New York’s new BSN in 10 law: What you need to know

New York state seal.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill requiring future nurses graduating from associate degree or diploma nursing programs to obtain a baccalaureate in nursing within 10 years of initial licensure. 

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What does the law state, in general?

The law states that in order to maintain licensure as a registered professional nurse in New York State (NYS), registered nurses (RNs) must have attained a baccalaureate degree or higher in nursing within 10 years of initial licensure.

When will this law take effect?

The law went into effect immediately on December 19, 2017; however, the requirement to obtain a baccalaureate in nursing within 10 years of initial licensure will take effect 18 months after the act became law. (See NYS Senate Bill S6768 for further information).

What does this mean for currently licensed RNs who do not hold a baccalaureate degree?

RNs licensed on or before the effective date of this act (December 19, 2017) are exempt from the new requirement.

What if I am a student currently enrolled in a nursing program?

All students who were enrolled or pending acceptance into an associate or diploma program preparing registered nurses on the effective date of this act (December 19, 2017) are exempt from the new requirement.

How did this legislation come about?

Over 52 years ago, the American Nurses Association published its first position paper on educational requirements for entry into practice, advocating that the baccalaureate degree be the minimum degree for entry into registered nurse practice.

Over the years, numerous regulatory and accrediting bodies have recommended this change to nursing education minimum requirements as a means to address increasingly complex patient care resulting from shorter lengths of stay, higher acuity and more sophisticated interventions. This proposal is the result of a growing body of research evidence that additional education results in better patient outcomes. 

Why is this change in minimum educational requirements for registered professional nurses an important step in nursing education and the profession?

The impetus for this change in minimum educational requirements for registered professional nurses is due in part to the recognition of the increasing complexity of the American health care system. Rapidly expanding technology and procedures place greater demands on nursing competencies.

Several recent research studies demonstrate the added value of additional education in relation to improved patient outcomes. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing found that workplaces with baccalaureate-prepared nurses have lower patient mortality rates, lower failure-to-rescue rates and higher proficiency in diagnoses and evaluating nursing interventions. 

Another study demonstrated that each 10 percent increase in the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workplace results in a 5 percent decrease in surgical patient deaths.

Will associate degree and diploma nursing programs be phased out or eliminated?

No. The law recognizes the need for and value of the multiple educational paths and entry points into the profession.

Why should those exempt from the requirement to advance their education consider pursuing a baccalaureate degree in nursing?

For those holding an RN license in NYS at the time the law was passed, the mandatory requirement to advance their education does not apply (please refer to bill in its entirety); however, nurses who fall into this category may want to consider advancing their educational preparation by pursuing a baccalaureate in nursing for a number of reasons:

Seeking higher education with UB SON, from anywhere

There are many routes to advance your education. The University at Buffalo School of Nursing offers an online RN to BS program that can be completed in 12-24 months. Building upon knowledge and experience of registered nurses who have already successfully completed an associate or diploma nursing program and passed the NCLEX-RN. Our RN to BS Program is delivered in a student-centered, distance learning/asynchronous format that allows practicing nurses to attend school while maintaining employment.

Ranked Among the Best

Our RN to BS program is ranked #8 among all online bachelor's programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

For more information on NYS licensure requirements please refer to the NYS Education Department Office of the Professions.

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