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A Call to Action: RN to BSN Programs in Illinois

On May 25, 2011, Illinois nurses met for a webinar to discuss the BSN in 10 movement. Will it eventually be mandated that the state’s RNs complete their baccalaureate degrees within ten years of entering the field? Time will tell.

Many nursing and healthcare organizations are issuing a strong call to action with regard to baccalaureate level education. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that there are multiple studies showing better patient outcomes at hospitals that employ high percentages of baccalaureate-prepared nurses. The Institute of Medicine notes that the healthcare system itself is in need of major overhaul. The focus needs to shift away from acute care and toward prevention and management. A highly educated nursing workforce could be key to making this vision a reality. The IOM has set a separate goal: 80% of the workforce should have BSN level education by 2020.

Already many Illinois nurses are choosing to complete their baccalaureate degrees. If you choose to join the RN to BSN movement, you can expect some coursework in advanced clinical care. Your course of study might include health assessment, pathophysiology, and pharmacotherapy. Your classwork will also prepare you for roles around the community. You can expect classes in community health and nursing leadership. There is frequently (but not always) a practicum in one or both of these areas.

Healthcare research is another frequent course offering. There may be a capstone project that allows you to integrate your learning and serve your community. Some electives may also be included; this gives you a chance to tailor the program to meet your own needs.

BSN Career Mobility

Higher education can make you competitive for some interesting positions. Care coordinator and case manager are among the roles that favor candidates with at least a baccalaureate deree. Health education positions may also require you to hold a BSN or be actively pursuing one.

Some clinical positions also favor BSN candidates. Magnet hospitals are known for their ability to hire highly educated nurses for both direct care and managerial roles. Illinois has an impressive 33 magnet facilities.

A number of Illinois employers do compensate BSN nurses at a higher rate. If your ultimate goal is advanced practice, the BSN can also bring you closer. Graduate level nurses tend to have a lot of responsibility -- and a salary to show for it.

RN to BSN Program Considerations

The Illinois Articulation Initiative makes it easy to transfer your credits into a BSN program. As an RN, you have already got quite a bit of college coursework out of the way -- probably well over half of the total units. Lakeview College of Nursing, for example, award registered nurses 76 units.

There are schools with evening attendance options. For many nurses, though, online learning is the most feasible choice. There are also various hybrid options. At McKendree College, most nursing courses are taught in the classroom, while general studies courses are available online. Taking an online program doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have clinical (practicum) experiences. Kaplan University, for example, has students do clinical work in conjunction with their capstone project.

A degree program may be expensive, but Illinois employers can be quite generous when it comes to offering tuition reimbursement. Some medical centers have partnerships with local schools that allow students to take classes on-site at a reduced cost. In these cases, the per unit credit may be less for the RN to BSN than for other undergraduate adult courses.

RN to BSN Programs in Illinois

Aurora University

Benedictine University

Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing

Bradley University

Chicago State University

Eastern Illinois University

Elmhurst College

Governors State University

Illinois State University

Kaplan University

Lakeview College of Nursing

Lewis University

McKendree College

Methodist College of Nursing

Millikin University

North Park University

Northern Illinois University

Olivet Nazarene University

Resurrection University

Rockford College

Saint Anthony College of Nursing

Saint Francis Medical Center

Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville

Trinity College of Nursing and Health Sciences

University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Saint Francis - Illinois

Western Illinois University

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