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Preparing for a More Complex Health Care Landscape: RN to BSN Programs in North Dakota

North Dakota has the distinction of being the only state that has ever required the bachelor’s as a requirement for practice as an RN. The mandate was rescinded in 2003; nurses can once again enter the field with an ADN. There are still a lot of reasons, though, to consider getting a BSN. Key nursing organizations across the country continue to see the associate degree as more of a stepping stone than a terminal degree. Some of their arguments have to do with quality of care. A number of studies have found links between higher levels of nursing education and a reduction in adverse events. The whole healthcare system, moreover, is becoming more complex. As graduate level nurses take on roles traditionally reserved for doctors, bachelor’s level nurses take on the responsibility of coordinating care across a variety of settings and roles. Organizations like the Institute of Medicine have called for sharp increases in the proportion of nurses with baccalaureate education.

Some nurses complete their bachelor’s to enhance their career opportunities and compete with other BSN-prepared nurses. As you can imagine, the state has many of them! What can you expect to learn through baccalaureate level study? BSN completion programs cover advanced nursing concepts not typically found in the associate level curriculum. Public and community health gets considerable attention in the BSN program; you will likely be asked to put in some hours at a local agency. The BSN also teaches health assessment. You can expect an introduction to evidenced-based practice and clinical research as well as nursing leadership. You may also be asked to fulfill the school’s prerequisite classes and complete a few other general studies classes. These are not fluff; in “The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice”, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing cites better communication skills and problem solving abilities in baccalaureate level nurses.

BSN Career Mobility

Career mobility is among the main reasons that registered nurses choose to complete their baccalaureates. This may mean a new role as case manager or nurse manager, or it may mean a lateral move to a premier healthcare facility. There are two magnet hospitals in North Dakota, both in Bismarck. As of 2011, magnet hospitals are required to have at least 75% of their nurse managers hold BSN degrees or higher. This is not a mandate for patient care positions. A scan of positions at the St. Alexius Medical Center (May 2011) reveals that there are indeed positions for nurses -- even Graduate Nurses -- at the ADN level. Positions like care coordinator or PALS coordinator, though, list the BSN as a preferred qualification, and some specialized clinical RN positions require it.

RN to BSN Program Considerations

How does a nurse juggle the competing demands of work, family, and school? And will she find a choice of programs -- or any program at all -- if she lives in a frontier part of the state? The good news is yes. Programs accommodate the needs of working professionals and of rural residents. Enrolling in a BSN completion program does not mean you will need to go to campus on a daily, or even weekly, basis. Many classes are offered entirely, or almost entirely online. You may find online courses without a clinical requirement. It is typical, though, to be required to put in some hours at a community health setting. Some programs have one or more other classes that include practicum work. Clinical hours, if required, can generally be completed in your own community. You can choose how fast you want to move through the curriculum.

RN to BN Programs in North Dakota

Dickinson State University

Minot State University

North Dakota State University

University of Mary

University of North Dakota

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