Students considering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program as a pathway to RN licensure in Tennessee prepare themselves for advanced nursing roles in pediatrics, gynecology, surgery, oncology and psychiatry, among many other areas.
Tennessee is expected to need an additional 35,000 registered nurses by 2020 to meet the growing demand for nursing care in the state. BSN-educated RNs are seen as being key to meeting the demand for general nursing care, while also addressing the critical shortage of skilled nurses in specialized areas such as geriatrics, oncology and end-of-life care. As aging baby boomers require more advanced care, the additional preparation BSN nurses receive better equips them to handle these needs than their ADN qualified peers.
While the Tennessee State Board of Nursing does confer RN licenses to both BSN and ADN graduates, BSN-educated nurses are increasingly being shown preference in the hiring process at medical facilities across the state.
Students considering a BSN as a pathway to Registered Nursing practice can also take advantage of the Health Resources Services Administration Scholarship through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The award provides tuition assistance to students pursuing BSN programs to meet Tennessee’s demand for highly-qualified nurses.
Tennessee’s Pre-Licensure BSN Degree Programs
Students in Tennessee can choose flexible online and blended BSN pre-licensure programs, in addition to campus-based programs in the following cities:
- Jefferson City
- Mt. Juliet
- Johnson City
- Milligan College
Tennessee’s nursing schools typically require that students meet requirements such as these before enrolling:
- Fill out a general admission application and pay a fee.
- Send in a letter of recommendation.
- Submit SAT or ACT scores.
- Submit transcripts from high school and universities attended, if any.
- Maintain a minimum GPA in prior college coursework, if any.
- Pass the TEAS – V. This is a third-party nationwide exam that tests students’ readiness for nursing coursework.
BSN Program Course Outline
After satisfying such prerequisites, students take lower-division general classes and upper division nursing coursework. At some institutions students are admitted to the nursing program upon enrollment, while others require students complete general courses and submit a separate nursing major application afterward. In some cases students may use general education courses from a previous institution or degree program to cover these lower-level requirements.
Programs typically require 120 or more credits, in classes such as:
- Anatomy & Physiology
- English Composition
- Introduction to Sociology
- General Psychology
Professional Nursing Courses:
- Pharmacology in Nursing
- Intro to Medical/Surgical Nursing
- Clinical Skills
- Health Assessment Lab
- Foundations of Patient-Centered Care
- Mental Health Nursing
- Nursing of the Childbearing Family
- Pediatric Nursing
Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs also require students complete clinical experience hours to complement their in-class learning. Some institutions offer flexible online simulations to cover a portion of this requirement, however more commonly students will complete a rotation at a local clinic or hospital. Clinical placement options might include:
- Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center
- Covenant Health
- East Tennessee Children’s Hospital
Taking the NCLEX-RN and Applying for RN Licensure in Tennessee
Before practicing, BSN graduates who want to work as Registered Nurses will receive an RN application from the Tennessee State Board of Nursing. Students must return the application with a fee and pass the NCLEX-RN exam prior to licensure.
These are steps applicants must take to register for and complete the exam:
- Schools in Tennessee communicate student information to the Tennessee State Board of Nursing, so students should expect an application from the Board sent to their address prior to graduation.
- Fill out and submit the application and send in electronic fingerprints.
- Register with the testing company for the NCLEX-RN exam and pay the $200 fee.
- After receiving an authorization to test, schedule an examination.
- Take the NCLEX-RN exam.
Students who do not pass the exam may need to take additional steps at the discretion of the Board prior to retaking it.
Residency and Career Opportunities After Graduation
Medical facilities in Tennessee are beginning offer nurse residency programs to ensure a smooth transition to practice for new RNs, many of which are exclusively reserved for graduates of Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs. Among such programs are those at:
Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville
Vanderbilt offers specialized care tracks for new graduates in either adult or pediatric patient care settings. Among further specialization options are Adult Critical Care, Adult Acute Progressive, Burn Program, Emergency Nursing, Pediatrics, Psychiatric Health and Women’s Health.
Baptist Memorial Health Care in Memphis
Baptist offers a structured one-year program that provides opportunities to increase knowledge, technical skills and professionalism. Residents receive an individualized education plan and are provided a mentor, learning opportunities and clinical field trips throughout the year.
On top of such residency opportunities, BSN prepared graduates are also eligible for a wider variety of nursing positions than their ADN-qualified counterparts. Among positions that preference BSN nurses are:
- Research Nurse Specialist at Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville
- Clinical Excellence Manager at MedLine in Nashville
- Research Nurse Educator at Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville