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Investing a Little More of Yourself in the Profession: RN to BSN Programs in Vermont

Vermont’s nursing workforce site is called “Choose Nursing”. Perhaps you’ve already chosen nursing, though, and you’re considering investing a little more of yourself in the profession. Nursing has a well-defined career ladder. If you’re practicing as an ADN, it can be relatively easy to take your education to the next level and earn a baccalaureate.

Why do nurses who are already licensed as RNs choose to further their education at the baccalaureate level? Sometimes they are motivated by a desire for better positions. There are larger goals as well. Studies have linked baccalaureate education to better patient outcomes. Nursing organizations like the American Nurses Association and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing are staunch supporters of baccalaureate level education. The AACN believes it should be the standard for professional nursing. ANA supports the ADN as an entry level RN degree, but believes nurses should complete their BSN within ten years.

Nurses who enroll in BSN completion programs study nursing assessment -- understanding a patient’s condition is, after all, key to providing good care. BSN students also learn community and public health nursing, beginning research skills, and leadership.

BSN Career Mobility

Vermont’s nursing workforce site lists nursing career possibilities and their typical educational requirements. A number of positions are appropriate for both ADN and BSN nurses. There are additional positions that are listed as being more appropriate for nurses at the BSN level. Some are high-stake hospital positions: emergency room, critical care, and operating room. The operating room RN, after all, has multiple roles, acting as a liaison to the patient’s family as well as assisting in the monitoring of vital signs. Other positions for BSNs are found in a variety of locations around the community. They include community/ public health nursing and school nursing.

In Vermont, an RN must have a bachelor’s degree to practice as a public health nurse. The bachelor’s does not necessarily have to be in nursing. If you have, in addition to your ADN, a bachelor’s degree in some related field, you meet the requirement. For most nurses who choose this path, though, a BSN is necessary.

Magnet hospitals often prefer to hire candidates with BSNs. Vermont has two magnet facilities, Rutland Regional Medical Center and Southwestern Vermont Healthcare. A scan of job postings (May 2011) reveals that most positions for RNs are listed as “BSN preferred”. Case management positions require a BSN at both institutions.

RN to BSN Program Considerations

Vermont has two in-state RN to BSN programs, and they may appeal to students with different needs. The BSN completion program at Southern Vermont College is on-campus and takes two years. Some students continue directly from the school’s ADN program. Students from diploma programs (or non-accredited programs) will need to take the National League for Nursing mobility examinations to validate learning.

The program at the University of Vermont incorporates distance learning and caters more to working professionals; there is one short on-campus health assessment course that takes advantage of the school’s simulation lab. The BSN completion program is generally completed part-time over three to five years. There are clinical experiences in public health nursing which may be arranged in a student’s own community. The university does accept CLEP credits for some lower level general studies.

Students have additional options from schools around the nation. Since RN to BSN programs confer a degree and not a license, they can easily be completed online. There are programs that have no clinical requirements. In some cases, they can be completed in as little as one year. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice what school will work best for you.

RN to BSN Programs in Vermont

Southern Vermont College

University of Vermont

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