In 2010, the Institute of Medicine published a report to address a current health care crisis surrounding the delivery of quality patient care and positive patient outcomes. The report sought to highlight solutions that would strengthen the profession of nursing and encourage collaboration with other health care professionals to improve the health care system. One of the IOM’s recommendations is to grow the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate of science in nursing by 2020. This suggestion is based on a body or research that demonstrates an inverse relationship between nurses’ educational preparation and adverse patient outcomes. Studies found that facilities with a high proportions of BSN prepared nurses have lower mortality and failure to rescue rates. Experts agree that there is a significant need to improve the educational level of nurses by providing opportunities to continue formal training.
Nurses form the largest group of health care professionals so it easy to understand why the burden of improving patient care and outcomes rest upon them. Since the majority of nurses gain access to practice through associate degree nursing programs, the best way to boost the percentage of nurses with a bachelor’s degree is to facilitate a seamless transition to the BSN or MSN degree.
The magnitude of the nursing shortage in Iowa exceeds that of other states. Associate degree programs produce graduates to alleviate the burdens caused by the needs of the aging baby boomer population and the retirement of 21 percent of the existing workforce. Though nurse graduates can fill vacant positions, they create a greater complication with their lack of preparedness to cope with the treatment of patients who are living longer with more complex health conditions. The BSN program prepares registered nurses to practice in a wide range of settings. The additional focus on management and leadership, patient education, nursing research and clinical skills are essential for the movement towards preventative and primary care. Registered nurses will benefit from the acquisition of an expanded body of knowledge that they will draw from when treating complex cases. They will also move towards a patient-centered approach that includes disease prevention, the assessment of patient risk, management of patient outcomes, and quality improvement. BSNs are also better prepared to advocate for the health of patients, families, and populations and the profession, and through their understanding of political and organizational processes, they may contribute to the development of standards in practice.
Patients deserve the best in care. The commitment to increasing the BSN workforce will ensure nurses have the skills and clinical fortitude to offer evidence-based care to every patient. The commitment of the nursing schools in Iowa is to facilitate the transition to the BSN for registered nurses and to make it feasible and enjoyable for those who make this tough decision.
Benefits of Progressing to a BSN Degree
The national emphasis on increasing the education of the nursing workforce and the promotion of lifelong learning is all well and good. However, registered nurses face a multitude of real and imagined barriers to academic development. These barriers include but are not limited to time, cost, geographically location, and balance. Given the call to boost the minimum educational level of the numerous associate degree graduates who enter the workforce, nurses must overcome these barriers to completing the baccalaureate degree. In 2010, only 16 percent of ADN graduates went on to earn the BSN. Today, that number has increased as educators, employers, and nursing associations collaborate to build a workforce of nurses who are educationally qualified to pursue graduate study and become nurse educators.
Though Magnet Status is hailed as the “gold standard” for nursing excellence, the emphasis for employers is to create an environment where nurses and patients can prosper. The program, developed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, serves as a guide for patients to identify the quality of care they can expect based on the satisfaction of the nurses employed at these institutions. The hospitals that achieve the Magnet designation are in the minority. They are the ones who have developed a culture that encourage professional development and autonomy, use of clinical judgment, and nurse involvement in key decisions. They also support ongoing education for their nurses and promote leadership. Through the efforts to improve job satisfaction, Magnet hospitals are renowned for the quality of patient outcomes. Nurses there continuously outperform other nurses not only for their educational achievements but also due to enhanced interdisciplinary collaboration. That being the case, education plays a vital role, as studies prove that more education is essential for nurses to produce the patient outcomes and satisfaction rates achieved at Magnet organizations.
The Future of Nursing Initiative, led by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), recommended that 80 percent of the nursing workforce should be prepared at the BSN level by 2020. As a result, employers have shown their support for higher education for nurses through the hiring of more BSNs and the training and development of existing employees. Efforts to support higher education have reaped rich rewards for hospitals and other health care employers through the reduction in patient mortality rates and complications. Nurses who demonstrate skills in communication, collaboration, critical thinking, leadership, and clinical judgment also improve patient safety and surgical outcomes, and diminish failure to rescue rates.
