Pathways to Registered Nursing: Influences of Health-Related Work Experience and Education Financing

  • Abstract

    A larger and more diverse registered nurse (RN) workforce in the U.S. is needed to meet growing demand and address social determinants of health and improve health equity. To improve understanding of pathways and barriers to becoming an RN, this study examined prior health care employment and financial assistance factors associated with completion of pre-licensure RN education programs, by initial entry degree (associate degree or bachelor of science in nursing) and across racial and ethnic groups, using the 2018 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses. The study found higher percentages of associate degree-entry RNs held a health-related job prior to completing their initial RN program than did bachelor’s degree entrants. Employer support for education financing as well as reliance on loans and scholarships increased among RNs graduating in 2000 and later, and reliance on self-financing was reported less frequently. Hispanic associate degree-entry RNs reported education financing from only federal loans more frequently compared with White RNs, and higher percentages of Black, multiracial, and “some other race” baccalaureate degree entry RNs accessed federal loans compared with White baccalaureate degree-entry RNs. These findings indicate diversifying the RN workforce should remain a priority to increase representation by underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Equitable pathways into the RN profession will be facilitated and expedited through policies that overcome financial and social barriers that enable individuals from population groups underrepresented in the nursing workforce to identify with the RN role and route to the profession.

  • Authors:

    Skillman SM, Johnson HM, Frogner BK

  • Journal/Publisher:

    Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice

  • Edition:

    Aug 2022.

  • Link to Article

    Access the article here: Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice

  • Citation:

    Skillman SM, Johnson HM, Frogner BK. Pathways to registered nursing: influences of health-related work experience and education financing. Policy Polit Nurs Pract. 2022;23(4):228-237. doi: 10.1177/15271544221120205

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