Ideas Put into Practice – Not Tests – For Linfield’s RN to BSN Students

By Melissa Jones

Students entering the Linfield College RN to BSN program are pleasantly surprised when they notice that what is often a mainstay in college courses is missing from the course syllabi: tests. Linfield’s RN to BSN students are accustomed to most college courses, which test a student’s knowledge with exams or quizzes throughout a semester. However, this RN to BSN course of study allows students to take initiative in their learning, utilizing collaboration with colleagues, expressing insight surrounding the nursing profession and putting learned knowledge into practice as a way for instructors to assess their students’ knowledge of course material.

The Linfield RN to BSN program is offered 100% online. The beauty of the online degree format is the flexibility it provides for RNs working and juggling other life responsibilities. To ensure this flexibility, RN to BSN course instructors use online group discussions, written assignments, and scholarly papers to evaluate students learning. The online setting is the perfect environment for nurses who want to develop their professional skills in the nursing profession, as well as a format that enables students to work with a group of their nursing colleagues to develop and expand their professional practice.

In asynchronous, online group discussions, students and instructors strategize situations that will improve health care outcomes and nurture effective leadership in nursing and in healthcare. For example, in the course Stewardship in the Community, students discuss the American Associate of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) Standards and their involvement in establishing and sustaining healthy work environments. During I collaborative discussions students discuss examples from their own work settings related to safety, quality patient care outcomes, staff satisfaction and effective communication. Students collaborate with each other and the instructor to discuss the organization’s mission, philosophy and values, and ways to implement changes for improvement to impact the hospital environment, both for nurses and patients.

In addition to online discussions, students also write a paper to reflect upon and analyze other topics in the nursing profession. In the course, Transition to Professional Practice, students are asked to choose a target demographic, such as the elderly, and write a health promotion plan for a relevant issue that impacts this vulnerable group. For example, a student’s health promotion plan may focus on elderly individuals living alone who may be at risk if they were to fall. The health promotion plan would educate the target audience on preventative and improved health care solutions. Students are then asked to implement their plan in the community, evaluate the effectiveness of the health promotion education, and evaluate their effectiveness as an educator.

The decision to abandon tests, though surprising to most, has proven invaluable for Linfield RN to BSN students. RNs who are returning to college to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) have already completed a diploma or an associate degree program, in addition to the license exam to become an RN. Rather that testing students on the competencies or safety skills they learned as RNs, Linfield’s RN to BSN program assesses students on concepts to which they’ve had less exposure.

A typical nursing course focuses on the treatment of illness and disease. However, in Linfield’s RN to BSN courses, the focus of nursing broadens to include health promotion and disease prevention, community and population-based nursing care, as well as global health perspectives.

By interacting with a group of nursing colleagues in online discussions, participating in meaningful clinical projects, and completing thought-provoking written assignments, Linfield’s RN to BSN students develop enhanced skill in nursing and in leadership which provides them with immediate opportunities to advance in their profession.

How to Climb the Career Ladder as an RN through Completion of an Online RN to BSN Degree Program

U.S. News and World Report listed registered nurse as one of the top 50 careers for 2010.  Nursing has flourished during the recession compared to most other occupations. And job growth is expected to be much faster than average in the years to come — with 582,000 new R.N. jobs expected to be added between 2008 and 2018, a growth rate of more than 22 percent.

RN to BSN studentsNow more than ever, a baccalaureate of science in nursing (BSN) has become essential for career advancement in nursing and can qualify nurses to move up the clinical and professional ladder.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) maintains the position that a BSN degree should be the minimum educational requirement for professional nursing practice.  While graduates can begin practice as an RN with an associate degree or hospital-based diploma, the BSN degree is essential for nurses seeking to perform at the case-manager or supervisory level or move across employment.  In recent years, the BSN graduate has become the nurse preferred to practice in all health care settings and preferred by many employers who use the words “BSN preferred” more frequently in classified ads for registered nurses nationwide.

With a growing awareness about the positive outcomes associated with advancing to higher levels of education and increasing encouragement from employers who provide tuition support for RN-to-BSN programs, more and more nurses are returning to school to complete a BSN degree.  In order to meet the demand for BSN completion, nursing programs have responded by offering curriculum that is delivered in the online setting, the traditional classroom setting, or by using combined methods. Online learning has provided the RN student, who is usually employed and juggling multiple roles, with greater accessibility to attend class at times of the day that meet their needs.

In the typical RN-to-BSN curriculum, the nurse is prepared for a broader role that includes enhancing professional communication, theoretical perspectives, community and population-based nursing care, and leadership. The senior practicum hours are often spent working with nurse-preceptors in acute care settings as well as in community-based settings where the nurse can build on previous knowledge and enhance their effectiveness across the continuum of care. Many programs incorporate professional projects designed to meet the needs of the clinical agency from an evidence-based perspective while other activities include projects related to nursing leadership, health promotion, disease prevention, and the care of vulnerable populations. Overall, the BSN enhances nurses’ concepts of the profession and provides a wider range of experiences, allowing them to better adapt to an ever-changing health care environment.


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