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RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing in Montana

Over half of Montana residents live in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs), in which finding a health care provider is difficult, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. In December 2014, an institution in Montana received a $10.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to research health issues encountered by rural Montanans. These include Native American health issues as well as general rural health problems. The increasing health care needs of rural Montanans is one reason that Montana is experiencing a nursing shortage and is in need of more RNs who have BSN degrees.

A $15 million federal grant to Montana by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2014 is expected to help the state add 10,000 new health care jobs by 2022. According to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, the state will need 1300 new health care workers every year through 2022. This is driving initiatives designed to encourage existing RNs to return to school to enroll in RN to BSN completion programs so as to be qualified for positions in leadership and nurse education.

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RN to BSN Degree Programs in Montana

RNs who wish to earn their BSN degree in Montana must choose a RN to BSN program approved by the Montana Board of Nursing. A list of such programs may be found on the Board’s website. In addition to brick and mortar schools, many online programs offer Montana’s RNs the chance to earn a BSN degree. Campus locations are located in:

  • Bozeman
  • Helena
  • Online

Prerequisites for RN to BSN Degree Programs in Montana

Most Montana nursing programs have prerequisites that students must meet prior to entrance into a RN to BSN program. These usually include holding a valid Montana RN license; holding an ADN; having a minimum GPA in one’s ADN program (usually 2.5 to 3.0, depending upon the school’s policies); being up to date on immunizations, first aid and CPR certification; and completing coursework such as:

  • Writing
  • Statistics
  • Human Nutrition
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Development Over the Lifespan
  • Chemistry
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology/Infectious Diseases

RN to BSN Courses and Program Structure

The Montana Action Coalition is working to ensure that a common curriculum is established for nursing programs, so that schools all offer the same types of courses to their RN to BSN students that build on existing ADN education.

There may be upper and lower division courses required in a RN to BSN degree program in Montana. Examples of course titles that students are usually expected to take in the nursing portion of the program include:

  • Professional Nursing
  • Ethics of Nursing
  • Clinical Nursing
  • Health Assessment Across the Lifespan
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacotherapeutics
  • Psychosocial Nursing
  • Care of Child and Family
  • Acute and Chronic Illness
  • Community Nursing
  • Psychiatric Nursing
  • Case Management
  • Urgent Care
  • Leadership in Nursing
  • Practicum

Clinical rotations are generally minimal and made easily accessible through local institutions. Examples of healthcare facilities accommodating clinical placements in Montana include:

  • Community Medical Center- Missoula
  • Stevensville Community Medical Center – Stevensville
  • Central Montana Medical Center- Lewistown
  • Providence St. Joseph Medical Clinic – Ronan
  • Pioneer Medical Center- Big Timber
  • Great Falls Clinic Medical Center- Great Falls
  • Sweet Medical Center- Chinook
  • Glendive Medical Center- Glendive
  • Barrett Hospital and Healthcare – Dillon
  • VA Bozeman Clinic- Bozeman

After Earning a BSN

BSNs in Montana may go on to pursue graduate nursing education. With a master’s or doctoral degree, a RN can work as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), earning higher salaries and being eligible for jobs such as nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist and nurse anesthetist. Examples of graduate degrees pursued by Montana BSNs include Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Programs are offered in state and online.

Internal hiring for jobs related to leadership, education, and those that involve more clinical responsibilities is common for staff RNs that have gone on to complete BSN programs. Internal hiring opportunities have been extended to BSN-educated RNs in the following healthcare facilities as of February 2015:

  • Supervisory RN – Great Falls
  • Director of Nursing – Plains
  • Pediatrics Nursing Director- Missoula
  • School Nurse- Billings
  • Medical Oncology RN – Missoula
  • Process of Care Coordinator-Bozeman
  • NCLEX RN Instructor- Helena
  • Surgical RN – Great Falls
  • Hospice RN – Billings
  • Clinical Coordinator RN – Billings

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