This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Green light for online RN-BS

Demand, workforce needs prompt return of program

Published: February 13, 2012

The School of Nursing has received approval by the state education department and SUNY to reinstate its 12-month online RN-BS program.

The program is designed specifically for nurses who have completed a community college (associate’s degree) or hospital-based nursing program (diploma) and have passed the New York State licensure examination (NCLEX-RN) for registered nurses.

According to Susan Grinslade, clinical professor and chair of UB’s undergraduate nursing department, the UB RN-BS will supplement and build upon the core nursing knowledge all RNs achieve prior to licensure and was re-established in part because of inquiries from community partners Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Catholic Health.

“The health care environment is more complex and ever-changing,” says Grinslade. “The newly designed RN-BS program is innovative, accessible for the working professional and designed to develop the nurse as a bedside leader to transform the delivery of patient-centered, safe and quality nursing care.”

The online program will help the nursing workforce in Western New York and possibly across the state move toward the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations to have 80 percent of nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level by 2020. The program also will complement New York State’s “RN to BSN-in-Ten” proposal, which recommends that community college and hospital-based graduates get a baccalaureate in nursing within 10 years.

“These recommendations are related to current research indicating that even a 10 percent increase in a BS-prepared, RN workforce directly decreases the morbidity and mortality of current patients,” says Grinslade.

She adds that the program is not just about meeting state and institutional recommendations. There are RNs who want the BS in nursing but don’t have access to a university-based school of nursing, either because of time or distance.

“Our online program enables nurses in rural areas to complete their degrees from home without distant travel. Our virtual classes also allow the nurse with family obligations and/or scheduling issues to access educational materials at his or her convenience around a family or work schedule,” she says.

The key attributes of the program are that it is student-centered and in a user-friendly, distance-learning/asynchronous format; that it is offered in a cohort format to ensure cost-effectiveness; and that it builds on previous education and experience without redundancy while mirroring the current traditional BSN program curriculum.

Grinslade explains that by admitting students in cohorts they will be able to get to know and work with others within their cohort. She adds that it also will allow students from a specific health system to work with one another on class projects—their familiarity with their respective organizational cultures and nursing practices would give them shared knowledge on which to build.

The School of Nursing plans to admit its first RN-BS cohort in May 2012. The application will be available on the school’s website after March 1.

While the program is completely online, Grinslade says students will be required to come to campus prior to matriculation for an intensive orientation and to meet fellow students and faculty. After that, communication throughout the program will be done virtually.

“Of course, we hope our students will come back to campus for their graduation ceremony and remain as active alumni once they graduate,” she says.