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A recent study directed by Penn’s visiting scholar Patricia Benner with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching advocates making the baccalaureate degree the minimum requirement for entry into the nursing field.

However, community college nursing programs disagree, attesting that this requirement would be unfair to associate’s degree nurses who either do not wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree or cannot pursue one for financial reasons.

Benner’s study faces backlash from those who feel like making the bachelor’s degree the minimum requirement would be detrimental, especially given the current nursing shortage and financial crisis.

According to the article titled “Nursing Tug of War” by David Moltz, Benner asserts that there exists a need to reform the present system so nurses can better meet the increasing demands of the field.

She emphasizes the “severe shortage of nurses who are educationally qualified to seek advanced education and possibly become nursing faculty, of which there is currently a considerable deficiency.”

Patricia O’Brien D’Antonio, associate professor of nursing and associate director of the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing at Penn, echoed some of Benner’s sentiments when she spoke of the increasing complexity of patient care.

“Nurses do need the type of education and background that they can only get in baccalaureate degrees,” D’Antonio stated.

She also expressed that many healthcare facilities in Philadelphia already require a bachelor’s as the minimum degree.

According to D’Antonio, the trend is to foster initiatives that make it easier for aspiring nurses to go from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s and so on via articulation programs like Penn’s nursing program. An articulation program helps to reduce overlap of courses when students move on to further degrees.

Nursing sophomore Rochelle Molnar transferred from an associate’s degree nursing program at Jefferson College — in which a student can become a registered nurse after two years — to Penn’s baccalaureate program.

Molnar stated that she thinks she would have been just as prepared graduating with an associate’s degree from Jefferson as graduating with a bachelor’s from Penn.

An associate’s program requires maturity because of the amount of information you must cram into a shorter amount of time, she explained.

“I was a little disappointed by Penn’s program construction. Penn babies you more,” Molnar said.

She said she transferred to Penn Nursing because she wants a master’s degree from a well-established program.

Nursing sophomore Brenda Achille, who also plans on pursuing a master’s degree, said, “Penn is an investment. If you graduate from here you expect that you will have a job. However, not everyone has the means to invest in higher education without being sure of the outcome.”

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