Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Daniel C. Robinson


This phenomenological qualitative study focused on the personal, social, academic, and professional experiences of ten nurses who began practicing as ADN (Associate Degree) or Diploma RNs and completed their educational transformation to BSN (Bachelor of Nursing). According to previous literature, there is a concern for gap between nursing education and nursing practice (Benner et al., 2010). Due to a nursing educational discrepancy, there is a shortage of qualified nurse educators and nurses prepared for their nursing roles within the current health care environment. This has had a profound effect on the current system of nursing education.

While the need for degree-prepared nurses grows, a large pool of experienced RNs who were educated at the Diploma and ADN level remains untapped. There is little research documenting how educational advancement affects practicing nurses who return to attain their BSN. More specifically, there is limited research directed at examining the phenomenon of the personal and professional effects educational advancement has on nurses who are currently practicing in the profession, and how the educational process, nursing shortage, nursing culture, and financial issues impact nurses.

With adherence to the guidelines of phenomenological research, participants were purposefully selected from 2 Midwest hospitals of similar size. Ten female nurses who completed their BSN while working and/or raising families agreed to participate in the study. After coding and analyzing the participants' data, seven


themes emerged: (1) Need for support; (2) Negative responses from other nurses; (3) BSN as a personal goal; (4) Importance placed on convenience of BSN educational program; (5) Advancement within the profession; (6) Growth of knowledge, personally and globally; and (7) Role modeling for children and peers.

The findings can be used to enable health care and education stakeholders to gain an understanding of how educational advancement from RN to BSN has affected nurses. Future research might be expanded focus on nursing education, specifically, as well as the experiences of nurses who have successfully completed their BSN. Future study might also be conducted in a different region of the U.S. and attempt to include males so their voices could be heard.


Copyright Owner

Barbara Ellen Doering



File Format


File Size

176 pages