MSN. I hired both RNs with & without a BSN. It was expected that all RNS be certified in their specialty. Continuing education was key. They then had caring & brains in the field. Mental health aids had to have a BA or BS, or qualify with years of experience. This was in a major hospital in Southern CA. Christine

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My guess, RNs that have a Diploma school degree or an AA have passed their state boards. MHWs can be certified in that field. I must come down to the degree of education for each one. Christine


  2. Good question. Some of the best nurses I had weren’t highly educated except in their specialty. I think as long as they know their job, can communicate effectively, and have compassion, all the general courses required for degrees are unnecessary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True of all professions, I imagine, ye tthey expect more, and they benefit from it. The effect on the group is as importantant to each of us as the effect on the individual. We can accrue the advantages of a guild, or we can continue to forgo them, giving them up to the other groups who more ahead.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It would be challenging to increase requirements. I imagine it would have to be gradual, with grandfathering and other forms of flexibility to prevent causing any crisises. Medicine took itself a century ago from an uneducated impoverished backwater to a cultural power, all by increasing it’s educational requirements. It’s a huge project, but the payoffs could be much larger. I don’t think nursing today lives up to it’s potential. Nightingale created insitutions, laws, standards. Nurses today mostly settle for survival.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree due to so many poor working conditions! Survival is right! But you know what they say about people living longer – will need even more nurses with at least basic skills to care for people in the future. I’m all for higher educational requirements, especially in acute care – it just gives me pause to think of raising educational levels as a standard and its ensuing potential for excluding otherwise intelligent, caring people from the profession.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a Bachelors degree in Criminology, a Masters in Criminal Justice and I’m currently going for my Juris Doctorate. When I finish that, I would like to do something in the medical field. What do you suggest I do?

    Liked by 1 person

I love your comments! Please, take a moment & share.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s