Magnet Leadership Degree Dilemma

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    I am an RN with an ASN degree who has worked for the same hospital for 20 years. In 2003 I was promoted to a clinical leadership position that required a BSN or a Bachelor's in a related field. I chose the related field and got a BA in Human Development which was actually more applicable to the work I am doing than a BSN curriculum. Our hospital obtained Magnet status in 2006.

    I received a second promotion in 2006 to a clinical leadership position which included administrative duties which I have held ever since, and graduated with my BA in 2007. The current position required that I have a BSN by 2011 and that no nursing leader without a BSN will practice after 2013. Since I was just finishing a degree which required a great deal of time, energy and money, I verbally advised the HR representative involved in the promotion and my director at the time (now gone) that there was no way I was turning around and going back to school again after just finishing up a bachelor's just because they were now wanting to look good on paper for Magnet and because they changed the rules midstream. Nonetheless, I signed a paper stating that I understood I was required to obtain a BSN for the position by 2013; the HR rep said, "Sign it. Who knows what the rules will be by then!"

    Now, every year, I'm asked what my "plan" is for their Magnet report. I am one of only 4 or 5 people left in the entire organization without a BSN in a leadership position. I should mention I am not in an acute care setting. I am in a unique area in an outpatient setting. My BA is very relevant to this area and I am 60 years old. I would like to keep my job for the next 5 years and finish out my career, but this whole BSN dilemma is really beginning to make me think it may not happen. I am not willing to go back to school at this point.

    I've considered asking for a new title that doesn't involve "clinical" leadership. Other than that, I have no idea how to deal with this. Any thoughts?
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  3. 12 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    Magnet status isn't the issue here. I understand that your BA was fine for the first promotion, but from what you wrote, the second promotion required a BSN. When you accepted that job, you signed a 'contract' stating that you understood and would abide by the rules and now you want to nullify that agreement. Your CNE has probably established some Magnet objectives and one of these is to upgrade the educational requirements of nurse leaders. Changing titles is probably not an option if you still have the same scope of responsibilities... that wouldn't fool anyone.
  5. 1
    I think you have 3 choices:

    1. Go back to school and get that BSN (maybe what you should have done a couple of years ago)

    2. Negotiate a new job with your employer. If your employer really values you, they might be able to redesign your job -- or give a similar, but different job that isn't technically a manager. That's the key. If you are a nurse manager, you will need the BSN: but if you are not technically a manager, you won't fit into the BSN category for the purposes of the Magnet program.

    3. Get a whole new job.

    I'd pursue Option #2 if I were you. But that might not work, so, you should be prepared to face the other 2 options. Magnet announced the BSN requirment for managers a few years ago. People were given plenty of warning. I doubt they will back down on it now.
    katmeup7 likes this.
  6. 0
    HouTx, I agree with you from a contractual viewpoint. From a human perspective however, I don't have the time, energy or desire to obtain the degree at this point in my career to make them "look good on paper." The degree I obtained is relevant and applicable to my area of work, and getting a BSN will not improve my skill set or abilities...this I know for a fact...I've already looked at several curriculums of BSN programs and am left shaking my head. It is not worth destroying my life for the next 2 years from a health and financial perspective...when I should be socking away that $ for my impending retirement. Does that make sense? I feel like I'm caught in a donut hole.
  7. 0
    Quote from llg
    I think you have 3 choices:

    1. Go back to school and get that BSN (maybe what you should have done a couple of years ago)

    2. Negotiate a new job with your employer. If your employer really values you, they might be able to redesign your job -- or give a similar, but different job that isn't technically a manager. That's the key. If you are a nurse manager, you will need the BSN: but if you are not technically a manager, you won't fit into the BSN category for the purposes of the Magnet program.

    3. Get a whole new job.

    I'd pursue Option #2 if I were you. But that might not work, so, you should be prepared to face the other 2 options. Magnet announced the BSN requirment for managers a few years ago. People were given plenty of warning. I doubt they will back down on it now.
    Thank you. Option 2 is what I have been considering discussing with my boss. I don't even report to nursing, although there is a dotted line there. They definitely value my years of service, of this I'm sure, but I do think changing my job description to a non-nursing manager might be the ticket. I just hope they agree, and my timing might be the issue here. I don't want to wait until the last minute...probably time to get out of that nursing loop sooner rather than later.

