Factors that motivate RNs to return to school for the BSN and to remain in school to complete the degree

Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Higher Education

First Advisor's Name

Janice Sandiford

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Paul A. Rendulic

Third Advisor's Name

Kathleen Blais

Fourth Advisor's Name

Eric Wagner

Date of Defense



This exploratory descriptive study examined the factors that influence Registered Nurses (RNs) to return to school to pursue a Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) and the factors that contribute to the decision to remain in school to complete the degree. Students (N=226) enrolled in RN-BSN programs in three different universities in southeast Florida participated in the study by completing researcher developed questionnaires. The study group included 140 students who were newly enrolled in an RN-BSN program and 86 students who were preparing to graduate from an RN-BSN program. The instruments used in this study were two researcher developed questionnaires, the Corbett Nursing Educational Motivational Inventory - Form A (CNEMI-A), administered to the newly enrolled students, and the Corbett Nursing Educational Motivational Inventory - Form B (CNEMI-B), administered to the graduating students. The questionnaires included researcher-developed items in addition to items derived from a modified form of the Educational Participation Scale used by other researchers. Demographic data were also collected. Findings indicated that changes in health care, career goals, personal satisfaction, and flexible curriculum patterns are the major reasons why RNs return to school for the BSN. Less significant factors were social support, salary increase, and employer expectations. The factors considered most significant in the decision to remain in school to complete the degree were ranked in the following order: personal achievement, changes in health care, career change/advancement, enrollment options, faculty support, social support, and employer support. Implications for nurse educators related to the changing roles of RNs and the need to continue to assist RNs to adapt to new roles in health care. Recommendations for future research on RN-BSN nursing education included studies to identify the courses considered most useful by RN-BSN students as compared to courses considered repetitive of basic nursing programs. Studies were also recommended to examine the differences between the needs of RNs related to experience as an RN and recency of education. Additional studies were recommended to determine the feasibility of dual-enrollment ADN/BSN programs for last semester ADN students.



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