Welcome to the fall semester! I hope you have had a good first week. Tomorrow we will have convocation at 2 pm in the 9th floor auditorium of Weiskotten. It is not mandatory, but just a nice opportunity for those of you who are available to meet our new students and have a chance to mingle a bit with CON faculty.
I will be talking about something I have been brewing about lately. There was a recent piece in the paper discussing the fact that the majority of nurses here in CNY have associates degrees. The article minimized the importance of the baccalaureate degree in nursing to patient care, a fact that is well described in the literature. Equally troubling were the comments posted online, mocking the importance of the BS degree. I wrote an immediate response to the editor, which they chose not to publish. I also found myself in a discussion with a group of nursing managers and administrators who were verbalizing things I haven’t heard in many years- that a new grad should work before getting their BS, that hospitals can’t accommodate school schedules, and that nurses should have all kinds of experience before going on to graduate work.
Just as practice needs to be evidence-based, so too does education and educational policy. There is no evidence to support a need for experience before beginning baccalaureate studies, and little for requiring experience prior to graduate work. Many many many hospital systems and educational institutions have worked out agreements where nurses are supported through their degree programs, with flexible schedules, paid days off to attend a full day of school, and other flexible options. And that has to happen here in Syracuse. It is essential to quality care. Why would any health care system not be on board with this? While the CON has taken many steps to make our educational programs as accessible as possible to you, the health care systems have to meet us at least halfway and be willing to experiment with alternate staffing patterns which would allow you to complete school in a timely manner! You owe it to yourself and your career to achieve your degree as early as possible. The faculty and I are committed to helping you do that.
It is so important for each of us to be talking to the public, making sure they understand how critical a degree in nursing, both baccalaureate and higher, is to their health care. Kudos to each of you for being enrolled in your programs, and I hope you are talking about what you are learning to your patients, friends, families, and those in your communities. The public must understand what magnet certification is, and why it is important to seek health care in a magnet hospital when possible. Our mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve. Making sure patients have the best nursing care possible is part of that process, and achieving a baccalaureate and higher degree in nursing gives nurses the expanded knowledge and competencies they need to care for the complex patients of today and the future. Let’s all work together to educate the public and our legislators about these facts.
A calendar date – I will be having Dean’s hours every month, alternating between Tuesdays and Thursdays. This month, they are 9/11 at 2 pm in the CON. I will have refreshments for you, and I would love to have some time with you to talk about your ideas and your progress towards your goals. Please drop in if you have time.