Nurse education can increase self confidence, knowledge, critical thinking ability and improve interpersonal skills. Improved education and training for nurses is required to keep up with client expectations and sustain better outcomes of patient care. Highly educated and involved healthcare providers help towards allowing a more patient centered approach which improves the quality of care.Physicians are regarded as the ‘captains’ of the healthcare teams in the hospital setting, but typicallly they only spend approximately 30 minutes a day with the patient, whereas nurses are a constant presence at the bedside. Nurses play a crtitical role in ensuring patient safety by monitoring for signs of clinical deterioration, detecting errors, understanding care processes, identifying weaknesses in systems and performing many tasks to ensure that patients receive high quality care. A study completed by Audet, Baurgault,& Rochefort (2018) found that higher proportions of registered nurses with a BSN were associated with lower mortality rates in hospitals but mostly with lower rates of failure to rescue. Failure to rescue refers to a death which is the result from a potential preventable complication. This indicates that higher education can make a difference with patient safety such as administration of medicine, proficiency with new technology and the ability to pay close attention to patient assessment and documentation. Nurses with advanced education have an increased confidence to work with the interdisciplinary team and discuss concerns with other team members who may have higher degrees at masters and doctorate levels.
Education is valuable to increase critical thinking skills and achieve a greater awareness of evidence based practices that promote favorable patient outcomes. However, working conditions for nurses can have a greater impact on patient safety than education. Increased workload, increased stress and risk of burnout are greater challenges that many nurses face. When resources are limited, the best educated nurse may still struggle without the support due to long working hours and overtime, which have been linked to increased risks of errors. If the staffing level is persistently low, the well educated nurse is also at risk of stress and burnout. Patient centered outcomes which are considered markers of nursing quality should be analysed against system related measures such as staff levels, skill mix, hours worked, quality of the environment and nurse turnover. The quality of nursing care should be compared to how the institution supports its nurse workforce with their patient safety efforts and not always how safety and quality is related to the education level of the nurses. I work for a Magnet certified hospital and it seems that huge emphasis is placed on the need for registered nurses to obtain a certification in a speciality, a masters degree and doctorate, but there is not as much emphasis on staff retention, resources and comfortable working conditions to prevent burnout.
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