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A Nursing Education Redesign for California: RN to BSN Programs in California

Why might a practicing RN consider enrolling in a BSN completion program? The California Institute for Nursing and Health Care (CINHC) recently addressed this issue. Nurses need advanced problem-solving skills in order to apply evidence-based strategies in an increasingly complex and technologically advanced healthcare system. CINHC wrote in “Nursing Education Redesign for California” that just 26% of California’s ADNs are choosing to continue their education at the baccalaureate level. This rate is higher than the U.S. average but still not high enough to meet the state’s needs.

BSN nurses can take on all the roles that ADN nurses can, and some additional ones as well. Why? An RN to BSN program typically includes coursework in health assessment, nursing informatics, and scholarly research. Community nursing and healthcare leadership classes are also included.

California schools have a lot of innovative programs. You may put together an experiential learning portfolio as you progress through your courses. You may also do a final capstone project that hones your skills and allows you to make a difference in your community.

While it is possible to find a program without clinical requirements, most do include some practicum work in areas such as community nursing, leadership, and caring for older adults. The number of hours, though, is usually much less than in a pre-licensure course and it can be easy to work around your schedule.

BSN Career Mobility

A bachelor’s degree is required for many positions both in the hospital and in the greater community. In California, public health nurses must have baccalaureate level education and certification. Many BSN programs do meet the educational requirements for certification (though you may need to take an additional class that includes reporting requirements for child abuse). With a bachelor’s and public health certification, you can work in areas like disease prevention, maternal health, and outreach; the latter role might include health screening, case management and coordination of resources.

The baccalaureate is not just for public health workers, however. Employer also favor BSN candidate for management and for many direct care positions. This includes some critical care and emergency positions at premier institutions. Magnet hospitals are renowned for quality and also for their ability to hire and retain excellent candidates. California has fully 23 healthcare institutions with magnet recognition. Some institutions do compensate baccalaureate nurses at a higher rate.

RN to BSN Program Considerations

Chances are good that you have already done at least half of the units you will need. At Sonoma State University, for example, ADN graduates can expect 60 to 70 credits depending on what’s actually on their transcripts. How long will those remaining units take you? It depends on how fast you want to move through the coursework. At California State University-Northridge, most students are on a three year track, but some do the program in two At Azusa Pacific, the program typically takes 15 months.

Schools work hard to make their programs work for busy professionals. You might attend school one or two evenings a week and you might meet closer to home than the actual university setting. It’s also an option do classes in your own home or workplace. Many schools, both public and private, use e-learning systems to bring learning to you.

Like most things in California, education doesn’t come cheap. There are things you can do to reduce costs, however. If your employer has tuition reimbursement benefits, you may see the bulk of your costs covered. (It depends on your pacing; if you do too many units per year, it may fall above the allowable amount.) Some universities allow you to challenge certain courses; by reducing the number of classes you need for your degree, you can reduce total costs. What do California schools charge for RN to BSN courses? It varies by school, but a fee of about $500 per unit or ($20,000 for program) is typical.

RN to BSN Programs in California

Azusa Pacific University

Biola University

Brandman University

California State University (multiple locations)

Fresno Pacific University

Holy Names University

Loma Linda University

Mount Saint Mary’s College

National University

Pacific Union College

San Diego State University

San Francisco State University

San Jose State University

Sonoma State University

Vanguard University of Southern California

West Coast University

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