After a two year planning process, Western is set to introduce an in-person and online hybrid Bachelor of Science degree in nursing for certified registered nurses in fall 2013.
Following the high state and nationwide demand for nurses with a B.S. degree, Western has completed all the requirements to start the program. The degree will be available for students who have completed a certified nursing program at a community college or another four-year university and have passed the state board examination, or for recent graduates anticipating their testing date.
Dr. Mary Baroni, visiting professor from the University of Washington and interim nursing program director, calls the program a “3+1,” meaning students will have already completed three years of school to receive their Associate of Arts degree and come to Western for one additional year to receive their Bachelor’s.
The curriculum will include classes such as nursing courses, experiential learning and e-portfolio preparation.
“It’s been our experience with other RN-to-BSN programs that if you structure the curriculum well, with the appropriate support, they can do it, given [that most] of them are working full-time and many of them have families,” Baroni said.
The program is an in-person and online hybrid, catering to the type of non-traditional students Baroni foresees participating.
Western senior Luc Nguyen, 22, co-president of the Pre-Med Club, is studying cellular and molecular biology, and plans to attend medical school after graduating. Although nursing is a hands-on profession, he understands the convenience of having an online portion of the BSN program.
“When it comes to learning concepts and learning information about the body systems and how they work, sometimes students learn better when they go at their own pace,” Nguyen said.
He emphasized the importance of having field experience in the program as well.
The program will run on a cohort model, meaning the students will enter in groups and will complete all of the courses together.
“We really want to foster a community of inquiry that’s supportive, and students will hopefully learn as much from each other as they do from the faculty,” Baroni said.
The program will start off traditionally in the classroom to build community and gradually incorporate online components.
Kaci McCauley, 18, a sophomore at Whatcom Community College, is currently studying for an AA degree in nursing and hopes to apply to a bachelor’s program. She wants to apply to Montana State University, but said the program at Western is more convenient for her because it’s so close to home. She’s also worried about her prerequisites and credits not transferring if she chooses to go to MSU.
“There’s just technical things I have to go over with transfering from out-of-state,” McCauley said. She said Western’s prerequisites are similar to MSU’s, but the program is more accommodating to her community college credits.
For students already attending Western, or who desire to attend Western their freshman year, Baroni suggests seeking advising and a “1+2+1” model that has yet to be implemented. The student would complete nursing prerequisites at Western, take a partial leave to complete their nursing coursework at a partnered community college and return to Western for their fourth year along with others who completed the “3+1.”
The curriculum is based on national standards, and The American Association of Colleges of Nursing name their foundation standard as an education based on the arts, sciences and humanities.
“The concept of just knowing nursing skills [is] necessary, but they need so much more to be very effective and advocate for patients and families,” Baroni said.
The program is just getting off the ground this fall, but Baroni hopes it will lead to a solid program. “If we’re successful with that first cohort I wthink we can then increase to two cohorts at least and then down the road we may be looking at a Master’s program as well,” Baroni said.
The program is starting with a small, borrowed faculty from different deaprtments on campus and one cohort in their first year.
The application is close to completion and the priority deadline is set for April 1.
“We’re anticipating a fairly competitive process, so we’re going to encourage people to apply early,” Baroni said.