By the year 2020 nursing standards throughout the country, including South Carolina will have changed dramatically. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has put recommendations in place suggesting that 80% of RNs should have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or higher by 2020.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), BSN-educated nurses are valued for their critical thinking, as well as their case management and leadership skills. Healthcare providers and magnet hospitals all understand the unequivocal value that a baccalaureate-prepared nurse can bring to their organization. According to a study done by the AACN, over 78% of healthcare employers show a strong preference to BSN graduates when hiring staff RNs.
The South Carolina Action Coalition has put a taskforce together to begin making progress to the IOM’s stated goals. While IOM suggests that 80% of nurses have a BSN, the Action Coalition is setting its goal at 50%, as this more attainable for the time being. The South Carolina State Board of Nursing is working with the South Carolina Legislature to implement revisions to the Nurse Practice Act and to review current licensing and educational standards.
Some hospitals in South Carolina are already implementing new hiring standards to increase their BSN ratio. Greenville Health System will begin hiring only BSN graduates for RN positions effective 2015, and other hospitals like Roper St. Francis Hospital in Charleston requires that at least 75% of new hires have a BSN degree.
These new hiring trends show that a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is the preferred path to RN licensure in South Carolina.
Online and On-Campus Pre-Licensure BSN Programs in South Carolina
Pre-licensure BSN programs are available both online and on-campus. The online option allows students to be more flexible with class scheduling while the on-campus program gives the student the real college experience.
There are BSN programs available throughout South Carolina with campuses in the following cities:
BSN programs are highly competitive and GPA is a big factor in being accepted into a program. Lower division courses must be completed before applying for the nursing component, which includes upper division coursework and clinical training. Lower division courses are typically in the following areas of study:
- Values, Ethics, Social Responsibility
Upper division courses taken in the last two years after general undergraduate requirements are met may include the following:
- Clinical Reasoning
- Acute Care Nursing of Adults
- Foundations of Nursing Practice
- Maternal/Newborn Nursing
- Family and Community Health Nursing
- Chemical Therapeutics
- Nursing Leadership and Management
- Nursing Care of the Older Adult
- Nursing of Children and Families
Clinical experience is completed at hospitals or clinics that are approved by the South Carolina Board of Nursing. Simulation labs are also available at some campus locations. Clinical experience is an important part of the curriculum and introduces the student to the health care environment, helping them to build clinical reasoning skills.
Hospitals in the state that offer clinicals include, but are not limited to the following:
- University of South Carolina Children and Family Healthcare – Columbia
- Lexington Medical Center – Columbia
- Greenville Hospital System – Greenville
Licensing and Exam Information for South Carolina BSN Programs
Upon completion of a BSN, RN candidates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) exam to receive an RN license from the South Carolina Board of Nursing. Candidates will schedule the exam through Pearson VUE, a third party exam provider. Exams are available through Computerized Adaptive Test (CAT) six days a week. Testing centers are located in Greenville, Columbia and North Charleston.
Steps to licensure include the following:
- Submit Application for Licensure by Examination with required fee
- Register to take the NCLEX-RN exam
- Submit the Certificate of Endorsement page from the Application for Licensure by Examination packet to the degree-granting school’s director to be completed and mailed directly to the Board of Nursing
South Carolina is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). This means that RNs licensed in a Compact state like South Carolina, are permitted to practice across state lines in another Compact state with a simple reciprocal license.
Residency and Career Opportunities for BSNs after Graduation
Residency programs can be an important tool in transferring to from the classroom to the clinical environment. These programs are designed to continue where the classroom education left off giving the resident hands-on learning experience on-the-job. Some residency programs split between a classroom and facility setting to fill in gaps possibly missed during the BSN program.
Examples of hospitals in South Carolina that offer nursing residency programs include:
- Palmetto Health – Columbia
- MUSC Children’s Hospital – Charleston
- Greenville Health System – Greenville
Studies have revealed a near 92% placement rate in the South within 4 – 6 months of graduating from a BSN Program. There is also greater career versatility with a BSN. Examples of careers currently available in South Carolina with BSN preference include the following (February 2015):
- Clinical Services Director – Fundamental, Columbia
- Nursing Administrative Supervisor – Spartanburg Medical Center, Spartanburg
- Lead Case Manager RN – Bon Secours Health System, Greenville