JMU program designed to help nurses, patients
James Madison University is making it easier for registered nurses to earn a bachelor’s degree.
JMU has articulation agreements in place with Blue Ridge Community College and Lord Fairfax Community College that allow graduates of these schools’ nursing programs to enroll in Madison’s online RN to BSN program if certain minimum requirements are met.
Dr. Julie Sanford, professor and head of nursing at JMU, said the agreements reflect the university’s commitment to meeting the needs of health care providers in the region and are in line with a nationwide push to get 80 percent of registered nurses trained at the baccalaureate level by 2020. Many hospitals are now mandating that newly graduated RNs complete their bachelor’s degree within 24 months, and experienced RNs are strongly encouraged to move in that direction.
Research has shown that having nurses with BSN degrees or higher on staff results in fewer patient complications and better medical outcomes. “It’s better for the patient and it’s better for the hospital’s bottom line,” Sanford said.
The RN to BSN program at JMU, which originated in 2005, is now offered entirely online. Students can access course materials and complete assignments on their own time, allowing them to continue to work while they earn their degree. Full-time and part-time tracks are available.
Dr. Nena Powell, program coordinator and assistant professor of nursing at JMU, emphasized that the RN to BSN program is separate from Madison’s traditional BSN program. “Many [RNs] think there’s a waiting list for JMU nursing, but this is a separate program,” she said, adding, “We’re committed to meeting demand as much as we’re able.” A total of 27 students are slated to begin the program in the fall semester. A two-day orientation session will be held on campus Aug. 20-21.
In another move designed to increase program efficiency, JMU Outreach and Engagement, which has expertise in adult degree completion, is now handling administration of the RN to BSN program, including budgeting, marketing and support services. Faculty in the nursing department will continue to review applications for admission, provide instruction and oversee the curriculum.
August 8, 2013