The Impact of Second-Degree Nursing Education on Diversity and Inclusivity

The Impact of Second-Degree Nursing Education on Diversity and Inclusivity

Second-degree nursing education refers to the accelerated programs individuals with an existing bachelor’s degree in another field can take to become nurses. Unlike a bachelor’s degree, a second-degree nursing program typically takes between a year and two years to complete. The duration of an accelerated nursing degree depends on the type of program you choose, the curriculum and the school. 

Second-degree nursing education improves inclusivity by providing students from underrepresented ethnic groups the opportunity to advance their careers. In this article, we will delve further into the impact and importance of second-degree nursing education on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). We will highlight the importance of DEI in providing comprehensive patient-centered care.

Understanding second-degree nursing education 

Second-degree nursing education allows individuals with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field to pursue a nursing career. Secondary degree nursing programs are also sometimes referred to as distance accelerated programs. This is because they have been designed to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills they need to become qualified registered nurses quickly. 

The aim of second-degree nursing programs is to encourage more individuals to pursue a career in nursing due to the shortage of RNs. So far, the programs have been a success as thousands of individuals seeking a career change or professional growth enroll in these programs yearly. 

Compared to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs that take four years to complete, second degrees typically take 12-24 months. Most accelerated nursing programs require students to complete 50-60 credits in person or online. Several universities offer a variety of study options for their Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) programs. Individuals can choose to enroll in classes for an intensive second-degree nursing program in person, online or both (hybrid learning). 

Just like the standard BSN programs, distance accelerated BSN online programs prepare students for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). With an ABSN, individuals can apply for their practice licenses. Programs such as the ABSN offered by University of Indianapolis cover a range of topics, such as holistic health assessments, cultural awareness, social and health policy, complex health care needs and other important fundamental knowledge needed within nursing. 

The impacts of pursuing a second-degree education on diversity and inclusivity

Over the last four decades, accelerated nursing degree programs have increased the percentage of underrepresented minority students choosing to pursue an international education. It has helps to foster a multicultural environment, leading to the need to improve the diversity in the nursing profession to provide comprehensive care to a diverse population. The following are ways that pursuing a second-degree nursing education impacts DEI:

An increase in diversity 

Accelerated nursing programs attract students from different educational and career backgrounds. The programs also offer individuals from non-nursing career backgrounds and underrepresented groups to enter the nursing profession. By pursuing a second-degree nursing education, you can promote inclusivity and representation in the nursing workforce. An inclusive and diverse nursing workforce promotes equity and improved healthcare.

Developing cultural competency 

Most universities include courses that address DEI and cultural competence in the curriculum of their second-degree nursing programs. These inclusive programs equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to provide equitable and inclusive care. By emphasizing the importance of cultural sensitivity, second-degree education teaches you cultural competence. By becoming a culturally competent nurse who can address health disparities, you can promote DEI. 

Boosts nursing workforce

There has been a massive shortage of registered nurses in the health sector. According to BLS, the need for registered nurses is projected to grow 6% from 2021-2031. On average, about 203,200 job openings for registered nurses are projected each year. Second-degree nursing programs are helping several countries address their shortages of nurses. These programs attract individuals from different countries and saturated professions who are seeking to switch career paths. Pursuing a second-degree education in nursing allows you to contribute and bring unique perspectives to the healthcare industry. This leads to more responsive and culturally sensitive care that promotes equity. 

Benefits of second-degree education promoting DEI in nursing

There has been an increase in diversity in communities and countries. This has brought about the need to have diverse healthcare staff with cultural competence to be able to treat individuals from different demographics. Major reasons nursing organizations, universities and governments are promoting diversity and inclusivity in nursing include:

New perspectives and valuable insights 

Second-degree nursing education supports a variety of viewpoints and insights into the nursing sector. Having nursing professionals with transferable skills from different sectors and industries will improve the distinctive perspective of patient care. Their individual and unique viewpoints can help resolve certain challenges affecting the quality of the healthcare being provided. A nurse with a previous background in psychology can better communicate with patients and help in training other nurses regarding how to address patients from different backgrounds. A diverse nursing staff supports a better understanding of others’ backgrounds and perspectives, improving cultural sensitivity and strengthening the quality of healthcare. 

Alleviates health inequities 

By improving DEI in the nursing workforce, governments are able to reduce the prevalence of health inequities in underserved communities. Health inequalities are the systematic differences in the health outcomes of different demographics. Health inequalities are major challenges the healthcare sector faces as they have severe social and economic consequences on societies and individuals. Diversity in nursing helps societies address these health inequalities. It helps communities and organizations understand and address the factors that contribute to health inequalities. Some of these factors include:

  • Language barriers
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Social and economic status 

By encouraging diversity in the nursing profession, we can ensure that minority groups have access to quality health care. A study has also shown that nurses are more likely to advocate for better healthcare programs in the communities they originate from. 

