OHIO announces RN-to-BSN program to be offered through Community College Partnerships
Ohio, like many states, is facing increasing demand for skilled health care workers as the baby boomer population continues to age. In fact, the statewide turnover rate for registered nurses was 14.4 percent in 2008, with a 4.9 percent vacancy rate, according to the Ohio Hospital Association.
Ohio University’s School of Nursing is working to fight that trend through access to affordable education by way of a revitalized distance learning program that provides the opportunity for working RNs to earn a bachelor’s degree.
"When you upgrade your education, you’re more valuable to your employer,” explains Mary Bowen, director and associate executive dean of Ohio University School of Nursing. “There’s more opportunity for job growth and promotion,” she adds, “and job satisfaction often increases, along with other factors that keep employees happy and increase productivity. The RN to BSN students today are the future leaders of nursing.”
The degree plan, designed for students who have completed most or all prerequisites as part of their associate degree or nursing diploma study, includes 12 nursing courses that can be taken online from home. Each can be completed in five weeks by viewing lecture videos and participating in online discussion forums. Other general education and support courses a student may need to meet graduation requirements can be taken from a student’s local community college or from Ohio University, at one of its six campuses or online, if offered in that format.
There are multiple points during the year when students can begin the program, which is now accessible through two options. Beginning in 2010 the program will be offered through the University’s online bachelor completion program, which facilitates a seamless transition from associate to bachelor’s degree by working closely with nine partner community colleges across Ohio: Columbus State Community College, Central Ohio Technical College, Cuyahoga Community College, Hocking College, Lorain County Community College, North Central State College, Owens Community College and Washington State Community College.
The RN-to-BSN Academic Outreach Initiative, launched in 2009, creates working relationships between Ohio University and health care facilities in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky, to provide employees of those facilities access to the program.
“We wanted to improve our outreach to all of Ohio and adjoining states,” Bowen says. “Since we were already in the process of redesigning our curriculum, we wanted to improve our platform to increase flexibility and access to the curriculum.”
A Change in Timeframes
Ohio University School of Nursing Professor Kathy Rose Grippa explains that the school determined it was crucial to update the length of the online courses it offered. The courses, previously offered on a ten-week schedule, were shortened to a five-week schedule. Grippa says the expectation is that students will take one course at a time.
“The students take the same number of courses,” Grippa says, “but the advantage of the five-week schedule, one course at a time, is that it allows you to focus and concentrate on that particular content.”
And from a technical perspective, Grippa adds, a change was due. Technology has advanced a great deal over six years,” she notes. “We changed the look and length and face of how the course is presented, in addition to revising the content.”
Bowen adds that the RN to BSN program also was designed with the demands of the marketplace in mind.
“We understand the need for baccalaureate-prepared nurses in hospitals and other agencies, due to the need for improved patient outcomes,” she says. “And many hospitals are trying to hire as many baccalaureate-prepared nurses as possible.”
There is a direct connection to “magnet status,” a nursing industry term that denotes a hospital having the distinction of nursing excellence and a high percentage of BSN-qualified nurses. Such status, Bowen says, tends to improve patient outcomes. She adds that the Ohio University School of Nursing is committed to helping students thrive within the system.
“We really want to offer a flexible, well-priced education to associate degree or diploma-prepared registered nurses,” Bowen says. “This will provide the opportunity to advance their education in a quality and cost-effective manner.”
In maintaining the goals of the program, the school can equip its students with the most ideal means of helping themselves help others.
Applications now being accepted
Applications to the RN-to-BSN program through the community college partnership are now being accepted. To view more information about required courses and the transfer of credits from any of the nine partner institutions, choose Community College Partners in the left column and chose your community college.