    Getting a whole new job is definitely a consideration and one I've contemplated more often lately.

    Thank you for your input; I appreciate your thoughts.
  8. 0
    Quote from katmeup7

    Thank you for your input; I appreciate your thoughts.
    You're welcome.

    I know several people in similar situations. The longer they put it off the more difficult the decision gets as they aren't getting any younger. At some point in our careers, we have to make some tough choices as to whether further investment into our career skills, knowledge, and credentials is the sensible thing to do. When we are relatively young, it makes sense to invest in career credentials. But as we age, we reach a point at which the investment will not pay off -- and it might make more sense to make some sort of compromise in our jobs rather than to invest more to advance or maintain a certain level of career "rank."

    Good luck to you.
  9. 0
    Thanks. It's good to know I'm not the only one in this dilemma. I'm never opposed to more education and have considerable other nursing education and certifications, but feel like I don't want to do anymore, and when I consider a retirement career, it may have nothing to do with nursing and therefore I'm exploring what that may be.

    My financial advisor also says getting a BSN is not in my financial best interest at this age. Life and career gets complicated at this point in life!
  10. 0
    Quote from katmeup7
    Thanks. It's good to know I'm not the only one in this dilemma. I'm never opposed to more education and have considerable other nursing education and certifications, but feel like I don't want to do anymore, and when I consider a retirement career, it may have nothing to do with nursing and therefore I'm exploring what that may be.

    My financial advisor also says getting a BSN is not in my financial best interest at this age. Life and career gets complicated at this point in life!
    Yes, it does get complicated. Once we get into our 50's, we look at every penny differently -- or at least we should. Every penny spent on something else is a penny NOT put into our retirement accounts. And we always have 1 eye on that retirement account as we "count down" to retirement.

    That's why I am such an advocate for getting a lot of education in the beginning of a career. People think it will get easier to go back to school "later," but that is not often the case. It often gets harder, and the return on investment is far less as you get closer to retirement. Not many people think of that.

    I hope you can find a way to modify your job description so that it works out for you.
  11. 0
    In my case, nursing was a 2nd career for me that began in a hospital setting at age 40. Never thought I'd be in a leadership position, and never really strived for that path. Life has a way of putting us in places we never expected to be though, doesn't it?

    Again, thanks.
  12. 0
    Sorry I came in so late to this discussion! I'm fascinated by it.

    For my organization, I am the person who gets to do what I call our "Magnet Math" -- lining up all the leadership roles and counting those with the "required credentials" in the hope that each year we have the "right percentage." This can be complex and even annoying especially when I see the amazing leadership skills of those nurses who have not chosen the "traditional" path.

    I am also a nurse who, at age 58, has spent the last 6 years S-L-O-W-L-Y finishing a post-master's FNP certificate (I should be able to sit for boards this coming summer). I love learning however, going to school in the midst of a large leadership job can be messy and frustrating at times. I have to remind myself that it will help me achieve my own personal and professional goals.

    I was a CNS long before we had certification exams (the 1970s) -- so that educational preparation "doesn't count" any more. I had my masters and even my PhD before most of the faculty who now serve as my professors pursued theirs.

    One of the difficulties I see in nursing (and have seen for some time) is our reluctance to recognize that new knowledge enters the field constantly and at a VERY fast pace. Keeping up (and that means current credentials) is hard, but if you want to stay at the cutting edge, it is what you must do.

    I am eager to be done with this portion of my education, but I look forward to the reward of being able to work as an FNP as long as I choose, in some capacity. For me, that will likely be into my 70s. My 21st century credentials should last me well into the future I see for myself.

    I hope you will not be discouraged in finding your way through your dilemma. We are all the products of our choices.
    Good luck in the path you choose.
    I wish you happiness there!

    --paula forte, RN, MSN, PhD, NEA-BC, CWCN


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