Kentucky’s nursing students pursuing an RN license through a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program are eligible for a wider variety of nursing positions and earn higher pay than their ADN qualified peers.
According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 31.2% of Kentucky’s nursing students entered the workforce with a BSN degree in 2011. At the same time, the Wall Street Journal highlighted a trend where hospitals across the nation are increasingly eliminating mid-level positions in favor of hiring nurses for more highly skilled RN positions that require a baccalaureate degree. This means students with BSN degrees are increasingly viewed as more qualified and are being shown preference over their ADN counterparts in the hiring process.
Though the Kentucky State Board of Nursing does license both BSN and ADN candidates to practice as RNs, such trends make BSN degree programs an increasingly wise means of entering practice as a Registered Nurse.
Students who choose this pathway can also take advantage of incentives specifically for those pursuing Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees through the Kentucky State Board of Nursing’s Nursing Incentive Scholarship Fund. The fund provides financial assistance for Kentucky residents pursuing BSN degrees and can be used to cover living expenses in addition to degree program costs.
Enrolling in a Pre-Licensure BSN Degree Program in Kentucky
BSN pre-licensure degree programs in Kentucky offer students flexible night and online options, in addition to campus-based programs in the following cities:
- Mt. Sterling
- Highland Heights
- Crestview Hills
- Bowling Green
After selecting a program from one Kentucky’s academic institutions, students will generally need to meet these requirements before enrolling:
- Apply for admission to the academic institution and pay the application fee
- If student has completed 23 or fewer hours at another higher education institution, they must submit ACT or SAT scores
- Submit a letter of recommendation from a school or professional reference
- Send transcripts from all previous colleges or universities, if any
- If a student is pursuing a BSN as their second degree, they must have a 2.75 GPA in their first degree and a grade of ‘C’ or higher in their general education coursework at their previous institution of study
BSN Program Course Outline and Clinical Experience
Once these requirements have been met, students may enroll in lower-level general education and upper-level Bachelor of Science in Nursing coursework. While both levels must be completed prior to graduation, timing for admission to a BSN degree program varies among schools. At some institutions, students are admitted to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program immediately, prior to completing general education courses. At others, students complete these general education requirements and apply to the BSN program afterward.
In either of these models, schools typically require students complete 120 credits to graduate, in coursework such as the following:
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Chemistry for Health Professionals
- Composition & Communication
Professional Nursing Courses:
- Foundations for Professional Nursing
- Principles of Microbiology
- Fundamentals of Adult Nursing Care
- Family-Centered Care of Adults with Common Health Problems
- Healthcare Systems
- Nursing Care of Childrearing Families
- Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing
Alongside coursework requirements, BSN degree students in Kentucky must complete a clinical rotation in a hospital or clinic. Some institutions offer online options or on-campus simulations to satisfy a portion of the required hours. More typically, however, students will complete these hours at a medical facility in partnership with their degree program. Among such institutions are:
- Cardinal Hill Hospital
- Kentucky Children’s Hospital
- Tanbark Healthcare Center
- Central Baptist Hospital
Entering the Nursing Field in Kentucky as a BSN-Educated RN
Before working as an RN, BSN degree program graduates must apply to the Kentucky Board of Nursing for licensure, pass the NCLEX-RN exam, and satisfy other requirements listed below:
Kentucky RN Licensure Process & Taking the NCLEX-RN Exam
- Apply for a license with the Kentucky State Board of Nursing and pay the $100 application fee
- Take an online jurisprudence exam through the Board
- Have fingerprints taken and sent to the state police
- Pass a federal and state criminal background check
- Register with the testing company for the NCLEX-RN exam and pay a $200 exam fee
- After receiving an authorization to test, schedule an examination. Candidates who have registered but have not yet taken the exam may be granted a temporary RNA (Registered Nurse Applicant) permit by the Kentucky State Board of Nursing
- Take the NCLEX-RN exam
Residency and Career Opportunities After Graduation
In keeping with calls from the Kentucky Nursing Action Coalition for a more qualified nursing workforce, many of the state’s medical facilities now offer nurse residency and other transitional options for BSN degree graduates as they enter the nursing field.
UK Healthcare – This hospital in Lexington offers a one-year program aimed at new BSN degree program graduates and provides them with additional education opportunities and a supportive network of expert nurses. The program places specific emphasis on critical thinking skills, leadership, communication, research-based practice and patient safety, making for a smooth transition into practice as a highly-qualified RN.
KentuckyOne Health – The New Graduate Nurse Residency Program at KentuckyOne Health is a twelve month program offered twice yearly for graduates of BSN degree programs. Through a combination of unit-based orientations, department-specific educational programs and monthly workshops, the program aims to build confidence in skills in recent graduates.
In addition to these opportunities, graduates of BSN degree programs are preferred over their ADN qualified peers for a variety of highly skilled nursing positions. Below are only a few of the many positions in Kentucky which require baccalaureate preparation:
- Clinical Research Nurse in Lexington
- Emergency Room Nurse Manager in Louisville
- Director of Medical-Surgical Services in Salyersville