Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Yeah. . . .no. I'm having some thoughts about BSNs.

I'm an ADN-prepared nurse. Those of you who've been here for a while know that I often refer to those two years (three, actually, counting prerequisites) as the Hardest Work I Ever Put In For An Extended Period of Time. It was like drinking from a firehose, like trying to cross a raging river while wearing combat boots, like riding a bull with no previous experience. And the instructors I had hammered one thing home over and over: that we, as front-line nurses, had the right and the responsibility to consider ourselves colleagues of our BSN or MD or PA coworkers, not as helpers or assistants.

Of course, that was in the days of The Nursing Shortage. ADNs like me were being fought over by multiple hospitals. Nobody in my class started work at a nursing home; we all got acute-care or better jobs right off the bat.

Now my facility is going for Magnet status, which means BSNs are the basic standard of nursing education. And I have some problems with that.

First, I've seen a massive drop-off in terms of the diversity of our nursing staff. Used to be, Manglement would hire people with ADNs, provided they had either a bachelor's degree in something--anything--or equivalent experience not related to nursing. As a result, I got hired with a man who'd worked as a hospital chaplain for ten years, a woman who'd been in the Navy for a decade, three people from three different African countries, and a guy who'd been a medic in the first Gulf War (1990's) and had worked as a mechanical engineer afterwards.

Now they hire BSNs. And since they hire only people with BSNs from colleges here in the US, we have a crop of new hires who are all white, middle-class, and in their twenties. All of them are native-born, all of them are young, and for all of them, this is their first job outside of, say, Sonic. They're also all female.

This is a problem. This utterly fails to reflect our patient population. Not that that's a necessity, but for Heaven's sake: you ought to have at least some employees who can connect on some level with the people they're caring for.

Second, the BSN programs in Texas seem to focus mainly on management and leadership. Which is all well and good, but you're getting folks who, at the end of their senior year, have absorbed a ton of nursing theory and still have no time-management skills. As a result, we've lengthened the preceptor period for new grads to sixteen weeks. The preceptor period for ADNs was twelve weeks. Why? Because, at the end of our last semester, we were providing care for five patients. The BSN-prepared nurses provide care for two.

And they don't catch up. I'm seeing BSNs who, after two years on the floor, are still having time-management issues severe enough to attract Manglement's attention. They're schooled in critical thinking, they're schooled in history, but they simply don't have the chops to handle more than two post-op admissions in a shift. (Oh, Lord, how I wish I were exaggerating.)

Third and finally, I'm working with a lot of new grads who don't have a good fund of general knowledge (to use the MD's term). I'mma be a snob here and suggest that a working knowledge of, say, how to Google effectively, or American history, or politics, might all be good things to have on a day-to-day basis while you're living your life and doing your job. I'm not getting that from the new grads I work with. I have the reputation of knowing everything there is to know about everything simply because I know how to look shit up. I can assess sources, decide which ones are bunk and which ones are decent, and move on from there in a winnowing process. The new nurses I work with (and by "new" I mean "anybody who's graduated in the last three years") do not have that ability. I don't know if it's a liberal arts education or maturity or what, but unless it comes to them from a textbook, they do not know how to analyze information.

Maybe it's a lack of curiosity. When I get a patient from Backobeyondistan, I try to find out everything I can about their culture and belief systems. I'm the only one who does that. *sigh*

ANYWAY. There is a place for BSNs, no doubt. I'm planning to start mine this year, so's I can continue to work somewhere other than assisted-living facilities. Some BSN degrees (though not the ones here, from what I can tell) give graduates an excellent foundation in pathophysiology, assessment, and basic sciences. (Ours tend to require two semesters of state history and a couple of classes on theory.) Some actually prepare students to be nurses, not just research-bots or management candidates.

Overall, though? I'd rather see more diversity in the graduates we get. I want to see middle-aged, fat women like myself who are on their second or third career. I'd like to get into a conversation about Buxtehude with a dude who got his BA in organ music, then went back to school when his carpal tunnel got too bad. I'd like to see the occasional Indian nurse, or Filipino/a nurse, who took the exact same courses for her or his degree but has been denied a job because his/her  diploma didn't have "US" on it.

I'd be interested to hear what you guys have to say.

Thursday, January 01, 2015