Every year the Idaho Board of Nursing commissions a three-year strategic plan to identify and work towards goals that will improve the state’s overall quality of health care. In the most recently released strategic plan, the Idaho Board of Nursing identifies the goal of having 80 percent of its nurses hold at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) by 2020. As part of this goal, the Board aims to have the other 20 percent of its nurses hold at least an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN).
Evidence-based practices are at the forefront of every healthcare provider’s and every healthcare policy maker’s patient treatment plans. The evidence shows that as health care providers employ a greater percentage of nurses with at least a BSN, the patient mortality rate drops along with patient re-admittance. That is why the Idaho Board of Nursing has identified the 80:20 BSN-to-ADN ratio as being an ideal goal.
According to recent statistics released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Idaho Board of Nursing, the state has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to meet its ratio goal. Of the 12,150 RNs in Idaho, only approximately 4,212 have a BSN as their highest level of education.
Idaho’s pre-licensure BSN programs also prepare students to take the NCLEX-RN Exam so as to become licensed through the Idaho Board of Nursing.
BSN Pre-Licensure Programs in Idaho
Prospective students can find BSN programs at six schools located in four cities throughout Idaho:
The BSN degree is comprised of credits taken from three main areas:
- General undergraduate courses – around 15-20 semester credits
- BSN prerequisite courses – around 40-45 semester credits
- BSN core nursing courses – around 60 semester credits
BSN programs in Idaho are typically completed in segments. First a student gains admission to a college or university and completes all general and prerequisite courses. These courses can often be completed through online programs of study or at community and technical colleges. Next a student gains admission to a college or university’s school of nursing and completes around two years of upper-division core nursing courses. This will include a clinical segment.
Admission requirements and program curricula will vary somewhat according to the school. Idaho’s nursing schools can provide prospective students with scholarship, grant, and financial aid resources.
Admission to an Idaho BSN School of Nursing
Idaho’s BSN schools of nursing often have their own additional and more stringent entry requirements. To be admitted, candidates will typically need to have completed their BSN prerequisite courses while maintaining a minimum GPA. Other admission requirements can include a minimum score on the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS V).
In order to complete the clinical segment of a BSN program, students may also have to meet these requirements when initially applying to a BSN school of nursing:
- Criminal background check
- Drug and alcohol test
- Malpractice, liability, and health insurance
- CPR certification
- Up-to-date immunization record
- Tuberculosis test
Undergraduate and Core Nursing BSN Courses
As incoming freshmen students will need to begin by learning about their school of choice’s admission requirements. These will typically include a minimum GPA, SAT score, and character assessment. Prospective students should note that the school where they complete the first half of their four-year education – general courses and BSN prerequisites – can be an accredited online program or community college. Once complete, students can usually transfer to a college or university with a BSN program.
General university courses are part of a well-rounded bachelor’s degree program and can include the study of philosophy, history, and the arts. By knowing the BSN program’s prerequisite courses, students can take these as they complete their general course requirements. Typical BSN prerequisites are:
- Introduction to statistics
- General biology
- Introduction to psychology
- Introduction to microbiology
- Advanced anatomy and physiology
- Medical ethics
- Human biology
- English communication
Once admitted to the nursing component of a BSN program, nursing students can begin taking their core nursing classes that are part of the BSN major. These will include studies in the following course subjects:
- Professional nursing concepts
- Health assessment – lab and theory
- Mental health nursing
- Community health nursing
- Adult health nursing
- Leadership and management
- Nursing research
- Evidence-based practices
- Geriatric nursing
- Family health
BSN Clinical Segment in Idaho
Some of the core nursing courses are completed in a clinical setting. BSN clinicals can take place in a healthcare facility such as a hospital, clinic, or long-term care facility. Clinicals can be completed at any location where a nursing school has a clinical agreement. This can include locations that are far away from a nursing school’s physical location, including locations in different states.
Locations of BSN clinicals in Idaho can include:
- Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene
- Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise
- VA Medical Center in Boise
- Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls
Licensing and Career Opportunities for Idaho’s BSN Program Graduates
In addition to preparing students to be better health care providers, Idaho’s BSN programs also prepare their students to take the NCLEX-RN licensing examination. It is a stated goal in the Idaho Board of Nursing’s Strategic Place for the years 2013-2017 to have the state’s rate of passage for first-time test takers on the NCLEX-RN Exam to be above 80 percent.
Students can register for the NCLEX-RN through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The test itself is given by the testing agency Pearson VUE. Candidates can begin reviewing for this test by consulting the NCLEX-RN Examination Test Plan and the NCLEX Examination Candidate Bulletin.
Upon passing the NCLEX-RN candidates can fill out an RN Application for Licensure by Examination with the Idaho Board of Nursing.
With an RN license plus a BSN, nurses can apply for more advanced employment opportunities on top of traditional nursing jobs. BSN-educated RNs are found in the following numbers throughout Idaho’s health care provider field:
- Hospitals – 2,972 BSNs
- Long term care facilities – 178 BSNs
- Home health care and hospice – 249 BSNs
- Public health – 80 BSNs
- Occupational Health – 34 BSNs
- Medical office or clinic – 303 BSNs
- Nursing education – 76 BSNs
- School health – 110 BSNs
- Assisted living – 25 BSNs
- Insurance companies – 205 BSNs
- Jails and prisons – 26 BSNs
- Outpatient facilites – 196 BSNs