KOKOMO, Ind. — By 2020, the Institute of Medicine recommends that at least 80 percent of registered nurses have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Indiana University Kokomo stepped up to that challenge, partnering with hospitals in north central Indiana to offer its R.N. to B.S.N. program on site. Its cohort program offers nurses who have earned an Associate of Science in Nursing (A.S.N.) the chance to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) in their own communities, in one year.
This is one way we can be a partner in our region, to help area health care providers meet their goals of getting their nurses educated with a high-quality bachelor’s degree,” said Angela Heckman, assistant dean for the R.N. to B.S.N. track. “Our program is very different and innovative from other programs because of the way we offer it at the hospitals and online. We take it to where the nurses are, to make it convenient for them to attend class one night a week, and be able to complete a bachelor’s degree.”
Cohorts at IU Health North Hospital in Carmel and IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie will graduate in December, and a new cohort began in August at IU Kokomo. During the spring semester, new groups will begin at IU Health Ball and IU Health Arnett Hospital in Lafayette, with cohorts starting in August 2019 at IU Kokomo and Riverview Health in Noblesville.
The hospitals provide classroom space and educational equipment, and also reach out to A.S.N. nurses to inform them of the opportunity. Many offer tuition reimbursement as well, Heckman said.
IU Kokomo also has offered the program at Logansport Memorial Hospital and IU Health Tipton Hospital.
IU Kokomo School of Nursing faculty teach the courses, offered one night per week. Students also complete online modules, to complete two classes every eight weeks.
The prestige of an IU degree, in a convenient format, attracted Tammie Unland to enroll. As a pediatric nurse at IU North and a busy mother of five, going to class one night per week, from 3 to 7 p.m., was doable with her schedule. She also was able to complete a portfolio to get credit for some of her accomplishments during her career.
Being a nurse for 28 years, there is a lot I’ve done,” she said. “To get college credit for that experience was huge. It’s convenient for me to go straight from work to class, and then get home at a reasonable hour to see my family. The professors have been very available if we have questions.”
Unland said if her husband’s job would require her family to move, having a B.S.N. will make it easier for her to find a job.
“Most employers are looking for B.S.N.-prepared nurses, and there is a push to get that degree, and to get an advanced practice degree,” she said. “At the same time, there are very few of us who are experienced nurses who still practice at the bedside. That’s something I can offer an employer. Having that experience plus a B.S.N. would give me an advantage over other applicants.”
The program has made her a better nurse, she added.
I think it’s made me a more well-rounded nurse,” she said. “I used to look at nursing very much from a task-oriented perspective. The B.S.N. has prepared me to look more at quality and being proactive about how we can prevent diseases if possible, instead of treating them after the fact. It’s pushed me to look at ways we can look at our practice to see if there’s anything we can streamline, and improve care.”
Heckman said because the students are working nurses, they aren’t required to do clinicals, but complete projects with a relevant issue in their current practice.
It’s related to what they’re doing every day, helping them to be better nurses with continuing education,” she said. “We’re showing them the bigger picture of nursing other than the bedside care. That’s a piece of it, but there’s a bigger picture.”
Heckman said the program is life-changing for the nurses who complete it.
This is one step to help them reach their professional development goals,” she said, adding that many of the R.N. to B.S.N. graduates continue into the campus’ Master of Science in Nursing program.
They want to have professional growth in their careers, and this is a starting point.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.