According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, students who pursue an RN license through a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program are increasingly shown preference in the hiring process, as they are recognized as being more capable of meeting the changing needs of the healthcare industry as the country’s population ages.
In addition, the 2012 report Building and Sustaining a Nursing Workforce in Maine published by Maine Nurse Partners notes an increasing demand for highly trained nurses across the state, and called for 80% of the state’s nurses to hold a BSN or higher by 2020 in response to Institute of Medicine recommendations. As a result, Maine Nurse Partners is now developing a statewide nursing curriculum and improving student access to clinical rotations.
Although RN licensure is still available through the Maine Board of Nursing for both ADN and BSN prepared graduates, recent developments are increasingly making the BSN the preferred pathway to licensure.
Enrolling in a Pre-Licensure BSN Degree Program in Maine
In addition to flexible online options for working nursing students, there are five campus-based BSN degree programs in Maine located in the following cities:
- Fort Kent
Upon selecting a program, schools will require students to meet requirements such as the following prior to enrollment:
- Fill out the school’s application for admission and pay an application fee
- Send in letters of recommendation
- Submit transcripts from all high schools and universities attended
- Write a program-required essay
After sending in the required materials and gaining admission, students will complete lower-division general education and upper-division professional nursing coursework. At some institutions students will gain entrance to the BSN program prior to taking lower level classes, while at others they enter the BSN program through a second application after they complete these lower-level classes.
In both cases, degree programs typically require 120 credits to graduate, in classes such as:
- Fundamentals of Chemistry and Lab
- Basic Biology
- Introduction to Nutrition
- English Composition
- Anatomy & Physiology
Professional Nursing Classes:
- Nursing Care of Adults
- Human Genetics/Genomics in Nursing Practice
- Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing
- Health Care Informatics
- Community and Population Health
- End-of-Life Care
To complement in-class learning, all BSN degree candidates must complete clinical rotations, which typically require about 1,000 hours of practical training. Some institutions offer online simulations to cover a portion of this requirement, however students more often complete the required hours at a clinic or hospital working in conjunction with their academic institution. Among these are:
- Maine Medical Center in Portland
- Midcoast Hospital in Brunswick
- Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook
- St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston
Entering Maine’s Nursing Field as a BSN-Educated RN
Before gaining their RN license, graduates of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Below are the steps an applicant must take in order to register and complete the exam:
- Apply for a license with the Maine State Board of Nursing and pay a $75 application fee. The application will need to be notarized and applicants are also responsible for providing a 2” by 2’’ photo taken within the past two years. Unless their degree is from an out-of-state institution, applicants do not need to provide transcripts.
- Register with the testing company for the NCLEX-RN exam
- After receiving an authorization to test, schedule an examination.
- Take the NCLEX-RN exam
- If applicant passes the exam, the Board will confer an RN license.
Residency and Career Opportunities After Graduation
While there are no nurse residency programs yet for graduates of BSN programs in the state, facilities are beginning to offer these programs for master’s and doctoral nursing graduates. One such program is the Cardiac Nurse Residency Program at Central Maine Medical Center, which prepares nurses to work in acute cardiac care settings. This offers excellent career development opportunities for BSN-prepared RNs that opt to pursue an advanced degree and an APRN license.
Maine’s BSN prepared RNs are preferred over their ADN qualified peers and often exclusively qualified for a wide variety of the state’s more highly skilled nursing positions. These are among the jobs made available to BSN-educated RNs exclusively in February 2015:
- Clinical Consultant at Midcoast Hospital in Brunswick
- Respiratory Department Nurse Manager at Maine Medical Center in Portland
- Cardiothoracic Clinical Nurse at MaineHealth System in Portland