Tanya Altmann

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 1-1-2008


Worldwide Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





School of Nursing

Committee Chair

Lynn C. Simko

Committee Member

Gladys Husted

Committee Member

Robyn M. Nelson


attitudes, continuing education, post-licensure education, nursing education, RN-BSN education, research


Quality healthcare is a priority. Many healthcare organization representatives and mission statements, recent research, and research priorities support the contention that improved quality is related to higher educated nurses providing care. What is needed goes beyond what can be acquired through continuing education courses.

What we know is that few U.S. nurses continue their formal education after licensure and that the majority have an Associate Degree or Diploma in nursing. Thus, it is in the publics' interest to invest more in enticing and enabling nurses to achieve higher educational levels consistent with the trends of other health care professionals.

The purpose of this study was to examine the attitudes of nurses, initially registered with an Associate Degree or Diploma in nursing, toward continuing formal education at the baccalaureate level and/or beyond; whether these attitudes change over time; and if there are geographical differences between nurses' attitudes within the U.S. The organizing framework was the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1985).

Actively licensed registered nurses on both U.S. coasts were randomly selected to receive mailed questionnaires: a socio-demographic questionnaire and the Attitudes Towards BSN Education Scale. A response rate of 19.4% was received. Analysis determined that the study sample closely resembled the general nurse population in the U.S. which, when coupled with excellent instrument reliability, allows for generalizations.

This study supported the role of professional development and advanced education in overall job satisfaction and a link between salary and advanced education. Few nurses felt social pressure to return to school nor did they receive encouragement to continue their eduction during their initial nursing program. Regarding attitudes toward continuing formal education Associate Degree nurses, and those nurses who had returned to school, held slightly more positive attitudes overall, but they rank barely above neutral. Attitudes do not appear to change over time based on years of practice nor differ by geographical location. The findings suggest that work needs to be done to improve nurses' attitudes toward continuing formal education and research needs to be undertaken to understand what would entice them back to school.