Increases patient health outcomes and satisfaction

Lack of diversity is a major factor affecting the quality of healthcare and high mortality rates in minority groups. Some patients feel more comfortable receiving care from someone who shares a similar background, language and cultural values. By having nurses from diverse backgrounds, healthcare providers have been able to improve patient health outcomes, satisfaction and trust in the healthcare system. This is because patients are likely to comply better with healthcare professionals from similar backgrounds. Individuals are drawn to a sense of familiarity, which in turn enhances the feeling of comfort and boosts patient satisfaction. 

Helps address the shortage of nurses 

Lack of diversity in nursing negatively affects some registered nurses. By being among peers of different backgrounds, they may start to feel isolated as they are unable to relate to anyone in the work environment. Lack of diversity causes misunderstanding and weakens the sense of camaraderie among nurses, which can negatively affect the quality of healthcare they provide. Aside from the quality of healthcare, some minority nurses have resigned or retired due to the lack of inclusivity and equity in the healthcare system. 

A diverse nursing workforce creates a strong feeling of inclusion and community among nurses. A workplace that feels safe and inclusive motivates nurses to provide quality care and advance their nursing career instead of leaving the sector. This helps address the shortage of nurses in the healthcare sector. Existing registered nurses will want to keep their jobs, and individuals from different backgrounds will be more motivated to pursue a degree in nursing. 

Supports the development of innovative healthcare solutions

Diversity encourages creativity in the nursing profession. Diverse nurse staff have firsthand knowledge of the cultural and economic factors affecting healthcare in their communities. When you have diverse nursing staff, the combination of their cultural understanding and relevance can help in identifying healthcare needs that have been overlooked. 

The combination of unique perspectives and experience can spark creativity and innovation in developing better healthcare interventions and care strategies. DEI promotes a collaborative environment that contributes to the success of research expansion and the development of evidence-based practices. By improving treatment methods and discovering new healthcare solutions, healthcare providers can deliver better patient-centered care. 

Is nursing a great option as a second-degree?

Choosing a degree to study or a career path to pursue can be quite difficult and overwhelming. Many individuals end up selecting a career choice they are not interested in or not cut out of. Second-degree nursing programs provide the opportunity for you to start afresh and pursue a career in an industry that offers financial and job security. Several universities offering second-degree programs offer scholarships, free tuition, grants and other types of financial aid. This makes it easy to continue education in nursing with little to no finances. A second degree in nursing education is a great investment with great returns. The benefits of pursuing nursing as a second-degree option include:

Job security

Nursing has a positive career outlook. The healthcare industry is constantly evolving and adding new areas of specialization and conducting research. This requires organizations to employ more nurses to participate in the research process and to work in the newly developed sectors. Factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in the older population have contributed to the shortage of nurses in the healthcare sector. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for registered nurses is predicted to increase by 6% from 2021-2031. There is predicted to be an average of 203,200 registered nurse job openings each year. By pursuing an ABSN, you can switch to a career that is always in demand worldwide and achieve job security. 

Financial stability and competitive pay

According to BLS, the annual median wage for registered nurses as of May 2021 was $77,600. Nursing is a profession that offers high earning potential. Depending on the area or sector of nursing you choose to specialize in, you can earn as much as $123,780 annually. The nursing sector also provides several opportunities for you to earn overtime pay. Aside from salary and overtime pay, healthcare institutions offer nurses benefit packages. What a benefits package includes varies from one institution to another. However, nurse’s benefit packages typically include:

  • Health and life insurance
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Retirement benefits
  • Paid vacation 
  • Childcare 
  • Wellness programs


Nursing offers flexible hours and scheduling. When you pursue a career in nursing, you have the option to work an eight, ten or 12-hour shift, depending on the employer. This allows you to select a shift that balances well with your personal life, especially if you have kids. You can also choose to work in a variety of settings. Some nurse work settings include, Hospital, School, Government organizations and military bases, Prison, Community centers etc.

If you prefer to explore rather than be confined to a particular healthcare environment, you can choose to become a travel nurse. Travel nurses can select the type of care jobs that work for them based on location and the shift. Also, some healthcare units offer nurses the option of self-scheduling to improve nurses’ overall wellbeing. A second degree in nursing provides you with flexible options, autonomy and control. 

Final thoughts 

By pursuing a second-degree nursing program, you can positively impact the nursing sector by improving representation in the healthcare system. Second-degree nursing education not only positively impacts the quality of healthcare provided but also has effects on society. It helps eliminate health inequalities in communities, which improves individuals’ access to healthcare. 

With the growing diversity of populations, achieving diversity, equity and inclusion in the nursing workforce is essential to providing competent patient care. By promoting DEI in nursing, the healthcare sector can also effectively address the shortage of registered nurses as more nurses will be encouraged to keep their jobs. Diversity and inclusivity are necessary for the development and success of the healthcare sector in any country.