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Aiken, LH, Clarke, SP, Cheung, RB, Sloane, DM & Silber, JH 2004, ‘Educational level

of hospital nurses and surgical patient mortality’, Journal of American Medical Association, vol.290, pp.1617-1623.

In light of the growing shortage of nurses, recruiting adequate nursing staff is one of the central issues faced by hospitals. In this article, Aiken et al. (2004) explore the relevance of nursing education in hospitals and the effects of nurses’ educational level on patient mortality. The objective of the study was to examine whether the number of RNs with a bachelor’s degree in nursing or higher could be associated with risk-adjusted surgical patient mortality and nurses’ failure to rescue patients (Aiken et al. 2004). Aiken et al. (2004) were the first to look at the level of nurses’ education from the perspective of patient safety and mortality risks in hospitals. The study was intended to close the existing knowledge gap in terms of the relationship of nurses’ education and patient outcomes (Aiken et al. 2004). Aiken et al. (2004) found that, in hospitals with a higher proportion of RNs with a baccalaureate degree or higher, surgical patient mortality and failure to rescue were much lower than in hospitals with the poorly educated staff. Patients cared by RNs with a bachelor’s degree experienced a considerable survival advantage (Aiken et al. 2004). Thus, it is possible to conclude that nurses’ education directly impacts patient outcomes. A bachelor’s degree in nursing is a sufficient guarantee of improved patient safety and reduced mortality risks in surgical units.

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Brumini, G, Kovic, I, Zombori, D, Lulic, I, & Petrovecki, M 2005, ‘Nurses’ attitudes

towards computers: Cross sectional questionnaire study’, Croatian Medical Journal, vol.46, no.1, pp.101-104.

One of the main goals of this study was to evaluate the influence of nurses’ demographic characteristics, including education, on their attitudes towards computer usage in nursing practice. The researchers discovered that nurses, who held at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing, displayed better attitudes to the computer use in practice and had better computer skills (Brumini et al. 2005). Apparently, hospitals with a higher proportion of educated nurses have greater chances to implement complex computer systems. Nurses with at least a bachelor’s degree are more knowledgeable about the medical benefits of information technologies and can provide better care to patients than their colleagues without a degree in nursing (Brumini et al. 2005).

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Grady, C, Danis, M, Soeken, KL, O’Donnell, P, Taylor, C Farrar, A & Ulrich, CM

2008, ‘Does ethics education influence the moral action of practicing nurses and social workers?’, American Journal of Bioethics, vol.8, no.4, pp.4-11.

Ethics training is an essential ingredient of baccalaureate education in nursing. In this study, the researchers investigated the effects of ethics education and training on nurses’ moral judgments. Grady et al. (2008) used the sample of Caucasian, predominantly female, nurses working in four U.S. census regions. Ethics education was found to impact nurses’ moral action and confidence, as well as their use of available ethics resources (Grady et al. 2008). The results confirm the importance of baccalaureate education in nursing.

Kendall-Gallagher, D & Blegen, M 2009, ‘Competence and certification of registered

nurses and safety of patients in intensive care units’, American Journal of Critical Care, vol.18, no.2, pp.106-114.

Kendall-Gallagher and Blegen (2009) sought to test the assumption that clinicians’ level of knowledge and education plays a role in preventing and mitigating adverse events in intensive care units. Thus, to explore the proportion of certified nurses in ICUs and the risk of adverse patient outcomes was the main objective of the study (Kendall-Gallagher & Blegen 2009). The researchers found that the level of education and certification was inversely related to the risks of falls and medication administration errors in ICUs (Kendall-Gallagher & Blegen 2009). The results emphasize the vital role of baccalaureate education in nursing care.

Meltzer, LS & Huckabay, LM 2004, ‘Critical care nurses’ perceptions of futile care and

its effect on burnout’, American Journal of Critical Care, vol.13, pp.202-208.

Nurses’ perceptions of care futility are a common cause of their emotional exhaustion (Meltzer & Huckabay 2004). Therefore, the authors of the article tried to evaluate the way nurses’ perceptions of futile care impacted the risks of burnout (Meltzer & Huckabay 2004). The results of the study suggest that nurses’ level of education is directly related to their professional expectations. Consequently, nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing or higher face higher risks of moral exhaustion, due to the higher expectations they place on their jobs (Meltzer & Huckabay 2004).

Conclusion and relevance

The current state of research does not provide much information regarding the role of nurses’ education in the provision of quality care. More often than not, the importance of professional education and certification in nursing is taken for granted. Yet, the proportion of nurses with a bachelor’s degree and higher is inversely related to the risks of mortality and poor patient outcomes (Aiken et al. 2004; Kendall-Gallagher & Blegen 2009). Nurses with a bachelor’s degree or higher make fewer medication administration errors and display better ethical judgment (Kendall-Gallagher & Blegen 2009; Grady et al. 2008). Finally, educated nurses are more knowledgeable about computer technologies and have better chances to use them effectively and for the benefit of patients (Brumini et al. 2005). Unfortunately, educated nurses face higher risks of burnout and moral exhaustion, as they place higher expectations on their job and professional performance. Nevertheless, it is through education and certification of nurses that hospitals can raise the quality and safety of nursing care provided to patients.

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