Those who earn a baccalaureate degree place themselves in the best position to further their knowledge through graduate study. Graduate programs build on the foundation of the BSN and open the opportunity for graduates to work as a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife or other specialized areas of nursing. The online RN to BSN program simplifies the decision to continue learning. They are flexible, convenient, and designed especially for working nurses to balance work and life with educational goals.
RN to BSN programs are partly responsible for the historic shift in the number of nurses who earned baccalaureate degrees. Although more nurses enter the workforce with the associate degree, BSNs outnumber ADNs because many nurses are using the flexibility of the RN to BSN program to complete the BSN degree in 12 months. Ultimately, the accelerated program lets nursing students earn the bachelor’s degree in less time than it takes to complete a traditional BSN program.
Requirements for Enrollment in an RN to BSN Program
The two-year associate degree puts nurses to work in a shorter time than it would take to complete the four-year BSN. The program attracts numerous adults who cannot afford four years of college. It prepares them to take the NCLEX for Registered Nurses and equips them with the basic technical skills to provide safe and effective patient care.
The RN to BSN program builds on the foundation laid by the associate degree to encourage critical thinking and a broader perspective of the health care system, public health, and health care policy to prepare nurses for roles in leadership.
As a working nurse, you’ll greatly appreciate the flexibility afforded by the online RN to BSN. All programs are not the same, so consider the duration and flexibility of the course schedules. Also, the content should meet your needs, especially if your career goals include specialty nursing. The curriculum should cover the principles of evidence-based practice, which is the direction of practice today. The incorporation of real-world nursing is also valuable, as they will help you to use your acquired skills on the job as you learn them.
The RN-BSN program is designed for the practicing nurse who wants to complete the requirements online. Students earn the BSN after completing a minimum of 120-semester credits. The credits transferred will be based on an evaluation of the coursework completed in an accredited associate degree program. Course topics include professional nursing, nursing research, nursing leadership and management, advanced concepts of pathophysiology, and nursing capstone. Supporting courses must be completed before commencing the core nursing courses.
Admission requirements for the RN-to-BSN program:
- A completed RN-BSN application
- Official academic transcripts of all college courses and high school. Transcripts must be sent directly from the school to the university.
- Copy of current nursing license
- Letters of recommendation confirming academic ability to complete the program
- Interview with nursing faculty
- An associate’s degree in nursing from an accredited college
- Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
Upon acceptance to the program, students will need to submit additional documentation to participate in the clinical experience. These may include proof of immunization, background check, mandatory reporter training, healthcare provider CPR, completed adult/dependent child abuse form, record of physical exam, proof of health insurance, and bloodborne pathogen training. Prerequisite courses might include human anatomy and physiology, statistics, chemistry, and introduction to microbiology.
The estimated cost of completing the RN to BSN program is $13,200 in Iowa. Additional costs include immunization, textbook, background check, supplies, and miscellaneous fees.
Iowa RN to BSN Programs:
Cedar Falls, IA RN-BSN programs:
7009 Nordic Drive, Cedar Falls, IA 50613
Cedar Rapids, IA RN-BSN programs:
Mount Mercy University
1330 Elmhurst Drive Northeast, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
Davenport, IA RN-BSN programs:
St. Ambrose University
1320 West, Lombard Street, Davenport, IA 52804
Des Moines, IA RN-BSN programs:
Grand View University
1200 Grandview Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50316
Mercy College of Health Sciences
928 6th Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50309
Dubuque, IA RN-BSN programs:
1550 Clarke Drive, Dubuque, IA 52001
Fayette, IA RN-BSN programs:
Upper Iowa University
605 Washington Street, Fayette, IA 52142
Iowa City, IA RN-BSN programs:
The University of Iowa
108 Calvin Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242
Lamoni, IA RN-BSN programs:
1 University Place, Lamoni, IA 50140
Mount Pleasant, IA RN-BSN programs:
Iowa Wesleyan College
601 North Main Street, Mount Pleasant, IA 52641
Orange City, IA RN-BSN programs:
101 7th Street Southwest, Orange City, IA 51041
Sioux City, IA RN-BSN programs:
Briar Cliff University
3303 Rebecca Street, Sioux City, IA 51104
1501 Morningside Avenue, Sioux City, IA 51106
St. Luke’s College
2800 Pierce Street, Suite 410, Sioux City, IA 51104
Waterloo, IA RN-BSN programs:
1990 Heath Street, Waterloo, IA 50703