National League for Nursing Responds to AACN Draft Vision Statement for Future of Nursing Education

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League Advocates Multiple Points of Entry to Profession and Life-long Learning; and Highlights Advanced Practice Role of Academic Nurse Educator

National League for Nursing

While the NLN and AACN have long collaborated on issues of mutual interest in nursing education, the league parts company with AACN over the proposed minimum BSN entry requirement.

As the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) solicits alumni and member feedback to its draft of a vision statement for the future of nursing education, the leadership of the National League for Nursing (NLN) has pinpointed some areas of concern in the AACN's proposed vision.

The NLN maintains its long-standing opposition to require entry-level registered nurses to hold a bachelor's or master's of science in nursing degree, a move supported by the AACN. The league advocates multiple entry points. Greater than 50 percent of today's new nurses begin their careers by earning a two-year associate's degree in nursing through which they achieve the requisite academic and clinical foundation to pass the licensing exam to start practice.

The AACN stand on this matter could create a roadblock to job opportunities in nursing, which has battled a decades-long shortage, fueled in part by the limited capacity of many AACN-member institutions to accept qualified applicants into their four-year programs.

The AACN draft statement also fails to acknowledge the advanced practice role of academic nurse educators and their relevance to the future of nursing education.

And while promoting the value of increasing diversity in nursing, the AACN document makes no mention of the importance of recruiting and retaining minority faculty as one key to achieving that goal.

NLN President G. Rumay Alexander, EdD, RN, FAAN, and NLN CEO Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, weighed in with their perspectives on aspects of the AACN draft statement.

Dr. Alexander, also professor and associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion/chief diversity officer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, remarked: "While the NLN and AACN have long collaborated on issues of mutual interest in nursing education, the league parts company with AACN over the proposed minimum BSN entry requirement. Having earned an EdD myself, I am clearly an example of the joint NLN and AACN positions on lifelong learning and academic progression in nursing. However, we cannot ignore the reality that community colleges are front and center in attracting students of color and those who may be marginalized by economic disadvantage. We applaud the role these fine associate degree programs play in increasing diversity in nursing and thereby, increasing cultural sensitivity in health care delivery that positively impacts patient outcomes."

Added Dr. Malone: "I want to stress the importance of widening, rather than narrowing, the entry points to nursing at a time when it is more critical than ever to expand the number of people qualified to practice. A great deal of work has already been done in several states to implement the IOM recommendations that support academic progression. The NLN and the AACN, along with our other partners under the umbrella of the Tri-Council for Nursing, stand together in advocating for increased funding for nursing education."

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Khalilah Long
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