The minimum educational requirement for RN licensure through the Alaska Board of Nursing is an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), although there is a clear trend toward achieving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in response to the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation that 80 percent of all nurses hold BSN degrees by 2020.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, BSN-educated nurses are better equipped to respond to the complexities of today’s healthcare system and the diversified responsibilities required of them. This particularly true as healthcare shifts from inpatient care to more preventative, community-based care.
As of 2013, there was just one Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program in Alaska, which has posed many challenges for this state, particularly during a time when the need for professional registered nurses continues to grow. In 2013 alone, 51 qualified applicants in Alaska were turned away from nursing programs, primarily due to a faculty shortage.
Due to a lack of baccalaureate nursing programs in Alaska, online programs for nursing students have become a convenient and appropriate alternative. Online BSN programs in Alaska allow students to complete their clinical rotations through local healthcare institutions. Many online programs also allow students to complete their coursework through part-time or accelerated scheduling.
Pre-Licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programs in Alaska
A BSN pre-licensure program, whether on campus or online, is designed to provide students with both a theoretical and clinical base designed to allow them to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate the proper course of action in a number of healthcare settings. BSN programs are also designed to meet the needs of individuals, families, groups, and communities with different healthcare needs.
Although an associate degree in nursing (ADN) meets the minimum requirements for RN licensure, many nursing students with their sights set on long term career opportunities often choose to pursue a BSN as a way to ensure they are equipped to handle a greater level of clinical responsibility, as well as fill supervisory and teaching roles.
Admission Requirements for BSN Programs in Alaska
Nursing students that apply for BSN programs are first admitted as nursing pre-majors, though declaring nursing as a pre-major does not guarantee admission to the nursing major. The first two years of a BSN program are spent completing undergraduate requirements. As students are about to complete all prerequisites, they must then apply to the nursing major.
Because spaces are usually limited for college or university nursing programs, students must ensure they earn a strong GPA among their general education courses. Other requirements to enter the nursing major often include letters of recommendation and strong scores on pre-admission examinations.
Course Content Found in Alaska’s BSN Programs
Undergraduate coursework includes classes such as:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Organic chemistry and biochemistry
- Critical/creative thinking
- Logic and philosophy
- Oral communications
- Humanities/fine art/social science
Major courses in a BSN program include:
- Technology and nursing informatics
- Foundations of nursing
- Pharmacology in nursing
- Research in nursing
- Complex care
- Nursing management
- Nursing therapeutics
- Clinical nursing
Upper-division courses of a BSN program usually consist of about 42 of the 126-credits that comprise the degree program.
Clinical Requirements of BSN Programs
Coursework includes classroom study that is supplemented by on-site clinical experiences in local hospitals and other healthcare settings. Just a few of the hospitals in Alaska where students may complete their clinical rotations include:
- Providence Alaska Medical Center, Anchorage
- Alaska Native Medical Center Hospital, Anchorage
- Bartlett Regional Hospital, Juneau
- Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, Juneau
- Sitka Community Hospital, Sitka
Applying for the NCLEX-RN and Qualifying for RN Licensure in Alaska
Students who have successfully completed a BSN program are eligible for RN licensure in Alaska through the Board of Nursing. Eligible candidates must first complete, sign, and notarize an Application for Registered Nurse by Examination and enclose a check or money order for $275 (made payable to the State of Alaska), as well as a fingerprint card for a criminal background check.
The application process also includes taking and passing the NCLEX-RN through Pearson Vue. The NCLEX-RN is a standardized national examination used to determine a candidate’s competence and proficiency to become licensed as an RN. Pearson Vue has a testing center in Alaska, although candidates may take the NCLEX at any of Pearson Vue’s national locations.
RN licenses in Alaska must be renewed biennially on or before November 30 of even-numbered years.
Alaska RN Residency Programs
Although not a requirement for working as an RN in Alaska, many hospitals offer RN residency programs for new RN graduates. These programs, which provide guided, clinical experiences, labs and simulations, and career development guidance, are designed to turn new graduates into competent and professional practitioners.
Two of the largest residency programs in Alaska are located at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage and Alaska Providence in Anchorage. These programs have strict eligibility requirements for candidates, which include possessing a current Alaska RN license and a minimum GPA of 3.5 from their nursing program.