According to a 2014 article in the Boston Globe, Massachusetts’ healthcare system will increasingly require the more advanced skills of BSN prepared nurses as the state’s population grows older and as more experienced nurses begin to retire. Despite such demand, however, the Massachusetts commissioner on higher education noted there are still far fewer nurses with BSNs than the state needs.
In fact, the need at hospitals and clinics for BSN prepared nurses is so great that in 2012, the state launched programs specifically designed to recruit and train nurses at the baccalaureate level. Although the Massachusetts State Board of Nursing awards RN licensure to both ADN and BSN prepared graduates, students are wise to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing as a pathway to practice as a Registered Nurse in light of such developments.
Students pursuing baccalaureate-level nursing preparation programs in Massachusetts can also take advantage of financial assistance through the Massachusetts Nursing Association. Through a partnership with National Nurses United, the association offers scholarships for Women’s Global Health Leadership courses and other nursing enrichment opportunities. Massachusetts also sets aside Title VIII grant money annually for nursing students pursuing baccalaureate degrees, and gave away nearly $90,000 in 2013 alone.
Enrolling in a Pre-Licensure BSN Degree Program in Massachusetts
Working students in Massachusetts can select from convenient evening and online course options, in addition to campus-based degree programs in the cities below:
- South Lancaster
- Chestnut Hill
- North Dartmouth
Upon selecting one of these programs, schools generally require that students meet a few requirements prior to enrollment. Some typical requirements are:
- Fill out the school’s application for enrollment and pay an application fee
- Provide transcripts from high school and all colleges attended, if any
- Provide two professional reference letters
- Provide a resume
- Write a personal statement essay
- Maintain a minimum GPA in prior coursework if student is returning for a second degree
BSN Program Course Outline and Clinical Requirements
Upon admission to their program of choice, students complete general education and professional nursing coursework. At some institutions students are admitted to the nursing program upon enrollment, while others require students complete a separate application process for the nursing major after general education classes.
Both program formats typically require students complete a total of 120 credits for graduation. Courses might include:
- General Chemistry
- Introduction to Psychology
- College Writing
- Human Nutrition
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Cultural Diversity in Health & Illness
Professional Nursing Courses:
- Principles of Nursing Care
- Writing in Nursing: Ethics
- Pharmacology in Nursing
- Maternal-Newborn Nursing
- Nursing Care of Children
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing
- Acute Nursing Care of Adults
- Chronic Nursing Care of Adults
- Community-Based Nursing
All Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree programs require students complete a clinical rotation to complement their in-class learning. Some programs offer online simulations to satisfy a portion of the required hours, however most place students at clinical sites in the local community. Among the types of sites students can choose from are:
- Family practice and community health clinics
- OB/GYN and pediatric offices
- Specialty and urgent care clinics
- Nursing homes and long-term care centers
Entering the Nursing Field in Massachusetts as a BSN-Educated RN
Prior to working as an RN in Massachusetts, BSN graduates must also apply for an RN license with the Massachusetts State Board of Nursing and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. The Board contracts their application process out to a third-party company, so applicants will send materials to Professional Credential Services instead of directly to the Board. If they are flagged in the character screening process, however, they must send supporting documentation directly to the Board for review.
Taking the NCLEX-RN Exam
Below are the steps an applicant must take prior to registering and completing the exam:
- Apply for a license with through Professional Credentialing Services and pay the $230 application fee.
- Register with the testing company for the NCLEX-RN exam and pay the $200 exam fee.
- After receiving an authorization to test, schedule an examination.
- Take the NCLEX-RN exam.
- Candidates who fail the exam must wait 45 days to retake.
Residency and Career Opportunities After Graduation
In addition to the incentives Massachusetts offers students enrolling in BSN programs, hospitals also offer residency programs to promote further competency for BSN graduates as they enter the workforce. Among these are programs at the following medical facilities:
Baystate Medical Center in Springfield – Listed among the country’s top 100 hospitals by Truven Healthcare Analytics, their Nurse Residency Program offers unit-specific orientations and mentored clinicals where new nurses partner with dedicated RN Preceptors to enhance competency in adult acute care and medical/surgical expertise.
Beverly Hospital in Beverly – Beverly Hospital’s 16-week New Graduate Nurse Internship Program facilitates transition into professional practice exclusively for BSN prepared RNs. In the program, new nurses attend classroom sessions, hands-on workshops and learn from expert preceptors.
In addition to such residency programs, graduates of Massachusetts’ BSN degree programs enjoy greater career opportunities and are qualified for a wider variety of positions than their ADN-prepared peers. Below are a few such positions available exclusively to RNs with baccalaureate preparation:
- Radiology Staff Nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston
- Ambulatory Nurse – Clinical & Translational Study Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital
- Adult Psychiatric Clinical RN at MetroWest Leonard Morse Hospital in Natick