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Why would you want to return to the classroom for another degree? RN to BSN Programs in Montana

You’re already successful as a registered nurse. You’ve moved up the ranks from your novice days, and you’ve grown adept at meeting the day to day challenges on your ward. Why then would you want to return to the classroom for another degree?

It’s partly about meeting the challenges of tomorrow’s healthcare system, including increased access and increased diversity. A related reason can be found in the terrain of the Treasure State: very rural. The Institute of Medicine, which has published several well-known reports about failings in the medical system, believes that the future of healthcare depends on interdisciplinary teams sharing resources across the community. The IOM has set a goal of having 80% of the nursing workforce educated at the baccalaureate level within a decade -- by the year 2020.

Other organizations, including the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), have also called for a steep increase in the number of nurses educated at the baccalaureate level. The AACN emphasizes that the baccalaureate isn’t just for community health nurses. Hospitals that employ higher proportions of bachelor’s level nurses have lower mortality levels. Increasingly, hospitals are making distinctions between RNs based on education level and reserving various positions for those with higher training.

What will you learn in a BSN completion course? Community and public health nursing is a cornerstone class. This is one area that is not emphasized in ADN or diploma programs but is a must for making healthcare accessible in a frontier state like Montana. Health assessment, nursing scholarship, and healthcare leadership are among the other courses that you will typically find in an RN to BSN program. Clinical requirements are generally significantly less than in pre-licensure programs, but they vary by institution.

Montana BSN Career Mobility

A baccalaureate degree can be very helpful for a nurse who wants to move up to a leadership position such as manager or director. Magnet hospital like the Billings Clinic are required to have 75% of their nurse manager positions staffed by nurses who hold at least a BSN. Many other hospitals in the state also list the BSN as a preferred qualification.

Higher level management positions, like surgical services director, may list the baccalaureate as a minimum requirement. Some clinical positions are also advertised as BSN-preferred. This includes a variety of high stakes wards like ICU and cath lab. Other BSN -preferred positions include care manager and quality specialist.

RN to BSN Program Considerations

Even in a rural state, you have opportunities to continue your nursing education without moving or changing your place of employment. Schools use systems like Desire2Learn to bring classes into your home. There are also hybrid courses which require you to attend classes on-site only a few times per semester. You may choose a Montana program or an out-of-state one.

People often refer to an associate degree as a two year degree and a baccalaureate as a four year one. The reality is often different, particularly in a field like nursing. Once prerequisites are figured in, an ADN often takes well over two years of full-time study. Policies vary, but you may well have less than two years of study ahead of you. You may in fact be further along than you realize. At Salish Kootenai College, an associate’s takes about three years while a fourth can allow you to complete your baccalaureate. At the University of Great Falls, you spend about eighteen months (including summers).

The cost is also variable. At the University of Great Falls, classes are $427 a unit for general students. This is typical, though you will find programs that are both above and below this rate. If your employer has a partnership with a school, though, your fees may be much less. Some employers also list tuition reimbursement as a benefit. You may not be footing the bill yourself -- or at least not all of it.

RN to BSN Programs in Montana

Montana State University - Northern

Salish Kootenai College

University of Great Falls

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