Date of Conferral







Leslie C. Hussey


Entry into professional nursing practice in the United States occurs at varied education levels including a diploma, an associate degree, and a baccalaureate degree. These multiple entry levels into practice create a situation where academic preparedness for nursing practice varies, which may influence the professional behavior of nurses and, consequently, patient care and outcomes. The purpose of this quantitative comparative study, guided by Miller's wheel of professionalism in nursing, was to determine if there is a difference in the professional behaviors of associate degree prepared registered nurses (RNs) compared to the professional behaviors of baccalaureate degree prepared RNs. The Behavior Inventory for Professionalism in nursing (BIPN) survey was emailed to RNs in Florida with a final sample size of 112 which yielded 56 in each group. Data were analyzed using the independent t-test. Results indicated a statistically significant difference in the means of total weighted scores of BIPN between the two groups of RNs in the state of Florida (p = 0.002; d = 0.58). These findings support studies that have addressed that the level of nursing education is an important factor of nursing professionalism. It would be worthwhile for the study to be replicated in other states. Such information can be used to support the rationale for a single-entry level into nursing practice at the baccalaureate degree level, which can lead to positive social change for the nursing profession.