In an ever changing and more increasingly complex medical environment, the need for highly educated RNs is becoming increasingly important. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is now the gold standard as the pathway to an RN license in North Dakota.
The North Dakota Area Education Center is just one of the bodies working towards achieving Institute of Medicine (IOM) standards put forth in 2012 calling for 80% of the nursing workforce to hold a BSN degree or higher by 2020. The North Dakota Action Coalition has begun working with nursing education programs across the state to further develop and increase the number of pre-licensure BSN programs.
According to the North Dakota Board of Nursing there are currently more than 13,000 RNs in the state, but just over 1,000 have a BSN degree or higher. With the IOM deadline only a few years away, it is more important than ever that nursing students consider the BSN path to licensure, incentivized by the fact that it results in better job prospects and higher starting salaries.
To help ensure that nursing students have the financial means needed to pursue a BSN, the state of North Dakota offers several scholarship and loan options. The North Dakota Board of Education Loan Program is a loan that students in the state can choose to repay through employment. In this program, one dollar is applied toward loan repayment for every hour of employment. Full-time contract faculty can receive a maximum of 2,080 hours per year. In addition, universities across the state offer scholarships that can be utilized to help pay for pre-licensure BSN degree programs.
North Dakota’s Online and On-Campus BSN Programs
BSN students today have the choice of online programs or traditional classroom settings. Students can choose the option that suits them best based on learning style or the need for flexible scheduling.
The state of North Dakota offers several BSN program options within the state as well as online. Some of the cities where on-campus programs are available include:
- Devil’s Lake
- Grand Forks
The enrollment process for a pre-licensure BSN degree differs from program to program but generally includes the following steps:
- Complete an application to the program
- Complete a personal statement
- Have references and recommendations
Program Structure and Content Outline
Math and science courses are a key requirement for admission into the nursing component of BSN programs. Courses that are typically required as part of general undergraduate requirements include the following:
- Fundamental of Public Speaking
- College Composition II
- Introduction to Psychology
- Introduction to Sociology OR Anth- Introduction to Anthropology
- Chem – Chemistry Concepts and Applications and Lab
- Elements of Biochemistry
- Introductory Microbiology and Lab
- Human Anatomy and Physiology I and Lab
- Human Anatomy and Physiology II and Lab
BSN programs typically require a 2.75 GPA in all required courses for the 122 credit curriculum.
Nursing specific courses are then offered in the second half of the program, and may include the following classes:
- Nursing Fundamentals
- Health Assessment
- Advanced Nursing Skills
- Surgical Nursing
- NCLEX Review
Clinical experience is required for completion of the BSN programs. Public Health Facilities within the state of North Dakota that offer the opportunity for students to complete their clinical requirements include:
- North Dakota State Hospital – Jamestown
- Sanford Medical Center – Fargo
Licensing and Exam Information for BSN Graduates in North Dakota
Upon graduating from an accredited nursing program, the North Dakota Board of Nursing requires RN licensure candidates to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), which is the standard licensing test used nationwide.
Steps to taking the NCLEX-RN:
- Receive Authorization to Test (ATT) from the North Dakota Board of Nursing
- Make appointment for NCLEX RN online with Pearson VUE
- Pay exam fee
- Bring required ID on day of testing
Exam results will typically be sent within six weeks of the exam date. Contact the North Dakota Board of Nursing if results are not received after six weeks.
Opportunities for BSNs After Graduation
A nursing residency is best option to securing employment upon graduation from a BSN program. Hospitals in North Dakota offer residency programs to help students transition from the classroom to the medical setting and are six to nine months in duration. Hospitals in the state that offer residency programs include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Sanford Health – Fargo
- Trinity Health – Minot
- Alexius Medical Center – Bismarck
According to a report published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics jobs for advanced practice nurses with BSN’s is expected to grow faster than RN jobs. This trend will continue as the new IOM standards draw near. Hospitals and medical facilities are quicker to hire BSN candidates over RN candidates. Also, BSN candidates have more career options available to them. Some of the current openings in the state that require a BSN include (February 2015):
- Army Reserve Psychiatric Nurse – U.S. Army Healthcare Team, Fargo
- NCLEX RN Instructor – Kaplan Test Prep, Bismarck
- Travel ER RN/Emergency Registered Nurse – Medical Staffing Network, Bismarck