Bachelors of Science in Nursing in Virginia

Students considering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program as a pathway to RN licensure in Virginia prepare themselves for a wider variety of management and leadership roles in the medical field than their ADN-qualified peers.

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A recent report released by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) shows a clear association between an increased number of BSN-educated RNs on staff and better patient outcomes, including lower mortality rates, lower rates of infection, and fewer incidents of readmission. These outcomes coupled with recommendations from the Virginia Action Coalition that 80% of the nursing workforce hold BSN degrees or higher by 2020 means that medical facilities increasingly view the BSN as the preferred level of preparation for prospective employees.

While the Virginia State Board of Nursing does award RN licenses to graduates of both BSN and ADN programs, the demand and employability associated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree makes it a wise pathway to practice.

Students pursuing baccalaureate-level nursing education in Virginia can also take advantage of financial assistance through the Virginia Department of Health’s Mary Marshall Program and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services NURSE Corps Scholarship program. Both provide financial assistance to students pursuing nursing education in medically underserved areas.

Pre-Licensure BSN Degree Programs in Virginia

Students in Virginia may opt for flexible evening or online course options, or choose to attend a campus-based program in one of the following cities:

  • Richmond
  • Harrisonburg
  • Fairfax
  • Hampton
  • Roanoke
  • Lynchburg
  • Arlington
  • Norfolk
  • Radford
  • Chesapeake
  • Winchester
  • Falls Church
  • Charlottesville
  • Wise

When applying to nursing school, prospective students typically encounter the following entry requirements as determined by the academic institution:

  • Fill out the school’s admission application and pay the fee
  • Submit standardized test scores or transcripts from universities attended
  • Submit transcripts from high school if no prior college experience
  • Write an admissions essay
  • Submit letters of recommendation

BSN Pre-Licensure Program Course Content and Clinical Training

After satisfying basic entrance requirements and enrolling, students take general education classes during the first two years, followed by professional nursing coursework in the second half of the program. At some schools students are admitted to the nursing program initially with their general application, while others require students to complete general education pre-nursing classes during the first two years of the program before submitting a separate nursing-program application so as to move on to professional nursing courses.

In either format, programs require at least120 credits to graduate in classes such as:

General Education:

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Chemistry for Health Professionals
  • Microbiology
  • A required writing course
  • Growth and Development Across the Lifespan
  • A math elective, such as Statistics

Professional Nursing Courses:

  • Pathophysiology and Clinical Management
  • Pharmacology and Clinical Management
  • Research, Ethics, Advocacy & Leadership
  • Adult and Gerontological Care
  • Pediatric Care
  • Maternal/Child Care
  • Public & Population Health Nursing
  • Critical & Transitional Care

In some cases programs offer flexible online simulations for working students to augment clinical training, however most often students will complete clinicals through a rotation at a local hospital or clinic. Among such placement options in Virginia are:

  • University of Virginia Medical Center
  • Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville
  • Augusta Health in Fishersville
  • Western State Hospital in Staunton

Becoming Licensed in Virginia as a BSN-Educated RN

BSN graduates who want to practice as RNs in Virginia must first apply for a Registered Nursing license through the Virginia State Board of Nursing and pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

These are steps applicants must take to complete the exam and obtain licensure:

  1. Apply for an RN license with the Virginia State Board of Nursing and pay the $190 fee.
  2. Register with the testing company for the NCLEX-RN exam and pay the $200 fee.
  3. After receiving an authorization to test, schedule an examination.
  4. Take the NCLEX-RN exam.

Students who do not pass the exam will need to fill out a short retake application form and pay a $50 fee.

Residency and Career Opportunities After Graduation

Hospitals in Virginia also offer nurse residency programs for BSN graduates to enhance clinical competency and ensure a smooth transition into practice for new RNs. Such programs can be found at:

Virginia Commonwealth Medical Center in Richmond

This hospital offers one-year nurse residencies exclusively to baccalaureate nursing graduates. Key features of the program include centralized orientation courses, unit-by-unit preceptorships, seminars that address important new nurse topics and opportunities for peer networking and support.

University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville

UV Health System offers a one year nurse residency program that provides three to five months protected orientation time for nurses in acute and critical care settings. After orientation, nurses attend monthly classes and discuss transition-to-practice issues with peers.

In addition to residency opportunities, baccalaureate prepared RNs are also eligible for a wider variety of nursing positions and career advancement opportunities than ADN-qualified RNs. An example of the positions exclusively available to BSN graduates as of early 2015 include:

  • Director of Emergency Services at Henrico Doctors Hospital in Richmond
  • Registered ICU Nurse at Centra Healthcare Solutions in Reston
  • Patient Care Navigator at Inova Alexandria Hospital in Alexandria

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