Patient mortality rates decrease and patient outcomes improve when hospitals staff more BSN-educated RNs. In recognition of this fact, and in light of the spiking demand for BSN-educated nurses, professional organizations, state leaders, and health care employers are joining forces to encourage Louisiana’s ADN-educated RNs to return to school for their BSN.
According to the Louisiana State Board of Nursing’s Annual Report for 2013, over the past four years there has been a 115 percent increase in the number of nurses enrolled in Louisiana’s RN to BSN programs. The graduation rate from pre-licensure BSN programs has also increased sharply over this same period, up by 84 percent.
The State of Louisiana is doing its part by allowing each nursing school to have autonomy when it comes to implementing the Louisiana Nursing Education Articulation Model. Since the merger of Louisiana’s community and technical colleges, RN to BSN programs have used the state’s articulation model to ensure academic transfer credits, including those earned through nursing experience, are adequately awarded to RNs entering BSN programs.
Coalitions of professionals are also playing an important role in encouraging nurses to earn their BSN. For example, the Louisiana Action Coalition (LAC) has created a tuition reimbursement program that encourages nurses to earn their BSN, especially those from an ethnic minority background.
Louisiana’s RN to BSN Programs
Louisiana’s nursing schools that offer RN to BSN programs provide an important pathway for nurses to improve their academic qualifications, which will undoubtedly translate into better professional and patient care skills.
To allow nurses to enroll in school while working, most RN to BSN programs have the option for distance or online learning. To further accommodate their students, many RN to BSN programs also offer flexible completion timelines, which range from 12 months to two years.
In addition to online programs, there are RN to BSN programs located throughout Louisiana, including in the cities of:
- New Orleans
- Baton Rouge
RN to BSN Program Admission Requirements
RN to BSN programs typically grant credit for candidates who have a nursing diploma, Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), AA, or AS degrees. Often times at least half of the entire BSN credit load can be substituted with these credentials, especially if they involved an emphasis on science. Credit can also be awarded for nursing experience.
Each of Louisiana’s RN to BSN programs can set its own admission requirements. These usually include:
- RN license
- Nursing diploma, ADN, AS, or AA degree
- Minimum GPA of at least 2.0 or higher
Each program will also have its own list of prerequisites that must be completed before nurses can start on BSN courses:
- General biology and biology lab
- General chemistry
- Anatomy and physiology, introductory and advanced
- General psychology
- Language arts and English composition
- Statistics and college mathematics
Program Outline and Structure
A BSN degree is comprised of the following approximate semester credits:
- 60 credits – undergraduate courses, typically what makes up an AA, AS, or ADN degree
- 30 credits – BSN nursing prerequisites
- 30 credits – core BSN nursing credits, including the clinical segment
In most cases the core BSN courses must be completed from the school of nursing and cannot be replaced by transfer credit. These are the courses that form the fundamental substance of the BSN program:
- Professional nursing practices
- Health and physical assessments
- Community health nursing
- Nursing management and leadership
- Advanced nursing concepts and professional practice
- Research in nursing
- Ethical and legal nursing issues
Completed as part of the final phase of the RN to BSN program and often including core courses, the clinical segment can take place at a health care facility such as a community clinic, long-term care facility, or hospital. Because BSN candidates will be working with vulnerable members of the public, the clinical segment can have its own requirements such as:
- Criminal background check
- Vaccinations and immunizations
- CPR and first aid certifications
- Liability insurance police
Many nursing schools have clinical agreements with health care providers at locations across Louisiana. This ensures that distance and online learners can complete a clinical program that is near their physical location. Clinical programs can be offered at places like:
- LSU Health Shreveport
- Baton Rouge General Medical Center
- West Jefferson Medical Center
- Lafayette General Medical Center
- Willis-Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport
- Feist-Weiller Cancer Center
- Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge
Incentives Available to RN-BSN Students in Louisiana
Louisiana’s private employers, and professional organizations all recognize that when nurses go back to school for their BSN, everyone wins. That is why each of these different segments of society offers incentives for nurses to complete an RN to BSN track.
BSN candidates can find scholarship and grant opportunities with virtually every nursing school they attend. Some of these programs include:
- Louisiana Council of Administrators of Nursing Education (LACANE) Award
- Louisiana’s Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS)
- Louisiana Go Grant
With a nod toward the impact a BSN can have on a nurse’s patient care, many employers throughout Louisiana also recognize that it is worth their while to invest in their workforce. That is why the following employers provide tuition reimbursement programs to help their own nurses return to school to earn a BSN:
- Ochsner Medical Center
- Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center
- Baton Rouge General Medical Center
- Tulane Medical Center
- Willis-Knighton Medical Center
- East Jefferson General Hospital
These professional organizations can also help steer nurses towards the RN to BSN program that is best for them:
- Louisiana State Board of Nursing
- The Louisiana State Nurses Association (LSNA)
- Louisiana Action Coalition (LAC)