The U.S. health care delivery system has gone through enormous and transformational changes in the past two decades. The traditional hospital-centered health care delivery is no longer able to support the expanded demands of health care services, especially outside hospitals. In the same token, the traditional role of a nurse as bedside direct caregiver is insufficient to meet the accelerating needs of nurses in other areas, such as health promotion and disease prevention, case management, leadership and research. As a result of that, preparation of the entry-level of professional nurses requires a broader competencies so that nurses are educationally prepared to function with more independence in delivering diversified care. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recognized the Bachelor of Science degree in nursing as the minimum educational requirement for professional nursing practice (AACN, 2000).
There are significant differences between associate degree nursing programs and baccalaureate degree nursing programs. The baccalaureate program not only include all of curriculum in the associate degree programs, but also provides in-depth study in physical and social sciences, nursing research, leadership and management, community and public health nursing, patient education, and the humanities (Johnston, 2009). The broader and more in-depth education enhance professional development and critical thinking. The baccalaureate graduate is prepared to better understand many issues in culture, society, economy and politics. Such skills are essential for today's nursing professionals.
In clinical practice, associate degree nurses provide bedside care in less complex situation while baccalaureate degree nurses design and manage a comprehensive plan of care. They understand more in patient's signs and symptoms, supervise other nursing personnel, support staff, and guide patients through the complicated health care resources in a community, and...
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