The Case for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses

Issue Brief

The Case for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses

Ann Kutney-Lee, Linda Aiken

The nursing workforce plays a central role in our present health care system, and will likely have an even greater role in the future. Nurses already provide the vast majority of care to patients in hospitals, and so it should come as no surprise that the quality of nursing care affects patient outcomes. Over the past decade, studies have linked certain nursing characteristics—such as staffing levels, education, job satisfaction, and work environment—with better outcomes in hospitals. This Issue Brief adds to that evidence with a longitudinal study that links changes in nurse education with improvements in surgical patients’ survival. It also discusses how a more educated nurse workforce could fill a range of new roles in primary care, prevention, and care coordination as health reform is implemented.