The recent overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system as well and an aging society have helped highlight the need for higher educational standards for registered nurses. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has called for 80% of all nurses to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or higher by the year 2020. This has caused North Carolina’s nursing community to take a closer look at the availability and accessibility of BSN programs.
The Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses Initiative (RIBN) was created to provide a partnership between universities and community colleges in North Carolina to help facilitate a seamless transition between general undergraduate study and core nursing courses. The North Carolina Board of Nursing is working to ensure that the nursing workforce in the state is adequately educated and is intent on meeting the IOM goal of having 80% of the nursing workforce educated at the bachelor’s-level or higher by 2020.
In 2012, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing released results of a study showing that more than 77% of employers show a hiring preference to candidates with a BSN, and more than 39% of employers now require the BSN at minimum for staff RNs. These percentages will only continue to rise as 2020 gets closer.
New students coming into the field can begin their study at a community college before transferring credits to a nursing program to complete the pre-licensure BSN. With the 2020 deadline fast approaching, North Carolina understands the need to prepare as many new nurses at the bachelor’s-level as possible if the state is to meet the new standards. North Carolina is well positioned to achieve this goal since it has the second highest number of nursing programs in the southern United States.
Enrolling in an Online or Campus-Based BSN Program in North Carolina
Today’s nursing students have very busy lives that require flexible scheduling for college courses. Because of this, many online BSN programs have come on the scene and are available at many of North Carolina’s universities, or as transfer programs at community colleges offering nursing studies.
After choosing a BSN program, students should be prepared to complete admission documents and send in high school transcripts. Previous college transcripts, if applicable, will often result in transfer credits.
In addition to online programs, schools that offer BSN programs are located across North Carolina including in the following cities:
- Chapel Hill
What to Expect from a Pre-Licensure BSN Program
BSN pre-licensure programs are often highly competitive. Most schools in North Carolina offer programs that begin twice a year, usually fall and spring. Each school will have specific requirements for nursing program candidates, but minimum requirements typically include the following:
- Complete Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) within a testing period.
- Minimum GPA of 2.8
- All science and math pre-requisites must have been completed within 10 years prior to applying to the BSN program
BSN programs are typically comprised of a 125 credit curriculum. General education studies are scheduled during the freshman and sophomore years. Some of the courses that can be expected to be required include:
- Math – Fundamentals of Algebra and Triganometry
- Biology – Biological Science and Introduction to Anatomy
- General Chemistry and Lab
- Intro to Psychology
- Intro to Human Development
During the final two years of the BSN program, students will be enrolled in nursing specific courses. Examples of courses that may be required include:
- Community Health Nursing
- Contemporary Issues in Nursing
- Adult Health
- Applied Ethics
- Nursing Informatics
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing
BSN Program Clinical Experience
Clinical experience is part of the BSN program regardless if choosing online or traditional classroom training. Two of the hospitals in North Carolina that provide nursing clinicals include:
- North Carolina Baptist Hospital – Winston Salem
- University of North Carolina HealthCare – Chapel Hill
Residency programs are offered at various hospitals and clinics within the state. Paid externships are often available during the senior year of the nursing program. Requirements to enter a paid externship include:
- Be in the senior year of nursing
- Have 2.75 cumulative GPA or higher
- Receive Nurse Aide II certification
The North Carolina Foundation for Nursing was founded in 1988 to help new students find the scholarships needed to begin a nursing program. Additionally, students can take advantage of the Forgivable Education Loans for Service (FELS), as early as Freshman year, which provides up to $20,000 of assistance to North Carolina students who are committed to staying and working in the state.
Licensing and Exam Information for BSN Programs in North Carolina
Upon completing a BSN program in North Carolina, the next step to becoming a licensed RN is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). The North Carolina Board of Nursing requires RN licensing candidates to pass the exam before being permitted to practice nursing within the state. The following requirements will need to be met before sitting for the exam:
- Online exam application
- Submittal of NCBON ID document
- Electronic School Verification or Official Transcript Copies
- Registration & payment of fees to third-party exam provider Pearson VUE
- Digital fingerprints via LiveScan
A criminal background check is required before licensure is issued.
Students wishing to take the exam should complete the application and registration for the NCLEX-RN and then register with Pearson VUE to schedule the exam. An NCLEX Examination Webinar Series is available to study and prepare for the exam.
Official results of exams will be sent from the North Carolina Board of Nursing approximately six weeks after the testing date.
Opportunities for North Carolina’s BSNs After Graduation
New Graduate Nursing Programs are offered at many of the hospitals in North Carolina. These are paid programs that prepare graduates for the real-time demands of a nursing career. General and clinical orientations, coaching and role-shadowing are just some of the components of a New Graduate program.
While RNs still have career options, the new BSN standards make a BSN program for beginning students the more suitable choice in the long-term. Students considering the RN field will be best served by choosing a BSN program as the route to licensure.
Some of the career choices extended to BSN-educated RNs in North Carolina as of February 2015 include the following:
- Infection Control Nurse, – Duke Hospital, Durham
- Nurse Educator – Mission Hospitals, Asheville
- Clinical Supervisor – Gaston Family Health Services,Gastonia
- Clinical Documentation Analyst – Grace Federal Solutions, Raleigh