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RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing in Kentucky

Reports over the past decade have repeatedly demonstrated the importance of staffing BSN-educated RNs. A 2005 study found lower mortality rates among patients discharged from acute care hospitals with a higher percentage of BSNs on staff. This was reaffirmed by a 2011 study that found a similar correlation between BSN-educated nurses and reduced rates of infection and mortality among patients.

That is why organizations like the AARP, Institute of Medicine, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are challenging Kentucky to work towards the goal of have 80 percent of its nurse workforce hold a BSN or higher.

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Statistics from the Kentucky Board of Nursing show that between 2007 and 2012 the yearly graduation rate for BSN-educated first-year nurses has remained more or less the same, with 1,142 BSN graduates in 2012. This lackluster growth rate is not a good sign if the 80 percent goal is to be realized.

More encouraging is the percentage of graduates from post-licensure RN to BSN completion programs. Starting with 737 RNs graduating from RN-BSN programs in 2007, the most recent count in 2012 showed there were 872 graduates of RN-BSN programs.

After completing a BSN program, nurses are eligible for internal promotions. Opportunities made available to Kentucky’s BSN-educated RNs as of February 2015 include:

  • RN Infection Preventionist with Norton Audubon Hospital in Louisville
  • Nurse Clinical Senior Manager with a major hospital in Lexington
  • Clinical Educator at the Norton Women and Children’s Hospital in Louisville
  • Infection Control Nurse with the Baptist Healthcare System in Louisville

RN to BSN Completion Programs in Kentucky

Kentucky’s RN to BSN programs give nurses a chance to earn a valuable education that will both improve their academic qualifications as well as their ability to provide the best possible patient care. Most RN to BSN programs are offered online, with opportunities to complete the clinical segment at locations throughout Kentucky.

In order to allow nurses to keep working while they attend school, many of these programs are also flexible enough to allow students to complete them in as quickly as one year, or can also be stretched out as needed over the course of multiple years.

In addition to online programs, campus-based RN to BSN programs are located in the following cities:

  • Richmond
  • Highland Heights
  • Bowling Green
  • Lexington
  • Grayson
  • Midway
  • Morehead
  • Frankfort
  • Louisville
  • Murray
  • Saint Catharine

RN to BSN Entry Requirements

Each RN to BSN program has its own specific entry requirements, however there are some common features among most programs:

  • Candidates should have a current RN license in good standing
  • RN diploma, ADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing), AS, or AA degree
  • May have a minimum GPA requirement, such as a 2.5 or higher
  • Entry into the BSN program often requires completion of general education courses
  • Some programs may require minimum test scores from examinations like the SAT, ACT, or NCLEX

Depending on the BSN program’s policy regarding a prospective nurse’s academic and work history, academic credit may be awarded for qualifications like:

  • Nursing diploma, ADN, AS, or AA degrees
  • Test scores
  • RN work experience

Each RN to BSN program also has its own unique prerequisite requirements. These are the courses that must be completed before BSN candidates can start taking their core courses. As such, prerequisites include classes like:

  • Anatomy and physiology I and II
  • Statistics
  • Microbiology or human biology
  • Introduction to psychology or sociology
  • Ethics
  • Principles of Chemistry
  • English language and composition

RN to BSN Structure and Core Curriculum

The RN to BSN track results in a full bachelor’s degree, and as such totals at least 120 semester credits. These credits can be roughly divided as follows:

  • ~60 credits come from general classes – having an ADN, AA, or AS degree usually will fulfill these credits
  • ~35 credits are from prerequisite courses
  • ~30 credits are from core BSN classes, including the clinical segment

Generally once nurses have made it through the prerequisites they can delve into the core courses of the BSN major. Many of these courses are completed as part of a clinical rotation:

  • Leadership and management
  • Health assessments for children, families, adults, and the elderly
  • Public health nursing
  • Nursing research
  • Complex health systems
  • Theories and concepts of professional nursing
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Nursing teaching and learning

Nursing clinicals can take place in health care settings that range from hospitals to neighborhood clinics and long term care facilities. Clinicals usually have their own requirements that nurses must meet, including CPR certification, vaccinations, and sometimes liability insurance.

The clinical training portions of an RN to BSN program can take place wherever the nursing school has a clinical educational agreement. This can include facilities like:

  • Lourdes Hospital in Paducah
  • Norton Psychiatric Center in Louisville
  • Baptist Health Madisonville
  • Baptist Hospital East in Saint Matthews
  • Chandler Hospital in Lexington

Incentives Available to RNs Returning to School to Earn a BSN

Nursing organizations, employers, and the state of Kentucky all recognize that everyone benefits when nurses are more educated. To achieve this end, organizations from all these sectors are doing their part to make a BSN more attractive for Kentucky’s nurses:

Scholarships are just one of the tools nurses can use to return to school:

  • Thomas W. Smith Nursing Scholarship
  • Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship
  • Darrel W. Richardson Psychiatric Nursing Excellence Award
  • Nursing Incentive Scholarship Fund (NISF)
  • AfterCollege-AACN Scholarship Fund
  • Baptist Hospital East Knowledge Program
  • The Greater Louisville Medical Society Alliance offers a number of educational grants
  • Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship Program (KEES)

Employers will also often offer tuition reimbursement and salary bonus programs to encourage RNs to return to school for a BSN. Health care providers in Kentucky that offer such benefits include:

  • Baptist Health Louisville
  • KentuckyOne Health
  • Kindred Healthcare
  • Norton Healthcare
  • Owensboro Health
  • Saint Elizabeth Healthcare
  • Commonwealth Health Corporation

RN to BSN candidates can find additional resources with organizations like:

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