New program lets practicing nurses complete BSN
Beginning this fall, practicing nurses with associate degrees can expand their professional options by completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Carthage.
Applications are now being accepted for the new RN-to-BSN Program, which is designed for working nurses to complete their studies in as few as 21 months. Courses will be taught in a hybrid (online and on-campus) format.
Administrators plan to seek accreditation for the degree-completion program through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The CCNE previously accredited Carthage’s highly successful four-year BSN offering, which has grown 600 percent since its inception in 2015.
The new RN-to-BSN Program is open to licensed registered nurses with a minimum 2.75 GPA in previous coursework.
“We’re very excited to offer this program to the nursing community,” said Professor Frank Hicks, director of nursing at Carthage. “This allows us to increase the number of nurses with BSNs while offering the excellent liberal arts education for which Carthage is known and valued.”
Obtaining a higher degree offers several practical advantages. On average, nurses with a BSN earn 21 percent more in salary than those with an associate degree, according to nationwide surveys from Payscale.
The bachelor’s degree is fast becoming an industry standard. The Institute of Medicine reports that nurses with a BSN are better prepared for the increasing complexity of modern health care. Research supports that position, connecting the extra education to better patient outcomes.
Barely half of today’s nursing positions are open to RNs with two-year degrees, and a large majority of health care institutions — especially hospitals that hold the prestigious Magnet® designation — have a strong preference for BSN graduates. A bachelor’s degree also makes it easier to move into competitive specialties like pediatrics or oncology.
Professor Cheryl Petersen, assistant director of the RN-to-BSN Program, said Carthage offers several distinct advantages for nurses who want to continue their education.
“We have a generous transfer credit policy and a comprehensive support team, including a nursing faculty advisor, academic tutoring, IT assistance, and exceptional faculty,” she said. “As the department liaison to students from their first contact with the program until graduation, I’ll work to ensure that their experience is exceptional.”
General education courses will account for 40 of the 68 required credits in the RN-to-BSN Program, supplementing the specialized nursing classes. Going beyond technical proficiency, the curriculum instills essential skills like religious and cultural literacy, interdisciplinary collaboration, evidence-based practice, leadership, and critical analysis.
Combined with an online-learning component that meets working nurses’ needs, Prof. Petersen said “on-campus events will allow them to develop relationships and a true sense of community with fellow Carthage students, faculty, and staff.”
Prof. Hicks said the first cohort will be limited to about 10 students. Courses will run in seven-week terms, and students will have some flexibility to pause and restart their studies if necessary.