The Relationship Between Nurse Education Level and Patient Safety: An Integrative Review

Renee T. Ridley, RN, MSN, CFNP

  • Journal of Nursing Education
  • April 2008 - Volume 47 · Issue 4: 149-156
  • DOI: 10.3928/01484834-20080401-06


The relationship between patient safety and nurse education level has implications for current and prospective nurses, hospital administrators, policy makers, and nurse educators. This integrative literature review assesses the current state of science on the topic during a 20-year period, using the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality’s Patient Safety Indicators to measure outcomes. Twenty-four studies of variable quality were included. Although studies suggest that increasing RN dose (i.e., number of care hours) and skill mix (versus LPN) are associated with improved patient safety, evidence linking RN education level (i.e., BSN, ADN, diploma) is sorely lacking.


Ms. Ridley is Lecturer and Clinical Instructor, Department of Nursing, Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky, and a PhD candidate, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri.

Address correspondence to Renee T. Ridley, RN, MSN, CFNP, Lecturer and Clinical Instructor, 120 Mason Hall, Murray, KY 42071; e-mail:



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