RN-to-BSN program at Saint Martin’s to support nurses seeking professional growth

February 27, 2012

Nurse photoStarting this fall, Saint Martin’s University will offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree for registered nurses (RNs) seeking to further their professional development. A new addition to the University’s College of Arts and Sciences, the RN-to-BSN program will enhance the ability of nurses to work in today’s demanding health care environment and contribute to their communities in the spirit of service and stewardship.

“Saint Martin’s will serve RNs who want to strengthen their knowledge and skills in order to effectively support what is known as the ‘triple aim’ — better care for individuals, better health for populations and lower health care costs,” says Louise Kaplan, Ph.D., ARNP, FAANP, the newly appointed director of the RN-to-BSN program.

“The program is ideal for students in associate degree programs who wish to enroll in a BSN program upon graduation, as well as experienced RNs who want to expand their professional development by earning a BSN,” explains Kaplan. “Our program will prepare students to continue on to a master’s or doctoral program, will hone their professional expertise, and will ultimately improve the lives of those around them.”

Saint Martin’s RN-to-BSN program will fill an unmet community need and meet workforce demands in the state of Washington, according to Kaplan. She reports that the University was approached by local health care systems to consider developing the nursing program.

In preparation for the program launch, Saint Martin’s has been building relationships with regional institutions, including nearby South Puget Sound Community College, which offers an associate degree in nursing. Conversations are also underway between Saint Martin’s and health care organizations about potential partnerships to serve the needs of the surrounding community.

The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, a landmark report issued in 2010 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), recommended that nurses achieve higher levels of education through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression. The report called for the education of nurses to respond to the needs of an evolving health care system and the changing needs of patients, and to meet the increased demand for health care as access improves. Experts emphasize a need for nurses to acquire the right competencies to provide care and lead change.

Linda Tieman, executive director of the Washington Center for Nursing, applauds Saint Martin’s for starting the new program. “There’s a definite gap in the educational offerings for a nursing baccalaureate in Washington,” says Tieman, who observes that the state’s Action Coalition, formed in response to the 2010 IOM report, has established a goal to increase the proportion of RNs with BSN degrees to 80 percent by 2020.

“Nursing is a demanding field these days,” Tieman continues. “Only 43 percent of Washington state RNs have a BSN. Saint Martin’s is stepping up to meet a critical need. Without programs like Saint Martin’s, we will not have sufficient numbers of educators, researchers, managers and leaders in Washington state — now and in the future.”

Tieman adds that Saint Martin’s program is ideally located to reach out to southwest Washington students, noting it will be the only nursing program between Vancouver and Tacoma to offer a baccalaureate degree.

Class sizes will be small, offering students personalized attention from experienced, accessible faculty members. Saint Martin’s will work with incoming students to help them obtain maximum transfer credit, and will assist them with seeking new career opportunities after graduation. Students will be able to enroll for part-time or full-time study. Financial aid is available for students who are enrolled at least half-time.

For the RN-to-BSN program, Saint Martin’s has designed courses to develop critical thinking and the ability to translate research into practice. Coursework will also focus on health policy, ethics, leadership, care coordination, and the promotion of population health in the community. An integrative capstone experience will allow students to synthesize their learning and make it applicable to their future career plans. Students will have the opportunity to take electives, including a course on traditional Chinese medicine and evidence-based practice that will be developed in collaboration with the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Saint Martin’s Dean of Arts and Sciences Eric Apfelstadt, Ph.D., notes that the first cohort of Saint Martin’s new nursing program will be an important group of students. “They will be the early adopters of the program, and those who choose to be a part of it will help define it and establish its reputation,” he explains. “We’re looking for very special and committed students — students eager to learn in the unique environment of caring, community-focused instruction that Saint Martin’s provides.”

Prospective students interested in learning more about Saint Martin’s RN-to-BSN nursing program are invited to contact Kaplan at lkaplan@stmartin.edu or 360-412-6129. To be admitted into the program, individuals first must apply and be admitted to Saint Martin’s University. For information about the program, visit www.stmartin.edu/nursing.

Saint Martin’s University received accreditation for the RN-to-BSN program from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) in September 2011. The program will also be applying for accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a 380-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Everett College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at www.stmartin.edu.

For additional information:

Louise Kaplan, PhD, ARNP, FNP-BC, FAANP
Director, nursing program
Saint Martin’s University
360-412-6129; lkaplan@stmartin.edu

Sarah Holdener
Director of community relations and event management
Office of Marketing and Communications
Saint Martin’s University
360-412-6140; sholdener@stmartin.edu