The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has recommended that 80% of nurses nationwide hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) by the year 2020 based on research that clearly points to the many benefits of having BSN-educated RNs on staff. This standard comes at a time when other countries like Canada, Sweden and the Philippines already require nurses to have a bachelor’s degree to practice. Studies published in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed a steep decrease in mortality rates at hospitals where 70% or more of the staff had a higher educational level. In fact, the mortality rate was nearly double at hospitals that had fewer than 10% of RNs on staff educated at the bachelor’s level.
The Rhode Island Action Coalition was founded to address barriers to attaining the 80% goal and to come up with solutions. The Coalition has been tasked with reviewing nursing programs across the state and assess program curriculum. A standardized bridge course is being developed to expedite a student’s transition from a two-year program to a four-year program for those who choose to begin their BSN prerequisites at the community college level.
This level of commitment shows the practicality of obtaining a BSN degree over an ADN/RN. While the two year program at a community college can be an excellent and cheaper alternative to a four-year university, students need to understand the importance of continuing the BSN path to receive the RN license. The IOM standards are already being implemented in hospitals and health care agencies across the state making the BSN the wisest choice in obtaining a job after graduation.
The State of Rhode Island Department of Health is the issuing board for RN licenses and also approves the state’s nursing programs. Students considering a BSN program need to be sure the program they choose is one approved by the state.
Online and On-Campus BSN Programs in Rhode Island
BSN programs are designed to be completed over a four year time frame. Online and on-campus programs are available in Rhode Island, giving students a choice in how they obtain the degree. Proximity to a campus can be a deciding factor in choosing between on-campus and online programs.
Pre-licensure BSN programs are available in the following cities:
BSN Programs Prerequisites in Rhode Island
Most schools of nursing require students to complete general undergraduate requirements before granting them admission to the nursing component of the four-year degree program, which is the point at which students start taking upper-division nursing courses.
Admission into BSN programs is highly competitive and typically consists of meeting the following requirements:
- Submit Enrollment Form to School of Nursing of choice
- Complete College Writing and Mathematics requirements
- Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
- Completion of Biology, Chemistry and Psychology requirements with minimum grade of C and overall GPA of 2.67 or higher
Upper Division Courses and Clinical Experience
In addition to about 40 hours of general education core coursework, students must complete an average of 80 additional credits in upper division level courses. Courses that students may expect to take as part of the BSN in Rhode Island may include:
- Professional Nursing
- Health Assessment
- Adult Health Nursing
- Maternal Newborn Nursing
- Mental Health Nursing
- Foundations of Therapeutic Interventions
- Contemporary Professional Nursing
- Human Anatomy
- Human Development
- Human Physiology
Clinical experience plays a vital role in the BSN program. Students are given hands-on training in various clinical settings. This experience gives the student confidence in transferring from the student to the professional setting after graduation. Clinical studies are offered at various locations including the following:
- Rhode Island Hospital – Providence
- Miriam Hospital – Providence
- Hasbro Children’s Hospital – Providence
RN Licensing and Exam Process in Rhode Island
The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) is a national licensing examination that must be passed before receiving an RN license from the state of Rhode Island. The exam can be scheduled online at Pearson VUE after completion of a state approved BSN program.
To apply for the RN license, candidates must do the following:
- Pay application fee.
- Submit recent passport-type photo.
- Submit official, sealed transcript.
- Graduate from approved nursing program.
- Complete criminal background check and fingerprinting.
Rhode Island is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which recognizes nursing licenses issued by participating states. This means that upon receipt of a Rhode Island RN license, nurses may apply for a reciprocal license to practice in other compact states.
Residency and Employment Opportunities after Graduation
Residency programs offer a solid foundation when beginning a nursing career after graduating from a BSN program. The Rhode Island Action Coalition in conjunction with a number of private and public sector partners recently launched a statewide clinical nurse residency and mentoring program. Graduates of BSN programs will be eligible to enroll in the residency program and receive valuable mentoring and training within a clinical setting.
Residencies will be available in settings that range from hospitals to community clinics to nursing homes. Every nurse accepted into the program will receive training at three different sites during a training period that will last up to nine months.
BSN graduates typically receive hiring preference over ADN-educated RNs. They also may be hired at a higher pay grade and have more career advancement options available to them. Current BSN required nursing careers available in Rhode Island include the following (February 2015):
- Telemetry Nurse – NursesRX, Providence
- Registered Nurse/Stress Lab – Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, Providence
- RN Case Manager – Memorial Hospital, Pawtucket