Learning Needs Assessment: Comparing Non-Baccalaureate and Baccalaureate Prepared Registered Nurses

Student Author(s)

Abby Hodgkinson

Faculty Mentor(s)

Professor Donna Garrett, MSN, RN and Joshua Meringa, MPA, MHA, BSN, RN, BC, ONC

Document Type


Event Date



The Institute of Medicine recommends increasing the proportion of registered nurses in the U.S. with a BSN degree to 80% by 2020. Research studies suggest that higher degrees correlate with shorter lengths of stay and better patient outcomes. However, financial constraints and lack of support create barriers for RNs to return to school. Direct-care RNs hold the same job responsibilities and expectations regardless of the degree of education. The objective of this study was to examine if differences exist between self-identified learning needs of BSN-prepared RNs compared to non-BSN RNs. Benner’s Stages of Clinical Competence explain that nurses increase their level of abilities from novice to expert through knowledge. An electronic survey sent to all RNs in a large tertiary care hospital in the Midwest gathered information about learning needs with responses from 821 direct-care nurses for a response rate of 26.2%. Data were entered into SPSSv.22. Results from independent t-tests indicate that BSN (64.93%) and non-BSN (34.94%) RNs did not have significantly different learning needs (p > 0.05) in any of the three major categories. Based on these findings, educational programs should not be stratified into BSN and non-BSN RNs in this setting. Further research could identify if specific learning needs exist between education groups. Limitations for this study include lack of generalizability because only one hospital was surveyed and the potential for self-report bias existed.


This material is based upon work supported by Spectrum Health.

This document is currently not available here.